Why Does My Tap Water Smell Like Chlorine?

Why Does My Tap Water Smell Like Chlorine?

Testing tap water that smells like chlorine

There’s nothing worse than drinking strange tasting water on a hot summer’s day!

One explanation for the funky taste could be that chlorine made its way into the water supply! Here’s the thing: small levels of chlorine are okay.

“My tap water smells like chlorine. What do I do?” We’ve had countless alarmed customers come to us with that question.

And we can’t blame them for being worried. After all, clean water shouldn’t smell like anything. So, what’s going on?

The good news is there are ways to get rid of that chlorine smell and protect your health!

Keep reading to learn:

  • Why your tap water smells like chlorine
  • The potential health risks
  • And how to get rid of that pool smell and taste

What Causes Water to Smell Like Chlorine?

Your nose isn’t playing tricks on you. There’s a good chance that the chlorine smell in your water is chlorine. And it probably got in your water because your local water treatment plant put it there.

Wait, so the people in charge of keeping our tap water safe are also making it smelly? Yes, and for a good reason. However, chlorine levels should never exceed a certain amount. Unfortunately, we’ll see that they often do.

Let’s take a closer look at how chlorine gets in your water!

City Water is Typically Treated with Chlorine

Municipal water treatment plants use chlorine to treat drinking water because it effectively kills the bacteria that cause many waterborne illnesses. Before we started using chlorine to treat our water, deaths from contracting diseases like cholera and typhoid from drinking water were extremely high. But chlorine has helped to curb those illnesses significantly.

Water Often Exceeds Recommended Chlorine Levels

Therefore, the presence of the chlorine smell in your water isn’t bad a thing necessarily. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires chlorination but limits the amount allowed in drinking water to 4 mg/L. However, all it takes is 1 mg/L of chlorine for you to start noticing that smell in your glass. And, as we’ll see, ingesting too much tap water that tastes like chlorine over time can lead to significant health problems.

Chloramine is Also a Problem

Chloramine is another common disinfectant that can give off that bleach smell. Water treatment facilities often use chloramine as a secondary disinfectant to help the water treatment last longer. By using chloramine, municipalities can ensure all stages of the water distribution system are clean. However, too much chloramine exposure can lead to bad taste and odor, nitrification and itchy skin and eyes.

The Potential Health Risks

Because they are such common disinfectants, some chlorine and chloramine are usually present in drinking water. And it is generally safe to consume the disinfectants in small doses. So, is it safe to drink tap water that smells like that smells like bleach or chlorine? Not necessarily.

When your water starts smelling like a pool, it’s a warning sign that your water could be overchlorinated. And anything over the EPA recommended limit of 4 mg/L and even slightly under it could lead to serious health problems. Such health issues include bladder, rectal and breast cancer. Overconsumption of chloramine can also cause digestive problems, respiratory issues and mouth ulcers. So, beware of a chlorine smell in your water.

Chlorine and chloramine can also create harmful byproducts during the disinfection process. These byproducts include trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs). Consuming THMs can lead to cancer and congenital disabilities, and HAAs can cause cancer, liver and kidney problems.

On top of this, the disinfectants can also dry out your skin and hair after bathing and corrode household plumbing fixtures over time. This corrosion can lead to excessive stains on clothing and dishware—meaning, you might have to wash your dishes again or rewash a load of laundry.

Graphic illustrating the harmful effects of chlorine in water.

How To Get Rid of that Pool Smell and Taste

There are a few different ways to deal with tap water that smells like chlorine. The method you should choose will depend on the severity of the problem.

Get Your Water Tested

We recommend getting your water tested to determine how much chlorine is in your water. Hopefully, the test results will reveal that the amount of chlorine in your water is below the EPA recommended limit of 4 mg/L. If your water exceeds that limit, you should report the results to your local water utility right away so that they can address the problem. But don’t wait around for the government to fix the problem on their end. After all, you can take steps to eliminate the harmful contaminants from your water.

Get a Carbon-Activated or Reverse Osmosis Water Filter

The best way to get rid of water tasting like chlorine, the existence of chloramine, or the presence of TTHMs and HAAs is by investing in a dependable water filter for your home. A carbon-activated filtration system or reverse osmosis system should do the trick.

Reverse osmosis systems remove chlorine and sediment from the water with a prefilter and pushes it through a semipermeable membrane. After it leaves the membrane, a postfilter polishes the drinking water before it enters a faucet. A carbon-activated filter, on the other hand, removes chlorine and turns it into a chlorine ion.

Of course, the water test could also reveal that your water doesn’t contain dangerous amounts of chlorine and chloramine. If this is the case, you don’t necessarily have to invest in a water filtration system to eliminate the chlorine smell and taste.

Try Alternative Home Remedies

Alternative home remedies exist to remove the stench without getting rid of the disinfectants. For example, you could chill the water in a covered pitcher for a few hours to give the smell a chance to dissipate naturally. Other potential remedies include boiling the water or adding dichlorination tablets. You can also add a lemon or lime slice to the water to remove the funky smell and taste.

While these alternative methods may save you money, they aren’t guaranteed to eliminate the odor like a water filtration system will. Why? DIY methods aren’t comparable to a full filtration system and might not remove all contaminants. Because of this, we feel a water filter is the best solution for long-term success and convenience.

Need More Assistance?

We began this page with a question: “Why does my tap water smell like chlorine?” The answer is that chlorine in tap water comes from the disinfection process. However, too much chlorine in water can be harmful, making water filtration the best solution to protect your home and health.

If you need help with the chlorine smell in your water, our licensed experts can assist you. At Angel Water, we offer water testing and a full range of water filtration systems for residential and commercial use. Please call us today at (847) 382-7800 or fill out the form below to talk to an expert. We have locations in Barrington, IL, and St. Charles, IL, and provide services throughout the Chicago region.

Please call us today at (847) 382-7800

or fill out the form below to talk with an expert or schedule a free consultation!

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