New Advice Film Launched on Taste and Smell of Tap Water

A new film about the taste and smell of drinking water has been launched by experts in the water industry.

The film has been produced by WaterSafe, the national register for approved plumbers in the UK, and features advice from a water company quality expert and the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) for England and Wales.

It offers an insight into different tastes and smells in tap water, the causes behind them and simple steps to help prevent them. It features chlorine, metallic or antiseptic-tasting water, a musty or sewage smell and bitter water.

The film follows the release of the annual report of the DWI, which shows that while tap water quality in England remains among the best in the world, a small number fail taste and smell tests.

In its annual report, the inspectorate confirmed that 99.96 per cent of samples passed stringent water quality tests in 2017. However, of the 630 samples which failed at household taps, about a quarter were due to taste and smell.

In England the most common complaint was chlorine, followed by an earthy or musty smell or taste.

While the number of failures is reducing, a significant proportion can be linked to poor plumbing in the home, wrongly connected pipework, poor materials and fittings, inadequate protection from water ‘flowing back’ into internal pipework from dishwashers and toilet cisterns and poor tap hygiene.

The WaterSafe approval register, which is backed by the DWI and all the UK water companies, wants to help homeowners tackle these problems with its new information film.

Julie Spinks, Director of WaterSafe, said: “Households in England enjoy fresh, healthy tap water which is among the best in the world and we want to make sure it tastes and smells fresh and healthy too.

“Many people don’t realise there are many things which can affect the taste and smell of water so we’re highlighting a few of the most common complaints, with advice on how to find out what’s causing them and simple steps to put them right.

“This could be as simple as changing a washer on a tap, to wiping around taps regularly with disinfectant, to installing check valves on hoses connecting dishwashers and washing machines.”

Marcus Rink, The Chief Inspector of Drinking Water for England and Wales, added: “While the number of complaints about taste and odour is small, customers expect their water to be clear and bright and not to smell or have a strong taste, so they feel confident it’s safe to drink.

“We suggest watching this useful information film from WaterSafe and if you still notice an abnormal taste or odour, then don’t hesitate to contact your local water company for more advice. I’d also urge households not to take any chances and always be sure to employ a qualified plumber.”

Plumbers approved on the national WaterSafe register all have specific training in the Water Fittings (Supply) Regulations designed to maintain the high quality of water and avoid the risk of contamination.

To find your nearest WaterSafe approved plumber, enter your postcode in our  postcode search or to read more advice visit

Regional Information:

Northern Ireland - Taste and Smell Film

Scotland - Taste and Smell Film

Wales - Taste and Smell Film

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