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Taste and odour

Drinking water in the Isle of Man is of a high quality although you may sometimes notice a slight taste or smell. If you do it's probably due to chlorine present in the water which is no cause for alarm. If you notice a particularly bad or strong smell or taste, which prevents you from drinking the water, or you notice a new smell or taste, you should contact us.

Possible causes of unpleasant tastes and smells are below along with solutions:

Chlorine taste or smell

We add chlorine at our water treatment works in very small concentrations to protect your drinking water against bacterial growth. Some consumers who receive a supply shortly after it leaves the water treatment works may notice a stronger smell and taste of chlorine in their drinking water. Those at the end of the supply system are unlikely to be affected as the chlorine is absorbed as it makes its way through the mains system.

You may notice that the taste or smell of chlorine is stronger at different times of the day; don't worry, this is perfectly normal and could be due to:

  • your distance from the treatment works
  • the time the water spends travelling to your house
  • water temperature
  • where your water is sourced from
  • time of day – first thing in the morning and early evening more people are using the water
  • water travelling quickly through the mains, for example, when a main has burst in your area or emergency services have drawn water from a hydrant

Putting an uncovered jug of water in the fridge for a few hours will reduce the taste and smell.

Filters can be purchased to remove chlorine. These vary in price and quality and we recommend you check and clean them regularly. Keep in mind that it is better to have water with chlorine in it, as at least this way you are protected from bacteria and the water is safe to drink.

TCP/chemical taste or smell

Chlorine can react with plastic or rubber in your plumbing, causing disinfectant, TCP and metallic tastes and smells. These materials can be found in kettles, appliance hoses and tap washers. The tastes aren't harmful although, we agree, they don't taste very nice!

Is it just in hot drinks?

If you notice this taste or smell in hot drinks you can try boiling water in a saucepan to see if your kettle is the cause.

No? Try hoses connecting pipework

If it's not the kettle, one of the hoses connecting pipework and appliances could be causing the taste. You can try disconnecting your washing machine and dishwasher hoses overnight, and changing tap washers to an approved type. 

Could it be from the tap?

If you don't think it is a hose or the kettle causing the problem or if you've had new taps fitted recently, it may be one of the tap washers causing the taste. If the water tastes unpleasant at all the taps check the washer on your internal stop tap.

Fuel tastes and smells

Spillages of fuels, oils and solvents can seep through plastic water pipes and contaminate your drinking water, which can be extremely harmful to your health.

There are a few simple steps you can take to protect your drinking water. We recommend that you:

  • check your oil tank for signs of leakage especially older metal ones.
  • take care when using fuels and chemicals around your home and clean up any spillages quickly and dispose of waste correctly.

If you think your water supply may have been affected by a fuel or chemical spill contact us immediately and we can investigate.

Need Help? Contact Us Common water complaints