How to Treat Smelly Water

Does your water smell bad? It may be partially because of something in the environment, or there could be a more serious issue. Sometimes people notice that their water smells like fish, sulfur, rotten eggs, sewage, chlorine, or bleach. Sometimes they even say it smells musty. Smelly water may be caused by pipe erosion or an environmental cause, like sediment leaking into the plumbing system. A more serious issue is that hydrogen sulfide or sulfur bacteria is in the water, which may indicate the presence of sewage. If you suspect the latter, call a professional immediately. You’ll want to have your water tested by the health department. However, chances are it is just erosion in pipes, which can often leave very low amounts of copper, iron, and sometimes even lead. That will cause your water to both smell and taste a bit funky. You may be able to determine the issue based upon how many drains in your home are affected and the smell coming from them.


Odors may only occur in one of your water faucets. If the smell goes away after running the water for several minutes, there’s probably an issue with the fixture or the pipes that lead to that faucet specifically. If you notice an odor in the water from all the faucets and it goes away after running the water, you may have an issue in your plumbing system (as opposed to your water source). If the problem doesn’t go away after running water for a few minutes, and only the hot water smells, you could have an issue with the magnesium rod in your hot water tank. If both the hot and cold water smells, the source of the odor is trickier to determine. It may be caused by your water or your plumbing system.


There are different ways to treat your water depending upon the smell you notice. A bleach or chlorine smell isn’t uncommon, as chlorine is used by the city to prevent bacterial growth. Let the water run until the smell is gone. However, if your water is from a well, you’ll want to flush your system. A rotten egg smell is likely the result of bacteria growth from the drain or your water heater. You should flush and clean your drain if it’s a drain problem. If it’s bacterial growth, you will need a plumber to replace your magnesium rod, or determine if you have harmful bacteria growing in your water source. Next steps would involve treating your well with shock chlorination, contacting the health department regarding a faulty septic system, or calling your water supplier to determine if your water source has been switched or if your water is being affected by algal blooms. Musty or earthy water smells likely indicate there is bacteria in your water caused by decaying matter in your drain or there is well water pollution. If you have public water, there may not be enough chlorine in the water, and you’ll need to contact your water supplier.


Buying a water filtration system is a great investment if you’re worried about your water. It will easily filter out any metallic particles, sediment, or sulfur bacteria. Your water will both smell and taste normal with a filtration system. Rely on the experts in water treatment and give us a call at 1-877-FINKENS.