By Drain Doctor on 01/06/2016

Very often we will notice a particular taste or odour in our tap water. There are a number of reasons for this. Here we give you a few examples of taste and odour, what causes them and things that you might do to improve the taste of your drinking water.

Hard or soft water

Where you live can determine the taste of your water. For example, you might notice a strong taste in a hard water area. This is because the water has traces of minerals such as calcium or magnesium. The best way to reduce the effects of minerals and to improve the taste of beverages such as tea, which benefit from soft water, is to use a water filter.


Water companies add chlorine to the water at the treatment works to ensure that it is safe to drink. The level of chlorine left in the water when it comes out of your tap is very low and is not harmful to health. Sometimes a taste or smell of chlorine can become more noticeable, which some people find unpleasant. Keeping water in a covered jug in the fridge should improve the taste and smell.

TCP-like tastes and odours

If your tap water develops a medicinal, chemical, metallic or TCP-like taste or smell, it is likely that the chlorine in the water is reacting with rubber or plastic components within your domestic plumbing system or in your kettle. The taste and smell is often stronger if the water has been boiled or is left to stand in a glass. This type of taste is not harmful at the levels usually seen in tap water but can be very unpleasant. The best short term solution is to use a water filter.

Earthy, musty tastes

These types of tastes and smells are harmless and can develop when water is left standing in pipes for long periods. Running your taps for a few minutes should remove any stale water. Occasionally harmless earthy tastes can develop in our source water – particularly in the summer months.

Metallic tastes & odours

A metallic or bitter taste or smell to tap water is normally associated with increased concentrations of metals commonly found in domestic plumbing systems, such as copper or zinc.

Water left standing in metal pipework for long periods can pick up traces of metals, giving rise to unusual tastes or smells often described as metallic or bitter – particularly in water from the hot water system. This can be a problem in large buildings or in buildings with long lengths of pipe.

Running the cold water tap can help to reduce this problem, as can lagging the cold water pipework to prevent it being warmed by hot water pipes. The water you run off does not have to be wasted and can be used for purposes other than for drinking – such as watering plants.