Most of the time, it can be difficult to describe the taste of water. Unlike many other beverages, water doesn’t tend to have a smell or distinct taste, but sometimes you may think there is something a little off about your water. If your water has developed a strange odor or a funky taste, it could be due to the presence of gasses, minerals, bacteria or other contaminants. It could even be due to a plumbing issue. So, if your water smells or tastes abnormal, you may need to take some action.

A Rotten Egg Smell

It is hard to miss the distinct rotten egg smell that sometimes develops in water supplies. This is often due to the presence of hydrogen sulfide or sulfur bacteria. Sulfur bacteria thrives in oxygen deficient conditions such as your plumbing system, feeding on any organic matter to create hydrogen sulfide gas, which becomes trapped in the water and creates the unpleasant odor. This is a common issue inside water heaters, and you may notice that the smell only occurs when you use your hot water. This problem can be corrected, but you need to be aware that any dissolved gas in your water supply can create excessive strain on the seals and valves. You’ll need to ensure that the gas can be safely vented and call in professional help to test your water. A technician may also need to flush your water heater and replace the magnesium anode. You may also wish to consider a water treatment system that can remove impurities and eliminate any hydrogen sulfide gas from your water supply.

Sewage Smells

As we’re used to a neutral smell, it can be very disconcerting when your water supply has a sewage smell. This is usually caused by bacteria inside your plumbing system or water heater. While the bacteria may not be harmful, it feeds on any food particles, soap or other debris and produces gas. The bacteria will need to be eliminated to get rid of that funky smell. Fortunately, there are a number of water treatment options that can effectively eliminate many forms of bacteria. Reverse Osmosis can remove up to 99.99 percent of viruses, bacteria, and pathogens, but an experienced water treatment expert can provide more specific guidance based on your water test results.

Salty Water

Salt water is very unpalatable and can compromise any cooking or baking you make using your drinking water. If your water tastes salty, it could be due to high chloride ions in your water supply from irrigation drainage, industrial activity or sea water infiltrating the supply lines. A salty taste can also be caused by the presence of magnesium sulfate, a naturally occurring mineral or by road salt runoff. You’ll need to have a water test to determine the type and level of contamination. If your water has a sulfate level of 500 mg/l, it can have a laxative effect and cause stomach upsets. Your water treatment specialist can assess your water supply and recommend the devices and systems that are best suited to your specific requirements.

By Terry Reeh, EcoWater Systems of Nebraska. 

With more than 25 years experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Terry is a WQA (Water Quality Association) certified water specialist, LEVEL 3, as well as a WQA certified sales representative.  Terry currently sits on EcoWater Systems (a Berkshire Hathaway Company) national Peers committee, as a water treatment expert advising other water professionals with less experience on best trade and technology practices. EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is one of the biggest water treatment and water delivery businesses in the state.