Issues with your water's taste or smell

You may not notice, but every water supply has its own distinct taste due to its chemical composition.

This is why you may notice a difference when you travel to a different area of the country. Taste problems in water come partly from salts and the presence of specific metals such as iron, copper, manganese and zinc.

The difference can be more noticeable depending on the hardness of your water. Some people are also more sensitive to tastes and odours than others, which means that some may notice a slight taste which others may not.

Usually, your water tasting or smelling different to normal is nothing to worry about – but if your water's taste of smell suddenly becomes much stronger or unpleasant, please call our emergency phone number and a Water Quality Adviser will call you back within 24 hours to discuss the issue further:

0330 303 0368

If you think your water supply is making you ill, we strongly recommend you speak to your doctor to determine what is causing the issue.


Why your water might taste or smell different

Chlorine smell

This is perfectly normal and comes from the small amounts of chlorine that remain in your supply known as ‘chlorine residual’.

Follow the link to find out more on why we add chlorine to water.

Metallic taste

You may sometimes experience a metallic taste if your water has warmed up in your pipes and has picked up traces of substances like copper.

This is more noticeable in large buildings with long lengths of pipework and low water flows.

Occasionally this may also be caused by iron from old pipes.

Earthy or musty smell

Some customers have described a stale or pond-like smell from their water.

This can be caused by:

  • water becoming stagnant in long lengths of pipes in large buildings
  • algae or microorganisms in raw water sources. These can produce trace compounds called 'geosmin' and 'methylisoborneol' which have an earthy or musty taste or smell. In areas where we know this is a problem, we treat the water with activated carbon or ozone, or both.
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