11 Mar 2015

H2Odors Part 2: Identifying Smells in Your Water

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woman holding her noseA few weeks ago, we helped you identify the common causes for odors in your tap water. Today, we’re covering the ways you can identify those causes and how to tell the difference between natural elements and potentially toxic chemicals. That way, you can keep everyone who relies on your home’s water supply healthy and safe.

If you notice strange or foul odors in your Indianapolis-area home’s well or municipal water supply, ask yourself the following question: Does it smell like rotten eggs, chemicals, or fuel?

My Water Smells Like: Rotten Eggs

Just to recap Part 1:  A sulfur smell, much like that of rotten eggs, is the most common odor-related reason folks contact us here at C&J Well Company. Much of the time, the presence of sulfur in tap water is due to natural causes. However, it can also be associated with equipment problems like a failing water heater, algae blooms, or agricultural runoff. If sulfur odors in your water are overwhelming or have a very sudden onset, be on the safe side — call in an expert.

My Water Smells Like: Dirt

Like sulfur, earthy odors in tap water are typically harmless and are due to natural causes. People describe these odors to us in many ways, saying their water smells musty, or it reminds them of a forest or river. For municipal water supplies, organic smells may be linked to chloramines, which are microscopic compounds containing chlorine and ammonia (commonly used in the treatment process).

On the flip side, earthy odors might also point to metallic elements like cadmium and barium. You want to make sure these materials are removed from your water supply.

My Water Smells Like: Chemicals

The presence of chemicals in a home’s drinking water is a problem that should be remedied as soon as possible. Chemicals that leak into wells or plumbing systems may come from a damaged septic system, pesticides and agricultural runoff, and even pharmaceutical waste. Chlorine, the same stuff used to clean pools and your white clothes, is also present in municipal water. Its strong disinfecting qualities are used to kill pathogens and treat water. Chlorine should rarely be noticeable in well water, though.

Chemicals can be removed from your tap water when the proper tools and methods are utilized.

My Water Smells Like: Gasoline

If your tap water smells like gasoline, you definitely have a very serious issue. Though rare, oil, fuel, and solvents can leech into the water supply due to underground storage tank leaks, illegal dumping and disposal, factory discharge, and agricultural runoff.

Drinking water tainted with petroleum products and other industrial chemicals can cause a number of health problems, so don’t ignore this one. Contact your municipal water supply and/or your local health department immediately.

What Can I Do?

The majority of odors that could be affecting your home’s water supply are easily noticeable. No matter how minor the smell may be, if you feel something might be a bit off, go ahead and contact C&J Well. We’ll tell you if the issue is something you should be concerned about, and we’ll help with products and services designed to improve your water quality.

Enjoy better smelling, better tasting tap water. And be sure to check back here soon for the final episode of our H2Odors series: Getting Rid of the Stink.