In its purest form, water doesn’t smell or taste like anything. But that’s not always the case when you turn on your tap. Many people think their water tastes weird, or even bad. Foul tasting water may indicate a serious problem, but usually it’s just inconvenient. The right water treatment system can make your water taste better and ensure that it’s safe to drink and cook with. Below are seven of the most common complaints about how water tastes and what you can do to fix them.
The most common complaint from those using municipal water is that it tastes like chlorine. If your water tastes or smells like a swimming pool, that’s because chlorine or chloramine are commonly used in water treatment plants to disinfect the water and kill any bacteria, parasites, and viruses before that water is sent to your home. The amount of chlorine added to municipal water isn’t harmful, and it’s there to keep your water safe, but many find the taste unpleasant. But you don’t have to resign yourself to a lifetime of bottled water. A carbon filter can remove excess chlorine to make your water taste better.
Rotten Egg Taste
If your water suddenly smells like rotten eggs, you’re sure to take notice. This isn’t as harmful as it may seem, but it’s definitely gross. A sulfur smell usually indicates a buildup of hydrogen sulfide gas that’s given off by a certain type of bacteria. This is most common in homes with their own well, where bacteria are left untreated. If you only notice the smell when using hot water, the bacteria may be growing inside your hot water heater, especially if water has stagnated inside. A plumber should be called to flush out your system. Hydrogen sulfide (or the bacteria that cause it) may cause minor digestive distress in some people, especially babies, though it rarely results in serious health problems. But it can corrode your pipes and cause plumbing problems down the line if not addressed. Filters can be installed to remove the hydrogen sulfide and improve your water’s smell and taste. It’s best to get your water tested first to ensure your water hasn’t been contaminated with sewage, which is rare but much more serious.
Earthy or Musty Taste
If your water suddenly takes on an earthy or musty flavor, an algae bloom in your water source might be to blame. In the last few years, several communities in Pennsylvania have made the news when their water suddenly started to taste like dirt. Algal blooms occur when colonies of algae – tiny water-based plants – grow out of control, often because of an excess of nutrients. This disrupts ecosystems and can even release dangerous toxins. If water affected by an algae bloom has been treated at a municipal water treatment plant, it should be safe to drink. But it may not taste very good. According to the Department of Environmental Protection, algal blooms are most common in Pennsylvania from mid June to late August, but can occur at any time. Algae and bacteria can also grow within private wells. Since that water hasn’t been treated, it’s especially important to have your water tested to insure the bacteria aren’t harmful. No matter where your water comes from, there are several water treatment options that can remove the unpleasant flavor.
Although water can enter your home already contaminated with heavy metals, if your water tastes metallic, the most common culprit is your own pipes. Iron, copper, and lead pipes can all corrode over time, leaching these metals into your drinking water. While iron tastes like blood and copper tastes like pennies, lead is unfortunately tasteless. If you live in an older home, you should check what your pipes are made of and consider whether any of them need to be replaced, or if water treatment alone will address the problem. Even in newer homes, high levels of zinc or manganese from your water supply may affect your water’s taste. A reverse osmosis system and some filters can remove metals from your water.
Sour or Bitter Taste
If you can describe your water as “sour” or “bitter” that may have to do with its pH. Water with a pH lower than 7 is acidic and may taste sour. Water with a pH higher than 7 is alkaline and may taste bitter. In Pennsylvania, it’s more likely that your water is hard with a bitter taste. Water testing can determine your pH and help suggest the best treatment plan.
In coastal areas, fresh water can become contaminated and taste salty. This isn’t a common problem in Pennsylvania. However, water can sometimes taste saltier in winter or early spring if runoff from salted roads makes it into the water supply. If you use a water softener and notice that your water tastes salty, there may be something wrong with that system. Although sodium ions are used in the softening process, there shouldn’t be enough left behind that you taste them. If you think your water softener is the culprit, you should call your local water treatment experts like Dierolf to take a look.
Gas or Turpentine
If your water smells or tastes like gas, turpentine, or any chemical that isn’t chlorine, this is bad news! You should stop drinking the water immediately and call a water treatment expert immediately to get it tested. There may be a gas leak or dangerous runoff entering your water supply. Depending on the test results, you may need to get a plumber or your water utility company involved.
If your water smells or tastes weird, you don’t have to live with it! Although bad tasting water is rarely dangerous, it’s not very refreshing. Dierolf Plumbing and Water Treatment can test your water to diagnose any problems and recommend the best water treatment system to make your water safe and tasty.