Why does my water sometimes taste or smell funny and is it safe to drink?
Many people think that if their water tastes or smells funny, it will make them sick if they drink it. In fact, the things that most commonly cause tap water to taste or smell strange aren’t harmful to drink. When your water tastes or smells funny, the problem might be in the water or it may not. You see, odors may actually be coming from your sink drain where bacteria grow on hair, soap, food and other things that get trapped. Gases in the drain that smell get stirred up when water pours into the pipe. Odor can also come from bacteria growing in water heaters—usually ones that have been turned off for a while or have the thermostat set too low. The list below describes where many odd tastes and smells come from.

Chlorine is added to tap water to make sure that any harmful germs in the water are killed. When you can taste or smell a bit of chlorine, your water has been properly treated. There are regulations that limit the amount of chlorine added to tap water so that it keeps the water safe to drink. An easy way to get rid of the chlorine taste and smell is to let water sit in a glass for a few minutes. Then, put the water in a covered container and chill it in the refrigerator. Cold water tastes and smells better than water at room temperature.

Algae, which are plants that live in rivers, lakes, reservoirs and other bodies of water get into open-air reservoirs that store large amounts of our drinking water. Sometimes algae are not controlled by the usual treatment and naturally make substances that can give your water an earthy or musty smell, but is not harmful in the small amounts found in water. This happens most often in the warmer months when the sun heats up the water and grows food for the algae.

This smell can occur when the source of the water is underground. The smell is from a chemical made by a bacteria and is not harmful in the small amounts found in water. The same smell can also be made by bacteria that grow on hair, soap and food in your drain.

Since some smells in tap water may be due to problems with your sink drain or water heater, there may be things you can do. To find out if the smell is coming from your sink drain or water heater, rather than the water itself, answer the following questions:
* Does the smell come from only some of your faucets?
* Does the smell go away after running the water for a few minutes?
If the answer is no — the smell comes from all the faucets and it does not go away in a few minutes, then the problem is likely in the water. To be sure, take a clean glass and go to the hose bib at the front of your property. Make sure to disconnect any hoses before running the water. Open it to its fullest, and run it for a few minutes. After that, fill the glass straight from the tap and smell it. If the water is better at the front faucet than at the faucets inside your property, you should flush your plumbing system by running all the faucets for a few minutes. If the odor is really strong and does not go away, contact the Water Quality Technician at (909) 364-2808.

Show All Answers

1. How much water is used in the City of Chino Hills daily?
2. What are the major components of the water distribution system?
3. Does the City utilize recycled water?
4. What makes ice cloudy?
5. Is my water safe to drink?
6. Is my drinking water completely free of microbes?
7. Are all chemicals in my drinking water bad for me?
8. Why does my water have nitrates, and where do nitrates come from?
9. How much lead and copper does my water have?
10. Is fluoride in my drinking water safe?
11. Is water with chlorine safe to drink?
12. How much chlorine do I have in my water?
13. Should I buy bottled water?
14. How can I find out what is in my water?
15. Who is making sure that my water is safe and healthy to drink?
16. What is done to purify the water before it comes out of the tap?
17. Why does my water sometimes look dirty, cloudy or have a funny color?
18. Why does my water sometimes taste or smell funny and is it safe to drink?
19. Why does my water leave spots on my glasses, coffeepot and showerhead?
20. Do I need to purchase a home treatment device to make my tap water safe?
21. Should I boil my water?
22. Do I need a water softener?
23. Can pregnant women drink tap water?
24. Can people with HIV/AIDS or weakened immune systems drink tap water?
25. How do I treat water during an emergency?
26. Who should I call if I have a problem with my tap water?