We work to deliver exceptional quality water every day. Occasionally customers report their tap water has an unusual taste, smell or is discoloured. The information below explains what could be causing this and what can be done about it.
There could be several reasons why you’re experiencing discoloured water. Here's a list of the most common reasons.
Sometimes air can get into the water supply following a repair on our water pipe network, or repairs to the pipework inside your home.
Water with air inside has a cloudy or milky white appearance. This is caused by thousands of tiny air bubbles that make the water look white.
If your water has a powdery white appearance, this could also be caused by natural undissolved chalk. The water we supply is generally described as hard and has a higher concentration of natural minerals than soft water.
Although the appearance of the water may be unappealing, there's no health risk. Any white water in the mains network should clear within two to three hours. After this, run your tap for two to three minutes to check that the problem has cleared.
If you have a domestic water softener fitted it can release chalky white pieces of scale over time. It is advisable that any domestic softeners are fitted separately to the drinking water tap and are maintained according to the manufacturer's instructions.
If you find your cold water looks slightly brown or orange, this could be due to a build up of iron deposits. These deposits can be disturbed if a water main bursts or maintenance work is carried out. If the issue is only from your tap and not your neighbours, it's likely to be from internal plumbing. If your neighbour is also affected it's likely to be the water main.
If the problem lies with your internal plumbing, you'll need to contact a plumber.
If it’s affecting you and your neighbours, please contact us.
Black water or particles are likely to be caused by naturally occurring manganese, either staining the limescale in your pipework or moving around following a disturbance, such as a burst water main. They can also be caused by carbon filters in your water jug or broken washers in your taps. Black particles aren’t harmful, but they may make the water taste slightly different and could stain clothing or fabric.
If there's been some disturbance to your pipework, your water should return to normal after a few hours. If you’ve waited a few hours, try running the tap for two to three minutes to check the water is running clear.
If you still have a problem, please contact us.
Turquoise, green or blue water is commonly caused by high concentrations of copper. This usually comes from the copper water pipes within your home.
The build-up of limescale in new internal pipework and new properties gradually reduces the quantity of copper entering the water.
If you have an internal water softener fitted, the amount of copper released may be increased as it can corrode the protective scale coating.
If you’re worried about the copper pipes in your home, please contact a plumber.
There could be several reasons why your water smells or tastes different. Here's a list of the most common reasons.
Unavoidable changes at our treatment works or in our water mains may result in a slight taste of chlorine.
Chlorine has been used for many years to disinfect water and make it safe to drink. Disinfection plays an important role in protecting public health by killing harmful bacteria. Chlorine is better than other disinfectants because it’s effective from our treatment works right up to your tap.
The level of chlorine in your drinking water is very carefully controlled and we strive to keep the level constant. Chlorine leaves our treatment works at less than one milligram per litre (one part per million). This is the level recommended by the World Health Organisation. By comparison, water in swimming pools is three times higher and typically contains 3 milligrams per litre of chlorine.
Treating drinking water with chlorine poses no risk to our health and it's perfectly safe to drink.
If you don’t like the taste, you can fill a jug with tap water and refrigerate it overnight. This will allow the chlorine to evaporate. Water kept like this should be consumed within 24 hours.
Domestic water filters or jug filters (both of which can contain activated carbon) can also be used to remove chlorine from tap water. These filters should be used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. There is no reason to use either type of filter on health grounds, as tap water containing chlorine is perfectly safe to drink.
An earthy or musty taste is often caused by high numbers of harmless micro-organisms, particularly fungi.
Micro-organisms occur naturally in all water types and their numbers increase during the warm summer months or in warm water, as the increase in temperature creates favourable growing conditions.
Sometimes, fungal growths or slimy residues may occur around taps and other water outlets at home. In some cases, it can be seen hanging from tap spouts. Although this looks quite unappealing, it doesn't pose a health risk.
There are a few things you can do to help prevent an earthy or musty taste in your water:
A TCP taste can be caused by chlorine compounds.
These compounds are often formed by the reaction of chlorine with tap washers, plastic kettles, washing machines, dishwashers, connection hoses, rubber anti-splash attachments and plastic pipework.
There’s no health risk associated with this type of taste, although the taste may not be as nice as you’re used to.
Learn more about why there’s chlorine in your water by looking at the chlorine information higher up the page.
Common bacteria or yeasts can grow in warm, moist conditions and produce pigments. This often occurs in bathrooms, but can also occur on tiles, shower heads, toilet bowls and sink drains.
The presence of a large amount of pink or dark grey film does not indicate a problem with the mains water quality but could suggest a problem with your home plumbing.
Frequently clean any surface that is prone to staining with a chlorine-based product. Keeping surfaces dry following use will also help prevent the problem.
Before treatment, insects are often present in water supplies.
If a water main is damaged, there’s a small risk that insects can enter the drinking water supply. Insects can also crawl into tap spouts or be found in toilet cisterns that aren’t sealed.
Insects in drinking water are unappealing and may pose a small risk to health.
If you find any insects in your mains drinking water, flush the cold kitchen tap for five minutes. If the problem persists, please contact us.