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Why Does My Tap Water Smell?

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When the tap water smells then often there is a hidden issue with the tap or plumbing. The water supply may be contaminated but most times it is because of a specific issue affecting one or many taps. The smell of the tap water can also help in determining what the issue is that is causing the problem. Here at Optimised Plumbing Services, our Emergency Plumber team will help resolve tap water smell issues at any time of the day. 

To know why the tap water smells start with seeing how many taps are affected. If only one or a few smells then the fixture or pipe could be the issue. When all the faucets smell then run the water for a few minutes. If the smell goes away then the plumbing system may have caused the concern. If the smell did not go away then either the magnesium rod is damaged or there is a plumbing or water source issue.

What are Common Problems that Cause The Tap Water to Smell?

Below is a guide on what causes the tap water to smell at times and how to fix it:

Bleach or Chemical Smell

When the tap water smells like chemicals then often it means that there is a high level of chlorine. The high level of chlorine is not harmful but the taste and smell are often not pleasant. 

Cause What does this mean? How to fix?
Public water supplies Water supply systems will add small amounts of chlorine to disinfect drinking water and the amount added is not harmful to people. 0.2 to 2 parts per million (ppm) of chlorine is often within the water but at times it can be as high as 5ppm leading to 
  • Measure the ppm of the water
  • If it is over 2.0ppm then contact the local water supply company
  • If the ppm is below 2 then place some water in the fridge so after a couple of hours the taste and odor goes away
Shock chlorination After larger storms the public water supply companies might add more chlorine to prevent bacteria growing within the system, therefore, the taste of the water might be different.
  • Turn on all the taps to allow the smell to leave the water system quicker
Chlorine interacting with organic materials When chlorine interacts with organic material in the water system it will do its job to remove the harmful bacteria within the water. The more organic material in the water though will lead to a stronger water odor at times. 
  • Allow water to run from the tap for a few minutes to let the smell go away
  • If the smell is still present contact the local public water supply authority 

Rotten Egg or Sewage Smell

If the tap water smells like rotten eggs or sewage then sulphur bacteria has entered the water supply.

Cause What does this mean? How to fix it?
Bacteria growing in drains When organic matter accumulates within the pipes and drains then this can easily create a smell. These can become stuck, such as from a Blocked Drain, and when they accumulate bacteria can form which then creates a smelly gas called sulphur.
  • Fill a glass with water from the smelly tap and place it away from the place
  • Swirl the water and if it does not smell then the drain is causing the smell and not the water
  • Contact a plumber to help resolve the issue, such as if it is a blockage
Bacteria growing in water heater Bacteria might grow inside the hot water heater often when the water is not used for some time or if the thermostat is not correctly set. This bacteria is most times not harmful but it can cause the tap water smell and taste to be affected. 
  • If the hot water only smells then the magnesium rod in the water tank will need replacing with an aluminum rod

Earthy or Fishy Smell

Earthy or fishy smells are not harmful but when the tap water smells and taste like this it is most times not wanted.

Cause What does this mean? How to fix?
Decaying organic matter in drains When organic matter within drains deposits then it can easily create this odour. 
  • Grab a glass of water from where the tap where it smells and move away from the tap
  • If the water does not smell then contact a plumber to find the issue in the drain and resolve it

Gasoline or Fuel-Like Smell

It is rare for gas or fuel-like smells to form from the tap but when it occurs it can be serious. 

Cause How to fix?

1. A leaking fuel tank or underground fuel storage tank 

2. Discharge from nearby landfills or factories contaminating the water supply

3. Run-off from agriculture close by which is contaminating the water supply

  • Do not drink the water and report the problem to local water supply authorities

Reliable Plumbers Resolving Any Plumbing Issue

Optimised Plumbing Services is here with trusted emergency plumbers to help when the tap water smells and has problems. Each fully qualified plumber will know how to detect what the source of the smell is then resolve that issue. We will also respond to any other plumbing emergency, such as with gas fittings or burst pipes, for all of Sydney, including Eastern Suburbs and North Shore. When the tap water smells or when needing general plumbing services – always trust Optimised Plumbing Services!

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