31 January 2022

Why Does My Tank Water Taste Strange? Causes and Solutions

Have you noticed that the rainwater from your tank has started to taste weird? Does it leave a strange aftertaste? Are you’re wondering if it’s still safe to be drinking?

Water Tanks

Blog Tile Jan water taste bad

Before we go any further, we want to assure you that you’re not the only one who’s had this issue. And that there are several reasons that your water might be tasting bad, and a few easy fixes.

Rainwater Does Taste Different

If you’ve always been a tap-water-drinker, you’ll notice the difference: rainwater does taste different. But why? Isn’t water just water?!

Firstly, rainwater hasn’t picked up any salt or minerals from the ground, so it’s ‘soft’. And secondly, it hasn’t been treated by chemicals.

Tap water has to be treated with chlorine to kill any nasties before it’s pumped into our homes. Fluoride is added to increase its health properties and prevent dental decay. And aluminium salts are often added as well, to remove organic matter and other rubbish. As the water flows into our catchment dams or down through the ground, it collects a certain amount of dissolved minerals and salts.

Naturally, we tend to think that water straight from the sky into the tank should have no taste at all. But unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. As we mentioned before, tank water can sometimes have an aftertaste that isn’t nice at all.

So, let’s zoom in and have a closer look at some of the things that might cause strange-tasting tank water:

9 Common Causes of Tastes in Tank Water

  1. A Dirty Roof

Your rainwater is harvested from your roof, so if the roof is dirty, that’s definitely going to cause some issues.

Dust, bird poo, dirt, possum poo, lichen, algae… any of these things could be up there on the roof, and making your rainwater taste horrible.

Keeping your roof clean isn’t hard. Scrub down the surface of the roof using a stiff brush and a hose (if you’ve got a pressure blaster handy, this will take the hard work out of the job)!

Remember to disconnect the plumbing before you clean your roof - you don’t want all the mess washing straight down into your tank!

  1. Full Gutters

Are you gutters full of leaf litter? Or are they holding a not-so-lovely layer of dirt and silt in the bottom?

If your gutters are clogged, the rainwater will inevitably pick up a certain amount of organic matter and dirt as it makes its way into the tank. And that muck won’t taste good.

Clean out your gutters regularly. Wash out any silt using a garden hose. And again, disconnect the pipework before you start, because you don’t want to flush any more mess into your tank.

  1. Clogged Leaf Strainer

Is your leaf strainer clogged? Of course, filtering out the rubbish is your strainer’s job, but if you don’t remove your strainer regularly and give it a good scrub, it’ll quickly get blocked with dirt, leaves and whatever else washes down the pipes.

  1. Woodfire Smoke

It’s not uncommon for rainwater to taste a bit ‘smoky’, especially during the winter months. If there’s smoke in the air when it’s raining, it can contaminate the taste of the water, however, this is generally no cause for concern.

If the taste really bothers you, try putting your tank water through a domestic water filter jug. An extra level of filtration might be all that’s needed to remove this bothersome aftertaste.

  1. Dead Animals

Why is it that birds, insects and sometimes even possums choose our roof as their final resting place?! If there is a dead animal on your roof, you’ll definitely have foul-tasting water.

It’s highly possible that you’ll smell a dead animal before you taste it in the water, but nevertheless, we recommend that you drain your tank and thoroughly clean it (and your roof) to remove any possible contamination. Yes, the water might still be safe to drink, but in some cases, decomposing animals can cause the level of E.coli bacteria in the water to rise to dangerous levels.

Sometimes it’s just better to be safe than sorry.

  1. Roof Refurb

You should leave a new roof or a newly painted roof for at least one rainfall before you connect your water tank - chemicals or residue from new steel or a fresh paint job could make the water taste weird.

  1. New Tank

If your tank is new, the water might taste funny for the first little while, and that’s to be expected. Hey, it’s just like using a new drink bottle - it takes a few good washes to get rid of that ‘new plastic’ taste!

You might choose to flush the first few rainfalls through the tank before you let it fill properly.

  1. New Filters

If you’ve just replaced the filters in your purification system, this might also make your rainwater taste a bit strange. In this situation, it’s generally just a case of waiting for the new filters to ‘settle’ and the taste should return to normal.

  1. PVC Pipes

If your water stays in contact with your PVC piping for long periods, this could also cause a slight taste. Ensure that your plumbing is fitted correctly so that the water drains into and out of your tank properly.

Can Algae Grow in my Rainwater Tank?

Yes, and there are instances when this can be dangerous. Algae in your water can cause harm to you, your pets, and your garden.

Algae is a living thing, and it needs a certain amount of light and warmth to grow well. If algae is growing inside your rainwater tanks, the water will smell foul, taste weird and possibly look a bit green or blue.

Some types of algae produce very harmful poisons and can cause serious health issues if consumed. And it’s not even worth using the water on your garden - it’s likely to do more harm to your plants than good!

If your tank has algae in it, drain and clean it thoroughly before letting it fill again.

All Orion rainwater tanks are manufactured to Australian standards, with a minimum wall thickness of 4mm which means that light doesn’t penetrate the wall of the tank. And the beauty of this is that you can choose the colour you want and know that your rainwater supply is perfectly secure.

How can I test my Rainwater for Drinking?

If you are concerned about the quality of your tank water, you can easily check it at home using a water testing kit - there’s nothing like that peace of mind that comes with knowing that everything is ok!

What can I do to Prevent my Water from Tasting Bad?

As the old cliché goes, ‘prevention is better than cure’, and a simple, regular schedule for tank maintenance will go a long way towards ensuring that your tank water tastes great all year round.

Your maintenance schedule should include:

  • Cleaning the roof surface
  • Removing leaf litter and other rubbish from your gutters and leaf strainers
  • Checking plumbing and taps regularly
  • Cleaning and/or replacing filters in your purification system when needed
  • Testing the quality of your water using a home test kit
  • Periodically emptying and cleaning out the tank (every 2 - 3 years)

If you are undertaking a roof renovation or a sizeable landscaping project, consider disconnecting your tank and covering up the inlets to prevent excess dust and dirt from entering your tank. Hose down the roof and ensure the catchment area is clean before you connect it again.

Want more information about tank installation and maintenance? Check out our guide here or call one of our team on 1800 752 784.