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No one ever expects to turn the tap on only to discover that their water smells like sewage. Unfortunately, there are times when that happens. If your tap water smells bad it could be a sign that something is wrong with it. Even if it’s not bad, no one wants to drink or bathe when their tap water smells like sewage.

The first thing you need to do when your water smells like sewage is find out what’s causing that smell! If your tap water smells bad it may be as simple as getting a water filter for your home. If you’re worried there is a problem with your water, the best thing you can do is act quickly. Keep reading to learn more about what to do when your tap water smells like sewage.

What Does it Mean when Water Smells like Sewage?

The most likely reason that your water smells like sewage is because of bacteria. Bacteria can come from the presence of soap, food, or something else that’s inside your drain. The bacteria create a gas that fills the drain and once the water is turned on, the gas moves up, causing the air surrounding the sink to smell. This gives the illusion that your hot water smells like sewage, but it’s really the drain and not your water.

If your hot water smells like sewage, but you don’t notice a smell when your cold water is on, the problem could be with bacteria that’s in your water heater. If your water heater is not used for an extended period of time or the temperature on the heater is too low, this could cause bacteria. In this scenario, the water smells like sewage, but as the bacteria is in the water heater, the water is still safe to use. Of course, no one likes it when water smells like sewage, so you’ll want to clean and remove the bacteria from the water heater. This will be the only way to remove the smell.

When water smells like sewage it can also signify hydrogen sulfide. When your water smells musty or like rotten eggs, it’s also due to hydrogen sulfide. This will point to a problem with the water itself.

Lastly, and most importantly, there are some rare situations where your drinking water could actually be contaminated by sewage. This happens in instances of sewage overflow, sewer line leaks, or septic tank issues. Drinking water contaminated by sewage could cause diseases that include Giardia, E coli, Hepitatis A, and helminths, to name just a few (the Indiana State Department of Health has a comprehensive list of diseases involving sewage).

How to Fix it When Your Water Smells Like Sewage

If you’re not sure where the smell is coming from, the first thing you need to do is find out. An easy way to do this is to pour a glass of water. Take the water away from your sink and smell it. If your water still smells like sewage, it’s the water. If it doesn’t smell bad, you’ll need to disinfect your pipes and sink so that the smell goes away.

When your hot water heater is the issue you can try turning up the water temperature. After you’ve turned it up make sure to run the hot water so that it will run through and flush out the pipes. Make sure to be mindful of how high the temperature on the water heater is, as you don’t want to burn yourself when you run water.

You may also need to have your water tested. If you have a well and the source of the smell is the water, you should definitely consider water testing. This will give you a clear picture of what’s in your water, so you can get rid of any bad tastes or smells.

Will Water Filters Help if my Water Smells like Sewage?

The best thing you can do if your water smells like sewage is determine where the smell is coming from and correct the problem. That said, water filters are a good investment for anyone interested in having cleaner water. Ultimately, the best water filter for your needs will depend on how much you want to spend and how many contaminants you’re looking to remove from your water. You can order a simple pitcher filter or faucet filter that filters your drinking water (don’t forget that filtering your shower water is important too). If you’re willing to spend more money you can get a whole house filter that will filter out all of the water in your home.

How To Disinfect Your Kitchen Sink Drain 

To disinfect your kitchen sink drain, follow these steps:

Step One: Take a cup of water and boil it. Pour the hot water into a bowl, then pour it down the drain. If there is food or soap stuck inside the drain, the hot water will melt it away. 

Step Two: Pour a handful of baking soda into the sink. You can use a brush to push the baking soda in.

Step Three: Pour a decent amount of white vinegar into the sink. You should see a “fizz.” Wait for a few minutes, then rinse your sink drain with hot water. 

Step Four: You can pour in lemon juice or the juice of any citrus fruit down the drain to eleviate the bad smell. 

You can also use a chemical-based sink drain cleaner. If you’re not up for the task, you can hire a plumber.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I drink water that smells like sewage? 

Whether you can drink water that smells like sewage depends on the situation. Get a glass of tap water, then take it away from the kitchen and smell it. If there is no foul odor, the bad smell is probably coming from the drain pipe. You can drink water in this situation. On the other hand, if the bad odor comes from the actual water, it means there is a presence of bacteria in it, or your water has been contaminated by sewage. You should not drink water that has an unpleasant odor to prevent any health issues. 

Where can I test my water for bacteria? 

Testing water for different types of bacteria should be done by a professional. The first place you test your water for bacteria is in your city’s health department. Most states have a specific laboratory for testing for bacteria. Make sure you call beforehand, so you have all the necessary things you need on you on the day of the appointment. 

Another place to test your water for bacteria is at a certified laboratory. Research their credentials before you take action. Also, you can test your water for bacteria at home with a low-cost kit. Don’t depend on your findings alone – ensure you retest at a certified laboratory.

Why does my water smell like metal? 

One of the major reasons why your water smells like metal is because of your pipes. If you have old, rusty pipes, the corrosion can get into your pipes and cause them to smell metallic. If your water tastes metallic, it could be because of the high concentration of metals like copper, zinc, manganese, lead, or iron in the water. 

Water that tastes like metal doesn’t pose any health threat when you drink it in small quantities. However, once you notice the metallic smell of taste in your water, you should stop drinking it until it’s been resolved. The best thing to do is call a water system professional to take a look.

There could be a number of reasons why your water smells like sewage and most of them are easy to fix! Make sure to have a filter that cleans up your water and clean up the problem once you learn where it’s coming from. If you have other water issues, we’re here to help!