The hot water heater is the likely cause of this issue.
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A metallic taste in water can be caused by metals leeching into the water from old pipes under and within an old home. Have a licensed plumber check the pipes. Another potential cause is a change in a customer’s body chemistry due to a new medication. Check your medications and their potential side effects with your doctor.
Earthy and musty off-flavors in water occur worldwide, come from nature, and have no known health effects at their natural levels.
Earthy and musty odors can be found in natural waters and in soils, as well as in beets and corn (because they are grown in contact with soil). In waterways, when certain algae grow in abundance in what we call an algae bloom, high levels of these odors are produced. These taste and odor problems are sporadic and usually occur in the summertime when weather conditions are most likely to induce an algae bloom. The technical name for the chemicals produced by the majority of odor-causing algae is 2-methylisoborneol (MIB) and geosmin.
Helix uses ozone in the treatment process and one of its benefits is that it is very effective at removing earthy and musty flavors and odors. However, even at extremely low levels, such as 5 parts per trillion, highly sensitive people can still taste or smell them. When a large algae bloom occurs, more people detect an issue. A way of masking this harmless musty taste and odor is chilling your tap water.
Algae-related water quality issues usually clear up in a few days.
Helix Water District has been using ozone as its primary disinfectant since 2002. Chloramines, a combination of chlorine and ammonia, are added to the water at the end of the treatment process in order to maintain disinfection residual. The following are some answers to frequently asked questions on chloramines. If you have further questions, please call us at 619-667-6248 during business hours or at 619-466-3234 after hours.
Environmental Protection Agency. 1994. Drinking Water Criteria Document For Chloramines Final Draft ECAO-CIN-D002. March 1994. Chloramines-EPA-1994 (PDF)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NTP TR 392 Toxicology and Carcinogenesis Studies of Chlorinated Water (CAS Numbers 7782-50-5 and 7681-52-9) and Chloraminated Water (CAS Number 10599-90-3) (Deionized and Charcoal-Filtered) in F344/N Rats and B6C3F1 Mice (Drinking Water Studies) March 1992.
Solvent-like odors are more often than not associated with work activities around the home. Recent work on irrigation systems, for instance, can lead to smells related to PVC glue. These odors can be fed back into the home as internal water use draws small amounts of water out of the irrigation system and into the interior plumbing. Solvent odors due to irrigation work are generally short-lived and can be removed by flushing water through the home's faucets.
Additionally, solvents introduced into a water meter box or into the soil around a PVC (plastic) service line can create noticeable odors. This results from solvents penetrating the plastic and entering the water. The intentional discharge of paints, solvents or any other chemicals into the meter box is illegal and a finable offense. Please contact HWD immediately if you observe anyone doing so. The only means to rectify such a problem is to replace any piping and contaminated soil in the immediate area. The soil is considered hazardous waste and is very costly to dispose of properly.
If you are experiencing problems of this sort that cannot be easily explained, please call us at 619-667-6248 during business hours or 619-466-3234 after hours, or email Helix District Water.
When experiencing a rotten egg-type odor at the tap, the first step is to attempt to isolate the source of the odor. First, check to see if the odor is present at all taps or just one. If the odor is present at only one tap, the source of the odor is most likely the drain in that particular sink, shower or bathtub. All of the plumbing fixtures in your home receive water from the same source. Therefore, if the water is the source of the odor, it would be present at all the taps.
Food particles, hair, and other items have a tendency to build up in drains forming bacterial gases and causing a foul 'rotten egg' odor. Often, this odor is stronger in the morning. This is usually due to the fact that the drain hasn't been used for several hours and the bacterial gases get expelled into the atmosphere when water displaces air in a drain trap. Also, when brushing teeth and hunched over a sink, one is closer to the source.
To remove the rotten egg odor from drain traps, pour ½ cup of household (unscented) bleach into the drain. Most bathroom sinks have an overflow drain that runs from the top of the basin down to the drain. This overflow line also can be a cause of odors as it has a tendency to remain moist and is a breeding ground for bacteria and mold. Cleaning this area can be accomplished by filling the sink with a diluted bleach solution to the point of the solution flowing into the overflow. Allow about a cup of it to flow into the overflow and let it sit for about five minutes, then drain. This solution will also clean the trap as it drains. To prevent these odors from returning, routinely flush all drains with half a cup of bleach once a month.
If your sink or shower is clogged or drains running slowly, use a commercial drain-opening product to eliminate any blockages. Do not use both commercial drain openers and bleach because this may cause a hazardous reaction.
If you detect the same odor from all the faucets, the next step is to run some water into a glass and take the glass into another room where there is no plumbing, such as the living room. Is the odor still present? If the odor is no longer present, the source of the odor is within the drains. See the recommendations above regarding flushing drains to prevent odors. If the odor still can be detected when you are not near the drains, determine if the odor is coming from the hot water only, cold only, or both hot and cold:
See Hot Water Heaters on the Water Quality FAQs page.
See Water Filters and Treatment Devices on the Water Quality FAQs page.
Please call us at 619-667-6248 or email Helix Water District.