My house smells like a swimming pool!
May 6, 2009 10:11 AM   Subscribe

Why does my whole house smell like a swimming pool?

Less than one year ago I installed a whole house water filter (Pelican PSE 1800) because I really don't like city water.

Last Friday I came home from work and when I opened the door I immediately smelled chlorine! Yuck! Nobody was home all day so faucets weren't running. (I don't own any bleach products, so no one in my house could be responsible. Unless my dog is up to no good while I'm at work.)

I can't pinpoint the source of the smell--I poked around in the crawl and didn't smell anything nor see any leaks.

The water company came and tested the water from my outdoor faucets and checked a testing station that's not too far my house. It all came back normal.

Over the past few days I noticed the smell is especially strong when I run the hot water. I wonder if somehow extra chlorine got into my water supply and is hanging out in my hot water tank? This morning I ran the hot water for 30 minutes until the tank was empty as an experiment for when I get home from work.

But until then I was curious:

Is it even physically possible that the water filter could have saved up all the chlorine it's been removing all year and suddenly released it? Preposterous I know, but it's the only explanation I can come up with.

Clearly trying to avoid calling an expensive plumber....Bring on the hypotheticals!! Thanks mucho!
posted by Zoyashka to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
I assume the water company would have mentioned it, but could they be performing a chlorine flush?
posted by djb at 10:18 AM on May 6, 2009

I doubt your filter would "save" chlorine for you. I would see if anyone in the neighborhood smelled the same thing. djb could be right with the flush
posted by Mastercheddaar at 10:24 AM on May 6, 2009

Do any of your neighbors own a swimming pool? Back when we had one, we would stink up half the street on the first few days we took the pool out of winter dormancy. Our pool water wasn't getting in to the fresh water supply but the scent from all the chemicals we were shoveling into the pool traveled quite a ways.
posted by jamaro at 10:54 AM on May 6, 2009

Could there be some reason the water company recently bumped up the chlorine? Just because they say it's "normal" doesn't mean that it's not more chlorinated than usual. It could be on the high end of normal. I used to live somewhere where I could always taste and smell the chlorine, but some days/weeks it was definitely stronger than others. The amount seemed to vary a lot.
posted by peep at 11:41 AM on May 6, 2009

Well, if all your faucets are turned off all day, and you come home and smell chlorine before you turn any water on, it can't be coming from the water. Chlorine does not leak through solid pipe.

I would be looking at other possibilities, such as a nearby swimming pool, as suggested by jamaro. Is there a laundry nearby? Is your house located on top of an old solid waste disposal site, which could have gases rising from it?
posted by exphysicist345 at 4:13 PM on May 6, 2009

Another reason to check out neighboring pool (or spa) owners: if they don't have a backflow breaker properly fitted and they leave their garden hose hanging in the pool, pool water can travel back up the hose and into the drinking water system.
posted by jamaro at 6:31 PM on May 6, 2009

Response by poster: For anyone who was curious, turns out the exhaust from my hot water heater "fell off" I have no idea how I didn't notice it before today!

The plumber's theory is the steam from the hot water when I took a shower, did the dishes, etc. somehow reacted with the exhaust to make it smell and the closest description I had was "chlorine".

Who knows? After airing out my house all morning and re-hooking up the exhaust so far so good.

The water company tested the water earlier this week when working on my previous chlorine theory and they said everything was perfectly normal.

I've had this house less than a year--dare I even ask what else can go wrong? HA!
posted by Zoyashka at 12:33 PM on May 7, 2009

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