Why does my water smell like chlorine?

We’re required to add very small and safe amounts of chlorine to your water to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. This may mean that you encounter chlorine-type tastes and odors from time to time. We carefully monitor the levels that we add to make sure your water is always safe to drink and use. Heating water or increases in outside temperature can make the chlorine odor more noticeable, so you may notice the odor more when you run a bath or take a shower. Even though the odor may be stronger when water is warmed up, it’s still perfectly safe to use.

Some customers are more sensitive to the smell of chlorine than others. However, the odor or taste of chlorinated water should never be overwhelming.

There are 2 common causes for a chlorinous, bleachy, chemical, or medicinal odor or taste in the water: the chlorine that we add to the water or the interaction of that chlorine with a build-up of organic material in your plumbing system. It is helpful to identify the source in finding a solution.

Here are 2 characteristics of a public water supply related odor:

  • The odor occurs at all the water fixtures on the property
  • The odor persists no matter how long the water is run

Here are 2 characteristics of a plumbing related odor:

  • The odor occurs in only one or several, but not all, of the water fixtures on the property
  • The odor is not noticeable after running the water for a few minutes

If you are not certain of the source, check the water supply to the property. To check the water supply, take a clean glass and go to the water faucet (hose bib) at the front of the property closest to the water meter at the street (typically the water meter is in front of the home). Turn the water on wide-open and run it for a full 2 minutes. Check the time; 2 minutes is a long time. After 2 minutes, disconnect the water hose if there is one attached and sample the water. 

If the odor seems overpowering or bleachy after running this test, contact us at (541) 726-2396. If the water is much better at the front faucet than at the fixtures on the property, flushing your plumbing is recommended.

Improving water quality is as simple as flushing your water pipes to remove the accumulation of organic material. This procedure is outlined in the following steps.

  1. Remove the screens (called aerators) from the ends of the indoor faucets and run all of the faucets wide-open and simultaneously for 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Flush the toilets 2 or 3 times each while the faucets are running. Running all the water faucets and toilets simultaneously generates a large flow of water through the pipes and will generally dislodge any build-up of organic material that is causing the taste and odor problem. Removing the aerators before flushing the plumbing will prevent anything dislodged by flushing from accumulating on the screens.
  3. After 3 to 5 minutes of flushing, turn off the water faucets, clean the aerators, and reinstall the aerators on the ends of the faucets.