Odd smelling water is one of the biggest cause of complaints. Even your water is still safe to drink, a foul smell makes drinking water unpalatable. So, here we’ll explain some of the most common water odor problems, so you can determine if you need to call in a professional water treatment technician.

Woody, Earthy or Fishy Smells

These types of odors are generally caused by naturally occurring and harmless organic matter. This is more common when your water is from surface water sources, where it is more common to find organic matter. Another cause of this type of smell is chloramines. Chloramine is a chlorine and ammonia compound used as a disinfectant at municipal water treatment plants. When traces of chloramine remain, it can create a distinct odor, but this can be filtered out using an activated carbon filter.

Fishy odors can also be caused by Cadmium or Barium in the water. These naturally occurring metals are regulated by the EPA, so they should be removed by your water supplier. Unfortunately, if any traces remain in your water, you will need an ion exchange or reverse osmosis treatment system.

Bleachy Smells

A bleachy smell is usually due to the presence of chlorine. Chlorine is used as a disinfectant in municipal and private well water. Unfortunately, even trace amounts of chlorine can create that distinct swimming pool smell. Recent research suggests that chlorine overexposure is linked to adverse health effects and unfortunately, exposure is often through inhalation during bathing. Exposure is far greater when chlorine vapors are inhaled in a steamy shower. This provides greater exposure than drinking several glasses of water containing high levels of chlorine as the lungs introduce the chlorine into the blood system immediately. This issue requires a point of entry filtration system that will not only provide chlorine free drinking water, but also treated water throughout your home.

Rotten Eggs

The smell of rotten eggs or a sulfur odor can be the result of different water quality issues. This type of water can leave black or yellow stains on your bathroom fixtures, tarnish silverware, distort the flavors of your food or discolor your tea and coffee. A common cause of rotten eggs smelling water is when the presence of dissolved hydrogen sulfide. H2S is often found in water sources with a low pH and high iron content. This type of odor is also caused by sulfate reducing bacteria, feeding on sulfates in hot water. This type of issue requires different treatment methods depending on the underlying cause, so it is best to refer the problem to your water treatment technician.

Oil or Gasoline Smells

Oily or gasoline smells are usually a sign that there is a leak seeping into the water supply or aquifer. The possible reasons for contamination include leaks in storage tanks, dumping or improper disposal. The source of the seepage will need to be determined and eliminated, but you will need to stop using the water until this process is completed. Until your water treatment professional has cleared your water, you’ll need to rely on bottled water for all your food and drinking use.

By EcoWater Systems.
EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is the largest water treatment company in the state and is a member of Water Quality Association.