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Different Water Odors and What They Mean

Different Water Odors and What They Mean

We all expect our home’s water to be pure and odorless. This is the reason why water is treated to begin with. However, this isn’t always the case. If a strange odor is coming from your faucet or showerhead, it could mean one of several different things. Every water odor is different, and each means different things. We’ll tackle the most common water odors and what to do if you smell one of them.

The Smell of Rotten Eggs

A sulfuric smell is often described as smelling of rotten eggs, and you might smell this for one of many reasons. Usually, decaying matter in the drain—such as hair, soap, or food waste—can contribute to this smell, as they provide food for bacteria to grow. These deposits tend to line the walls of the drain, and as they decay, they release sulfuric gas, which gives the water a sulfuric smell. This is a particularly common smell for garbage disposals and bathroom sinks.

Luckily, getting rid of this water odor isn’t difficult—it could be as simple as pouring baking soda and vinegar down your drain.

A Musty, Earthy, or Fishy Smell

These odors are harmless, but the human nose is incredibly sensitive to them. Bacteria also triggers this smell, which sometimes indicates pollution from well water or surface drainage. You can clean your reservoir or pressure tank to prevent bacteria from growing to a level at which the smell becomes overpowering.

Petroleum, Gasoline, and Turpentine

This unusual water odor means something potentially more serious than the other entries on this list. If you smell any of these odors in your water, the issue could be particularly serious. It may mean that a fuel tank or underground fuel storage tank is leaking. It could also be the result of discharge from factories or landfills that’s contaminating the water supply. These causes can lead to many health consequences, such as anemia, increased cancer risk, and liver and kidney problems. If you notice any of these odors, you’ll want to contact your water supply or county health authority.

In short, there are many reasons why your water could smell strange. Not all of them are causes for alarm, but it’s good to at least have this information on hand to determine the next steps. Some of these things are best left to a professional, so remember that as one of your options.

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