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5 Common Causes of Water Odor You Should Know About
Monday, July 15, 2019

In America, we enjoy access to unlimited water. Most of us use city water for everything from washing clothes, running our toilets, taking showers, and hydration.

However, every once in a while an interesting odor will creep up out of the sink that has us raising our eyebrows. Sometimes, the water odor is so bad it makes us think twice about washing our hands, let alone drinking it.

Most people never look too far into it. The run the tap for a minute until the smell disappears and then forget the problem ever existed.

But was there ever really a problem? If so, can water odor be indicative of something worse? More importantly, can water odor indicate there's water in our house harmful to our health?

Keep reading, will give you the answers.

The Smells and Causes of Water Odor

In order to answer the question above, we first need to look at the different types of odors you might smell. From there, we can tell you where they're coming from and if it poses a risk to your health.

1. Sulfur or Rotten Eggs Odor

The smell of rotten eggs is a red flag for one of two things.

First, you may have sulfur-reducing bacteria in your pipes, hot water tank, or water tanks (if you have them). This type of bacteria is found in oxygen-deficient environments and produce hydrogen sulfide as they feed on decaying matter. Hydrogen sulfide is the gas that produces the odor.

Take a look at one of our helpful articles on getting rid of sulfur water.

2. Wet Dog Smell

A wet dog smell coming out of your sink or faucet often indicates a buildup of bacteria if you have a well. In this scenario, you would want to treat the well water with chlorine.

However, if you don't have a well, the water odor is most likely coming from your hot water pipe. More often than not, if you have treated public water, you have nothing to worry about, the smell is likely caused by the high concentration of metals in the pipe.

3. Sewage Odor

A water odor that smells like sewage is most likely coming from your drain, not your water.

Likely, bacteria has built up in the pipe near the drain and you smell it when the water is on because the p-trap is being cleared. As the water clears the p-trap, the gases are allowed to make their way out.

Alternatively, if the hot water heater is run at low temperatures or was turned off for any period of time, it may have allowed a build-up of bacteria. In this scenario, the water odor may actually be coming from the tap.

4. Chlorine Smell

Chlorine is used to treat city water. Not only is it cleared by the EPA, but it's also made mandatory by them.

In order to provide the public with safe water to drink, a level of chlorine must be added to the water supply. While chlorine can be smelled at one milligram per liter, the EPA has deemed anything under 4 milligrams per liter safe.

If you smell water odor and it resembles chlorine or bleach, you don't need to worry. However, to be safe, you can get chlorine monitors if you feel like the odor is excessive.

5. Musty Odor

A musty or earthy water odor can be indicative of a high-iron content in your water supply. While this isn't harmful to your health, you probably won't enjoy how it tastes.

Excess iron can also lead to slimy buildups in the toilet and other places around the house. Although, it can easily be treated with an iron filter or chlorine treatments.

Don't Risk It

While most water odors don't necessarily indicate an immediate problem, you should never risk you or your family's health.

There are all kinds of water monitors on the market that help detect harmful or excessive substances in your water. Some chemicals that can make their way into your water are odorless. You can't always depend on water odor to alert you to contamination.

For more questions or other information, feel free to contact us!

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