Help and advice

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 home.

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. 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 home?

If you have moved house, 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 house stood empty for a while?

If you've come back from holiday, and the house 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 TCP, antiseptic 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 home 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 sink, make sure your sink and overflow are clean. Fats, greases and oils can 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.

Your plumbing

In our experience, a lot of customers report issues to us and we find the problem came from within the home, 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, 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 leach chemicals through plastic water pipes.

Taste and smells

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    Antiseptic, medical or TCP smells or tastes

    This taste or smell is often described as medicinal, antiseptic, mouthwash or disinfectant. It can be described as having a chemical taste.


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    Bad drains, fishy or bad egg smells or tastes

    These tastes or smells are often caused by the sink waste pipes but can seem to be present in the water supply.


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    Chlorine smells or tastes

    The taste and smell of chlorine is often described as like bleach or a swimming pool.


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    Earthy, musty or stale smells or tastes

    This taste is often described as stale, peaty or like compost.


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    Metallic or bitter smells or tastes

    This taste or smell is often described as being metallic, bitter, inky or like blood.


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    Petrol or diesel smells or tastes

    This taste is often described as being like fuel, solvents, white spirit or creosote.


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Water quality is checked at every stage on its journey to your taps. At the treatment works it is monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to ensure that the water is safe to use. Find out more


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