Why does water sometimes taste or smell "funny"?

Why does water sometimes taste/smell “funny”?

  • The most common reason for water that tastes “funny” is the chlorine that is added to drinking water to kill bacteria and other waterborne organisms that can affect human health. Chlorine is used as a disinfectant and is critical to the water treatment process. In fact, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency require water utilities to maintain a certain level of disinfectant in the distribution system to protect consumers from disease-causing bacteria as the water travels from our treatment plant along the miles of pipeline and in your home.

What are other potential causes of sudden changes in the taste/odor?

  • Changing weather conditions and algae outbreaks can produce earthy or musty tastes and odors. This occurs seasonally, typically in the spring or fall.
  • Chlorine odors may be more noticeable in warmer water temperatures than cold water.
  •  Taste and odor problems in certain taps in your home could be the result of internal plumbing problems. Drain odors can sometimes be perceived as the odor being present in the water. To verify if the water contains the odor, fill a clean glass (plastic not recommended) with water from the tap and move away from the sink area. Some home water treatment devices can cause taste and odor issues if they are not maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Hot water heaters need to be flushed periodically to minimize tastes and odors. If not maintained properly, you might experience a rotten egg odor in your hot water only. Follow all manufacturer’s recommendations outlined in your owner’s manual for properly maintaining your unit.
  •  Water that has not been used for a period may have a taste and odor present. Flush your taps when returning home if the water has not been used for 24 hours.
  • Some medications increase a person’s sensitivity to taste and odors in water.

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4. Why does water sometimes taste or smell "funny"?