Bathroom sink faucet

Why Does My Water Smell Bad?

If you turn on a faucet and the water has an unpleasant odor, it can be an alarming experience. After all, we rely on a regular supply of clean drinking water to stay healthy and bad water is unpalatable. But, the source of this odor may not be the incoming water supply at all and your plumbing pipes may be the problem. Another consideration is the type of smell. Different odors can give us some clues about the source of the problem. In this article, we will take a closer look at this issue to help you make an informed decision.

A Strong Chemical Odor

This could be categorized as a medicinal, antiseptic or bleach-like smell. If the water has a “swimming pool” odor, the usual cause is chlorine that is added by the water treatment plant. In many cases, the chlorine odor disappears after the water is exposed to the air for a couple of minutes. But, if you have a build-up of organic material on the inner walls of your plumbing pipes, an interaction with chlorine treated water can occur. So, if the chemical smell persists after the water is exposed to air, it’s a good idea to call your local plumber.

A Moldy, Musty or Fishy Smell

Our senses are well attuned to environmental changes that can affect our health. This is a built-in self defense mechanism and it makes good sense to pay attention to our senses. If you can detect any sign of the smells listed above in your drinking water, you should not use it for drinking or cooking tasks. These odors are usually a sign that some kind of bacterial contamination has occurred and the source may be in your pipes. A musty smells is typically caused by decaying organic matter that could be lurking in your drains. To test this theory, pour a glass of water, move it to a different room and smell the water after a few minutes. If the water smells clean, the source is the drains and they need to be cleaned and disinfected. If the water still smells bad, there could be bacteria in your pressure tank, reservoir or private well. In this case, you need to contact your local licensed and certified plumber and get them to remove the bacteria for you.

A Gasoline Odor

This is a serious problem. This odor is typically caused by contaminations from a number of potential sources, including: agricultural run-off, landfill discharge, industrial pollution, leaking underground fuel tanks and others. If your water smells like gasoline, it should not be used for drinking or cooking and you need to contact the county health department immediately.

A Rotten Egg Smell

This could be caused by bacteria in the water or a drain that needs disinfection. By testing the water in different ways, you can discover the source of the problem. If the cold water smells fine, the likely source is bacteria in your hot water heater. The thermostat may be set too low or the hot water heater may have been unused for some time. If the cold and hot water both smell bad, fill a glass, take it to another room and smell it after a few minutes. If the water smells OK, the problem lies in the drain, and disinfection is required. If you have a private well and neither of the approaches above works, the source may be bacterial growth in your well. If you have bacteria in your water, it should be checked by a professional plumber as chlorination may be required to clean the well.

If you’re worried about the quality of your water, contact your local licensed and certified plumber today.