The Inspector

By NPI, Inc.



What’s that Smell? What Different Odors in Your Water Mean

 August 31, 2020 |  Home Maintenance, Cleaning Tips |  plumbing, kitchen, bathroom

Have you noticed a strange smell emanating from your faucet lately? When it comes to strange or unpleasant water scents, the devil is in the details. Here’s a list of some of the most common water odors and what they say about the condition of your home’s plumbing or water supply.

Your Water Smells Like Fish
First of all, no worries—it’s not actual fish! Depending on where you live, you could be getting your water supply from the bodies of water around you. During the summer months these ponds or lakes can produce algae blooms, and particles from them may make their way into your water. Naturally occurring metals in the ground and other decaying materials can also cause a fish-like scent. Chloramine used to treat water can produce a smell as well.

Solution: One way to deal with fishy water is to try and flush out your water heater. If that doesn’t work, your next course of action will depend on if you have a private or public well. If you have a private well, try to shock chlorinate it to kill any algae or install an automatic chlorinator. If you use a public water system, it’s best to contact the supplier and notify them of the issue.

Your Water Smells Like Sewage
Your sink faucet smelling like sewage might not have anything to do with your water supply at all. A good way to determine the source is to fill a glass of water and let it sit for a minute or two. If after you come back and the water still smells, then it is time to check your pipes. If not, the problem might be from the drain.

Solution: After you discover if the smell stems from your water or the drain, you can easily fix it yourself. Simply use a drain cleaner or soap and water to dislodge any stuck food or other garbage. It is also a good idea in the future to not throw large items that could get stuck down your drain. This will prevent odd smells, and also prolong the life of your pipes and garbage disposal.

Your Water Smells Like Rotten Eggs
If your water smells like rotten eggs, sulfur is the culprit. Sulfur is typically caused by a buildup of bacteria. While this bacteria is naturally-occurring and doesn’t pose a threat to your health, it can be deeply unpleasant to deal with.

Solution: This issue can easily be resolved by flushing out your water heater to help clear out any bacteria. You can also look to replace the anode in your heater with an imposed current one. Magnesium and aluminum anodes spur the growth of bacteria, leading to a smell. However, you shouldn’t fully remove the anode as this will cause your tank to rust faster.

Your Water Smells Like Chlorine
If you have noticed that your water has started to smell more like a swimming pool, it’s likely over-chlorinated. Chlorine is widely used in treating your water to kill harmful bacteria, and is safe in very small doses. However, having highly chlorinated water can be dangerous if it is left untreated. Luckily, you do have a couple of options on how to deal with this issue.

Solution: The first option that you have in dealing with chlorine scented water is to install a water filter. These filters can snap on your sink faucet or shower head, or you can have one installed under the sink. If you want to go with a larger option, you can flush your water system. This can also help clear out any deposits in your piping that could be contributing to the smell. Of course, if the problem continues or gets worse, you should notify your water company to have them examine for any issues on their end.


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