Los Angeles water continues to be clean and safe to drink. The state of California meticulously processes and treats all the water in its municipal supply system. Every year, reports on Los Angeles water quality show that there is little to be concerned about. The thing is: if your water smells bad, none of that is going to matter to you.
All the info in the world won’t convince you to sip on water that smells like rotten eggs. When your water smells bad, you don’t want to “deal with it”; you want to fix it. To do that, you have to figure out what’s causing the smell in the first place. Here are four of the most common water smells homeowners deal with, what they mean, and how to fix them.
When your water smells metallic – or worse, your water tastes like metal, it’s usually because deposits of iron, zinc, or manganese have leached into it. Iron and manganese naturally occur in most water sources and aren’t considered dangerous. Iron and zinc can also leach into your water supply directly from your pipes. As metallic pipes age and corrode, metal particulates chip away from the walls and enter the water supply. Metal particulates also build up in water heaters over time. If your hot water smells like metal, flush your water heater to drain the metallic sediment within.
Unfortunately, however, water could also smell metallic because it contains lead. Lead soldering was used to connect pipes all the way until 1986. As it ages and breaks down, this soldering may introduce lead into your water supply. If there’s a chance your home’s water pipes were installed before 1986, you could have lead in your water supply. You should have water supply pipes that contain lead replaced immediately.
Musty or Moldy
First, the good news: that moldy smell is almost certainly not a health hazard. Moldy, musty, or earthy smells in tap water happen when algae blooms at the source of the water supply. The typical city treatment process filters out algae, but it can’t always eliminate the residual smell completely. During peak growth seasons, large algae blooms in water can create lingering smells that are tough to remove. Which brings us to the bad news: there isn’t much you can do about algae smells.
If your tap water smells musty and is tough to drink, try refrigerating it. If the problem lasts for longer than a day or two, try looking up local water supply news online or calling your utility company. Chances are, your municipality is working on a treatment solution. If algae isn’t the problem, try thoroughly cleaning your tap, sink, and water fixtures. Bacteria growth on the sink or in the pipes may also infrequently create a moldy smell in your water.
The infamous rotten egg or sulfur smell comes from a gas called hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide occurs naturally in water supplies because it’s produced when organic material like plants decay. Water absorbs the sulfides produced by decaying material as it passes by and picks up the smell. Hydrogen sulfide in water isn’t considered dangerous, but it can encourage pipe corrosion and blacken your water. To remove excess hydrogen sulfide buildup, you have to isolate where it is. If the cold water doesn’t smell but the hot water does, the problem is probably the water heater. Hydrogen sulfide tends to build up in water heaters because water heater tanks foster sulfur-reducing bacteria. This bacteria chemically changes sulfur into hydrogen sulfide. Flushing your water heater should remove it, and the smell it’s helping to make. If both the cold and hot water smell like rotten eggs, have your water softener serviced instead.
There are several minerals that can cause a salty smell or aftertaste in water. Probably the most common mineral affecting the salty taste of your water is chloride. Chloride naturally seeps into water from the earth, and it’s also found in industrial waste and sewage. Excess chloride may leach into water after irrigation, industrial, or even sewage accidents. If your water suddenly tastes much saltier than usual, it could be from sewage contamination.
Sewage makes water saltier because waste contains a lot of sodium and chloride. Obviously, drinking water contaminated by sewage is a serious health hazard but sewage contamination isn’t the only reason why your water might taste salty. It’s also possible that seawater leaked into the water supply, or rainfall introduced sulfates or other minerals unexpectedly. It’s even possible that your water softener is using too much salt! Still, if your water tastes salty and you can’t account for why, consider having it tested immediately. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your health.
Get Rid of That Funny Water Smell
Weird tastes in your water may not always be a huge concern, but they’re worth looking into. If you’ve recently wondered why your shower water smells like metal or the water from your faucet smells like mildew, trust the pros at Mike Diamond to identify and resolve the situation.
If you don’t see your water problem listed here or you can’t figure out where that smell is coming from, call Mike Diamond. Everyone deserves clean, safe water and your local Los Angeles plumber has the experience and tools to fix yours.