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What To Do If My Tap Water Smells Bad?

Smelly tap water can come as a startling surprise to homeowners and leave an impression that their water is unsafe to drink or use. There can be a variety of reasons for this. Different odours can originate from a number of sources. 

In most cases, smelly water is not dangerous, however being acquainted with the reasons why they occur and knowing when to seek advice from a plumber can provide you with some much needed relief.

Locating the Source 

Tap water could end up smelling bad for a number of reasons. To narrow down potential causes, here are a few steps you can take to help determine the culprit of the odour:

Odour in Single or Some Faucets in Household

  • If the odour occurs in a single or in some faucets in the household, then it is likely the issue is somewhere in your plumbing fixtures or piping supplying the affected faucets. 
  • Run water for a few minutes and take a water sample in a glass cup.
    • If the odour is gone, try flushing the remaining faucets. 
    • Move the glass to another location in your home; if the smell is no longer there, then the odour source is likely from the drain of the faucet and will need to be disinfected.
  • To disinfect and sanitize your drain, pour about 1:1 ratio of bleach and water.
    • DO NOT mix the bleach with any other cleaning products or substances. Mixing bleach and cleaning fluids can create toxic gases, which can contaminate the air in your household.
  • Let the diluted bleach sit in the pipe for a few minutes. Flush the drain thoroughly with water after.

Odour in All Faucets in Household

If the odour is occurring in all faucets in your household, the source of the problem can vary, depending on the type of odour you smell:

Sewage Smell

Likely a result of a dry sewer drain. This can cause a sewage-like smell in your household. 

Water is normally present in the P-trap of a basement floor drain to prevent sewer gases from backing up into your home by creating a barrier. Use of a nearby sink causes running water to flush out the old water in the U-curve of a P-trap where the water is held, replacing it with new. 

P-Trap can empty if the water inside has evaporated due to disuse or if there is a leak in the line. Inspect your basement floor drains. You can shine a flashlight into the drain. If dry, pour some tap water down to refresh water in the trap. 

Earthy Musty Smell 

An earthy, musty smell is often a common occurrence during the late summer or early fall season. This is due to the presence of algae in the water. Despite the smell, the water remains perfectly safe for consumption. 

Some people, however, can be sensitive to this particular odour. Consider installing a water filtration system to remove the smell. 

Swimming Pool Smell

Tap water smelling like a swimming pool is likely caused by high levels of chlorine. Chlorine is used during the water treatment process to purify water, allowing it to be fit for consumption. The amount of chlorine used during this process is regulated by the Province of Ontario’s Safe Drinking Water Act. 

Water is safe to drink containing standard levels of chlorine, however some people may be more sensitive to it than others. The smell usually disappears after allowing the water to run for a few minutes.

Still Smelling Something Funny? 

Can’t find the root of the smell? Or perhaps the odour still persists after trying out the tips above. If you need help diagnosing or need advice, True Service Plumbing can help! 

Our licensed plumbers will assess your home’s plumbing system and determine the cause of your issue, and perform the services necessary to get your water smelling great again.

Contact True Service Plumbing today to schedule a free estimate and consultation.

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