It doesn’t matter if you have city water or well water, turning on the tap only to be greeted by a strong, foul-smelling odor can be alarming for all homeowners. Your initial reaction may be to think your water supply has been contaminated, but there are a multitude of reasons why your household water may suddenly possess a pungent odor.
Although bacterial activity is often the cause of stinky water, this is not the only reason water may smell and taste off. Chemical reactions, elevated traces of minerals, and decaying organic material can all cause changes in your water. Below we take a look at some of the most common water smells, what causes them, and how to rid your water of unwanted odors for good.
Odor: Rotten Eggs
Cause: If there’s a rotten egg smell coming from your faucet, the most common culprit is sulfur bacteria that have found its way into your water supply. The foul smell usually comes from a lack of oxygen in a well, which produces hydrogen sulfide gas. It can also occur as a result of sulfur-containing chemical reactions in the groundwater.
If you only experience the smell when running hot water from the faucet or in the shower, it may be a chemical reaction occurring inside your water heater, not your water supply.
Odor: Dirty or Earthy
Cause: If you notice a burst of musty, earthy smelling water when using your hot tap, you may be dealing with iron bacteria in your water supply. Though this type of bacteria is not harmful, it can be a nuisance as it often imparts a bad taste. Iron bacteria are found in well water with high levels of iron. In addition to a pungent odor, you may also notice slime in your toilet’s tank or other plumbing fixtures in your home.
Iron bacteria forms when iron and oxygen mix. The bacteria feed on the iron and create a slime to protect itself. When the bacteria die, it gives off an earthy odor.
Because of its warm temperature, your home’s water heater is often the perfect breeding ground for iron bacteria. Bacteria in a water heater may produce a longer-lasting smell when you turn on your faucet.
Odor: Fishy Drinking Water
Cause: The most likely cause of a fishy smell in your drinking water comes from naturally occurring organic material that has made its way into your water source. This smell is often an indicator that you may be dealing with elevated levels of chloramines, barium, or cadmium.
Chloramines are a compound of chlorine and ammonia and are used to disinfect public water. While necessary to remove harmful contaminants, it can create a strong odor in your water. Barium and cadmium are naturally occurring metals found in natural deposits that can make their way into your water as a result of fertilizer contamination or deteriorating pipes and plumbing. Though the smell is off-putting, it rarely signifies the presence of harmful bacteria or contaminants.
Odor: Bleach, Swimming Pool Smell
Cause: Complaints of water with a bleach smell most commonly come from homeowners with city water, because chlorine is manually added to public water to disinfect it. Homes located close to a distribution plant may have higher levels of chlorine in the water. Chlorine is necessary for municipal water treatment, however, once the chlorine reaches your home’s water supply, it’s essentially doing nothing more than drying out your skin and giving your water a funky smell and taste.
Give Your Home Quality Drinking Water with Treatment from Atlantic Blue
It’s important to remember that although odorous water can be a nuisance, it’s typically not a health concern. To be certain of your water’s odor source, contact us for a free water analysis.
If you’re ready to eliminate that pesky smell from your water source once and for all, contact our specialists for more information on the best water treatment options for your needs and budget.
Save yourself time and money with the help of a water filtration system. Learn more about our various products that help to treat your water and remove minerals for good.