Sewage tastes and smells

Smelling or tasting sewage in your water is concerning, but it’s most likely to be the smell of a blocked drain, rather than anything more worrying.

If you've noticed a smell or taste of sewage in your water supply there's a quick test you can do to work out where it’s coming from.

  1. Fill a glass with water from the tap where you've noticed the smell or taste of sewage.
  2. Take that glass of water into another room in your home.
  3. Smell or taste the water again to check if the smell or taste clears.

If it does clear, this would suggest that the smell is coming from a sink or drain, rather than the water itself.

In that case you can use household drain cleaning products to clear or unblock the drain, which should solve the problem.

If the smell or taste is still present, you should contact us immediately by calling 0800 783 4444.

If a smell is inside the property this could indicate a potential problem with the private internal waste pipes.

Examples of the potential causes could be:

  • Incorrectly installed domestic appliances like washing machines and dishwashers.
  • Infrequently used washing machines and dishwashers.
  • A problem with the traps on sinks, wash basins, baths and shower trays.
  • Incorrectly installed or faulty internal soil vent pipes.
  • An inspection chamber inside a conservatory or extension on a private drain.

Usual domestic products can be used to get rid of the smell, as advised by the manufacturer of your appliance. If the smell does not subside please contact a plumber they will be able to inspect your appliances to establish the root cause of the smell.  

There are two main sewer types – private and public. You’re responsible for private sewers and we cover the public ones. There are also highway drains and gullies that are the local authority’s responsibility. 

It’s important to understand who’s responsible for maintaining and repairing sewer pipes and drains especially if something goes wrong.

Why your water may taste or smell unusual and what you can do: