Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated September 14, 2020)
Arthur wrote to ask about a problem he is having with his water. It seems that the water in the bathroom faucet—primarily from the hot water tap—has a foul odor to it.
This could be due to a number of different reasons. First (and most likely), it is possible that some sort of contaminant has entered your household plumbing. The probably location of the contamination is in the hot water heater that services your bathroom. This is particularly true if the odor is only in the bathroom's hot water and that tap is serviced by its own water heater.
In such a case, you'll want to drain and flush your hot water heater. There are other tips on the website that explain this in detail. In fact, you may want to drain it a couple of times to make sure you wash anything lingering in the sediment out of the hot water tank. (If you determine that your hot water tank has lots of sediment in it, you'll be best served by replacing the hot water heater entirely.)
The problem could also be caused by some sort of contamination in the pipes leading to your hot water tap. If you have a whole-house hot water heater—meaning that your water heater provides hot water to more than just your bathroom—and the odor isn't noticeable from other taps, then this may be the problem. The only thing you can do in this instance is to replace the plumbing that runs to your bathroom tap.
Another possibility is that there is a problem with your city's water supply or, if you draw water from a private well, the water coming from the source. You can determine if it is a problem with the water supply by checking with others who use the same supply. For instance, if you and your neighbors are on the same water supply, then they should have noticed the odor as well. If they do, then take your complaint up with whoever is your water provider.
It is very possible that your local water company can help you pinpoint the problem. Give them a call and ask if they can test your water. Odors are typically a symptom of some sort of chemical or biological issue that can often be detected through the proper type of testing. If your water company has the correct testing gear, they can get a sample of your tap water and let you know what is causing the problem.
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