smiling man pouring water in the jug from a tap

How to Resolve 6 Common Tap Water Smells

Imagine turning on your kitchen tap to get a glass of clean water and being punched in the face by a foul smell. Whether the strange odour is emitting from the kitchen or bathroom faucets, knowing the source will help you determine the proper solutions for the tap water odour.

Tap water issues are dependent on the source of the water. A ground well may become contaminated by the surrounding environment while homes on city or town water may be affected by municipal sources.

What Are the Most Common Tap Water Odours?

Common tap water odours might smell sweet, sour, or putrid. Here are some common odours you might notice and how you can deal with them.

Bleach or Chemical Odour

One of the most common types of tap water smells is bleach. If your water smells like your local swimming pool, it might raise a few red flags. But believe it or not, the small amount of this chemical in tap water is actually not harmful; it’s just offensive to your nose. The odour usually occurs when municipalities “shock” the local water system with an excess of chlorine. This is often done to destroy bacteria found in the testing of the water.

Rotten Eggs

If the tap water gives off a pungent odour of rotten eggs, the source is most likely sulphur bacteria growth. This form of bacteria gathers within the pipes and drains from collected organic matter, such as food waste. Noted as one of the worst water smells, this bacteria is not harmful to your physical health, but it does affect the taste as well as the smell of tap water.


Like rotten eggs, the smell of the sewer can be overwhelming, especially in your tap water. While the odour may be alarming, it may be caused by a combination of bacteria growths in the pipes. These types of bacteria develop with hair, soap, and other organic decaying sources.

Households with ground wells often have bacteria growth near or in the well system that causes a sewer smell.

Gasoline or Petroleum Odour

If the smell of gasoline or other fuels are present, leave the house immediately and call your local municipality or health department. This odour may be related to a leak in a nearby fuel source, which can be a dangerous situation. Water supplies can also be contaminated by fuels from water run-offs from landfills, factories, or agricultural sources. Consumption of fuel-laced tap water can cause severe health conditions such as anemia, kidney and liver problems, or cancer.

Fishy/Earthy Smell

Tap water that emits an earthy or fish smell is usually caused by decaying food and organic matter flushed down the sink drains. Although harmless, these odours can make drinking tap water unpleasant. Another source can be the growth of algae, fungi, and bacteria within the pipes or water tank. In addition to the smell, a slimy growth may be visible in toilet bowls. An earthy odour can be expected during the warmer months of summer.

Metallic Smell

An increased concentration of zinc or copper can cause regular tap water to give off a metallic odour when running. This is evident when pH levels drop, causing the water to be acidic. An abundance of these minerals can destroy the pipes and fittings within the house system, causing a metallic smell.

How Can You Get Rid of Odours from Your Tap Water?

Whether the kitchen or bathroom faucets are emitting foul or slight odours, it is recommended to take action to uncover the source. There are many water treatments on the market that may delay the odour production until a professional can attend to the problem.

Water odours that transfer into the taste of the water may cause sensitivities in some people, affecting their health.

Here are some tips to eliminate foul odours from your tap water.

Choose a Disinfection Method

When looking for ways to get rid of tap water odours, many homeowners choose to disinfect the water source with the use of chlorine or chloramine. Disinfection is a common method used by water treatment plants and small municipalities to maintain public health standards for drinking water. For most households, the odour will dissipate within a 72-hour period, depending on the treatment.

Run the Water Faucet for a Few Minutes

With minor issues, running the water faucet for a few minutes can remove the odour. Check the source by running all faucets at different times. If the odour is present in all faucets, the issue may lie within the household plumbing. If only a few faucets are affected, the issue may be in the pipes leading to that particular faucet.


Another popular technique to remove odours is aeration. Different methods include introducing air directly into the water source or aerating the water in a storage tank. Using a combination of aeration and filtration, the odour may be destroyed along with any associated bacteria.

Install a Whole Home Water Filtration System in Your Home

One of the more popular ways homeowners can protect the integrity of their tap water, and their health, is by installing a whole-home hard water filtration system. A whole home filter system is designed to target heavy metals and volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) that cause odours.

Looking for Tap Water Odour Solutions? Contact Georgian Water & Air Today!

If your tap water has a foul or faint odour, contact the water experts of Georgian Water & Air. For all water treatment solutions in Ontario, we provide and install water filter systems for the home, including water softener systems. We source Canadian-designed and manufactured products to complement our top-quality customer service and warranties.

As a locally owned company, our friendly technicians provide solutions for your home, cottage, or business. We carry an exclusive line of products for water treatment systems in Ottawa, Sudbury, Barrie, and in-between. Call us today!