Tastes and smells

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Tastes and smells

Sometimes water can have a different taste or  smell because of the source of water supplied in an area.

We treat and test all the water we supply and often unusual tastes or odours relate to issues with private plumbing or appliances in your home.

Chlorine, antiseptic, metallic or bitter

It’s normal to notice a slight taste or smell of chlorine in your water as we add a small, safe amount to protect it from harmful bacteria.  Heating water can make the smell of chlorine more noticeable, so you may notice it more when you run a bath or shower.  Tastes and smells in hot drinks can be caused by plumbing materials. See table below for details.

Fuel and chemical

Oily tastes and smells are usually found when heating oil, thinners, petrol, diesel or creosote has been spilt near to underground pipework as they all contain chemicals that can permeate through plastic water pipes. .  If you think this has happened, don’t drink the water and call us immediately on 0344 346 2020.

Earthy, musty and mouldy 

Water in rivers and reservoirs can contain algae, which is removed at our treatment works. Sometimes low levels of organic matter from the algae can remain in the water, which leads to an earthy taste or smell. This is harmless and the water is safe to drink.

Source of problem

Cause of taste or smell

Solutions

Washing machine or dishwasher cold water supply hoses

The material used to make the hose can cause a taste or smell in your water

Fitting a non-return valve between your water supply pipe and appliance will prevent water returning from the hose to your water supply.

Flexible hoses used in plumbing (usually connecting under the sink)

Flexible braided metal hoses are often used in modern plumbing. Rubber or plastic lining inside them can sometimes cause antiseptic tastes

If the flexible hose is part of your drinking water plumbing, you’ll need to speak to a plumber to replace the hose with an alternative type of pipework that doesn’t contain rubber.

Tap or stop tap washers

Rubber washers can cause an odd taste or smell to individual taps or the stop tap (which will affect every tap)

You may need to replace the washer. If it’s been damaged because of a worn tap seating, you’ll need to replace the tap seating too.

Kettles

If you only notice the problem when you’re boiling the kettle it could be caused by rubber seals inside the kettle

Try heating the water using your hob or microwave – if this gets rid of the problem, you may need to replace your kettle

New plumbing and pipework

New or modified plumbing can give your water an unusual taste or smell, caused when traces of copper and other materials come into contact with water.

This will usually improve with time as a thin protective layer of natural scale forms on the new plumbing, sealing the copper.

 

Some of the individual water fittings that make up the plumbing installation in your home can give the water supply an unwanted taste. We recommend only using Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS) approved fittings.

Approved plumbers can be found through WaterSafe or on the Water Industry Approved Plumber Scheme WIAPS.

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