Most of us take for granted that we have clean, safe water just steps away at the faucet. And if you happen to notice an odd smell, it is easy to ignore it, thinking that you are imagining it or that it is no big deal. However, it is crucial to understand that water should be colorless and odorless when it is safe to consume. If you notice a new smell, it is time to pay attention and try to figure out what you are smelling and if it is potentially hazardous.
Why Does Water Have An Odor?
Water that has an odor is generally considered to be contaminated by something. It is that foreign matter that is creating the scent. And in most cases, it should not be present in the water that you are consuming. The smell will be a significant help in discovering what has contaminated your drinking water and how dangerous it could be if you continue to drink it.
Water That Smells Like Metal
Zinc, iron, and manganese can leach into a water supply from the soil. These are naturally occurring materials and are no reason for concern. In most cases, they are present in all water and do not alter the smell you have become accustomed to from your tap water. However, metal flakes can begin to contaminate your water as your home’s water lines begin to degrade. This process can lead to tiny specs in the water and a metallic taste and odor. Flushing your water heater and water lines can sometimes remove the particulates. If the smell persists, it is best to have the water tested for lead, which can cause serious health issues.
Water That Smells Like Sewage
Water that smells like sewage, decay, old fish, or even mold is most often caused by bacteria in your water lines or water heater. Having your water system professionally disinfected is the best way to eliminate bacteria, mold, and other contaminants causing the foul odor.
Water That Smells Like Sulfur
Hydrogen sulfide gas gives off the distinct smell of rotten eggs or sulfur. Waterborne bacteria feed on the sulfur-rich buildup in your drains and pipes, and they give off hydrogen sulfide as a waste product. This causes your water to smell and taste bad. However, it does not represent a significant health risk. But over time, the bacteria will begin to cause corrosive damage to your pipes. There are filtration systems and treatment products that can eliminate the bacteria and the bad taste and smell.
Water That Smells Like Chlorine
Most public water suppliers use chlorine to eliminate bacterial growth in the water supply. On occasion, a higher concentration of chlorine can build up and cause the water to smell. And while the water is safe to drink, it will be more drying to your skin and hair. The issue should correct itself quickly. But if the odor continues, contact your water supplier or have the water independently tested.
Water That Smells Like Gasoline
This is a very rare issue but also a very serious one. The smell is an indication that the water is contaminated. Usually, the issue is from one of the following three sources:
- A leaking underground fuel storage tank near your water supply
- Discharge from a nearby factory or landfill that is contaminating the water supply
- Agricultural runoff that has reached the water supply
All of these possibilities are very serious and need immediate attention. Drinking water contaminated by fuel can lead to serious health issues, including cancer, liver damage, or kidney problems. As soon as you notice the smell of gasoline from your water, contact the water supplier and your local health department. And do not consume any of the water until you are sure that it is safe from contamination.
When you discover an odd smell in your water, it can be easy to overlook it and try not to worry. But the best choice is to call (214) 388-8838 and schedule an appointment with a Flatirons Plumbing professional. Our team can help you determine the cause of the smell and the appropriate action to ensure your safety.