Tastes and smells

Tastes and smells

We work hard to provide clean, clear and great tasting water.

If you think your water doesn′t meet our high standards, read the information in this page. It can help you understand if the issue you are experiencing is being caused by the water supply system, or by something happening within your premises.

Extra help and advice

If you want to find out more information on tastes and smells in your water, we have a list of resources you may find useful:

Does your water taste or smell of chlorine?

Our water comes from different sources, like rivers, reservoirs and groundwater. This means you may notice a difference in taste between areas in the North East. These small differences are perfectly normal.

Take a look at the common reasons for a change in the taste or smell of your water.

Just moved premises?

If you have moved property, your water may come from a new source. You'll get used to the taste over time.

Top tip! Chilling your water in the fridge for an hour or two can help as your taste adapts.

Has your property stood empty for a while?

If you've come back from holiday, and the property has stood empty for some time, the water in your pipes may be stale. Your water may taste metallic or musty.

Top tip! Run the cold taps to flush the system to clear the old water away.

Seasonal changes

Seasonal changes also affect how our water tastes. Slight changes in chlorine are perfectly normal as there will be small changes from time to time. Chlorine may taste or smell stronger in the cold weather.

Top tip! Use our chilled water tip. Fill a jug or bottle and put it in the fridge. Remember to pour any unused water away at the end of your day and refill it, to keep the water fresh.

Does your water taste or smell of antiseptic, TCP or mouthwash?

We treat our water with chlorine in order to kill harmful bacteria. This chlorine can react with the plastics and rubbers in your plumbing, which can result in a taste or smell of TCP, or similar.

If the taste or smell is only noticeable in hot drinks, it may be because of your kettle. If your kettle is new, make sure to use fresh water every time you use it. If your kettle is older, and worn, it may be time to replace it.

If the taste or smell is noticeable in hot and cold drinks, check your plumbing and fittings. Worn, damaged fittings should be replaced with WRAS-approved ones.

Does your water taste or smell earthy, musty or stale?

Read the common causes of "musty" water, and what you can do about it.

Standing water

"Musty" or "stale" tastes and smells can be caused by standing water. If your property has stood empty for a while, run your cold water to flush out the pipes.

Blocked drains and pipes

If the smell is only present when you're near your sinks, make sure your sink and overflow are clean. Fats, greases and oils build up in pipes, leading to unpleasant smells and blockages. Wash the overflow with bleach and very hot water. A plumber can help clear your internal pipework.

Pipe insulation

Hot and cold water pipes that run close together must be properly lagged and insulated. This means the heat from the hot water supply doesn't warm the water in the cold supply.

Does your water taste or smell of fish or egg?

If you notice an "eggy" or "fishy" smell or taste in your water, you may need to clean your overflow pipes. Don′t worry, the pipes supplying your water are separate to the waste pipes.

If you notice the smell goes away when you′re not near a sink, it is likely the smell is caused by the sink overflow.



Top tip! Try cleaning the sink and overflow with very hot water and bleach. Make sure you throw out old, dirty disposable sponges and dishcloths, and clean your sink and taps with diluted bleach solutions. Be sure to only use cleaning chemicals that are safe for your kitchen surfaces.

If the smell or taste continues, and your neighbours are unaffected, contact a reliable plumber. You can find a list of local, approved plumbers, at www.watersafe.org.uk.

Could your plumbing be the cause of a change in taste or smell?

In our experience, a lot of customers report issues to us and we find the problem came from within the property, rather than the water supply.

If the answer to any of the following questions is yes, it is highly likely the plumbing is causing the issue:

  • Have you had a new kitchen installed?
  • Have you had a new tap/sink fitted?
  • Have you plumbed in a washing machine or dishwasher?
  • Have you had a leak and replaced any water pipes under the kitchen sink?
More advice to keep your water tasting and smelling great
  • Plumbed in appliances, such as washing machines or dishwashers, should have a non-return valve fitted to stop backflow
  • Approved plastic hose connections and seals to stop reactions causing problems (look for the kitemark or BS6920)
  • ‘Filling loops’ on combi boilers are protected by a double non-return valve to stop backflow
  • Any filters, softeners or scale eliminators are fitted after the drinking water tap
  • You check fuel or oil tanks stored on site as leaks (new and old) can pass┬áchemicals through plastic water pipes
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