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Troubleshooting Poor Tasting Well Water

Does your well water have an unpleasant taste or smell?

Noticing a strange odor or taste coming from the tap is unsettling – and it could indicate something serious! In fact, some well water contaminants can have dire impacts on your health.

Use this water well troubleshooting guide to get to the bottom of things, and diagnose the problem. Then, you’ll know if it’s something you can take on – or if it’s time to get professional help.

You’ll want to keep reading, but first, head to the tap.  

Give Your Water a Sniff

When it comes to troubleshooting well water, you should always start by using your sense of smell. 

Pour a glass of water from any one of your home’s faucets. Then, hold it under your nose and give it a gentle sniff, like you would with a glass of wine or spirits. What do you smell?

Rotten Eggs

This is one of the most common odors associated with well water, typically due to high levels of sulfur bacteria known as hydrogen sulfide – naturally occurring in groundwater. 

If your well water smells like sulphur or rotten eggs, you’ll need to have it tested. A level under 0.5 parts per million (ppm) is considered safe for consumption, despite the unpleasant taste and smell. However, high levels of this bacteria can have adverse health effects – so it’s better to be on the safe side!

This one is a case for the professionals! If your well water is within the safe range, a filtration system can help with its flavor and odor. 

Earthy or Musty

A woody, musty, or earthy taste and smell might indicate sediment in your groundwater or the pipes that brought it to you. Other signs that this could be the case include a gritty texture or residue in the bottom of your glass.

This problem could also be caused by algae, giving the water a soil-like texture and even a dirt-like taste. 

Luckily, removing the well’s aerator and removing any sediment or bacterial residue will likely resolve the issue without professional help.

Bacteria or Sewage

Well water that smells like sewage may not be what you think.

Sometimes, high concentrations of bacteria can gather in your sink’s drain or somewhere else in the system, like your water heater. The flow of oxygen and water from turning on your faucet then agitates these bacterial colonies releasing their odor.

Check for subtle signs, like a bad smell that only appears when you use the hot water. Or, tap water that smells funny at the tap, yet normal from a glass. 

If you determine that the smell is coming from your tap, not the drain, you should have your water tested to be sure it’s safe to consume.

Now, Go for the Taste Test

Poor tasting well water that doesn’t give off an odor is uncommon, but not unheard of. 

A metallic taste could indicate trace metals in your water supply. While some minerals like copper, zinc, and manganese are relatively harmless, others like lead can carry serious health concerns. A water quality test is the only way to know for sure when it comes to metallic flavors from the tap. 

Water Well Troubleshooting Made Easy

If you followed our water well troubleshooting guide, you’ve probably got a good idea of what’s going on with your drinking water.

If you can’t resolve the issue on your own, it’s time to get professional help. Contact us today with all your questions about our products and services, or for a free quote. Our team of local Arizona water well experts is standing by, and happy to help!  


Is it time to have your well water tested professionally? Empire Pump is a top, trusted Arizona water well pump contractor t. Call 623-582-5069 now to schedule an appointment or to have your questions answered!

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