What Is The Difference Between Bathroom And Kitchen Water (UK)?


In most modern homes in the UK, water in the kitchen and bathroom comes from the same supply pipes, so is bathroom water the same as kitchen water?

Not always! Depending on the water system, there might be significant differences in the water quality in each area.

Understanding the differences between bathroom and kitchen water helps you identify the type of system you have in your home. The more you know, the easier it is to look out for contaminants and other issues that could affect your health.

Find out more information below. You can take a look further into our plumbing-related articles, such as our complete guide to water pressure.

Kitchen Tap Water Vs Bathroom Tap Water

Although modern homes in the UK have a direct water system, most homes are fitted with indirect water systems.

An indirect water system uses an external stopcock valve to supply mains water to the home. Often, this valve is located underneath the kitchen sink. Excess water is sent to a cistern and stored for use at the bathroom tap and other tap water.

Kitchen tap water supply

The tap water supply enters the kitchen with an indirect system from the stopcock valve located outside or underneath the sink. The kitchen sink comes directly from the mains, but bathroom water is stored.

In a direct system, fresh mains standard water is sent directly to every tap in the home. Although natural systems are more expensive to install, they are overall safer.

Piping system

The primary piping system comprises a mains water supply, a stopcock, and a drain in an indirect water supply system. Water comes into the kitchen through the adjustable stopcock valve; it is used in the kitchen sink before being sent to the cistern and stored for bathroom taps and drink water.

Depending on your system, wastewater is sent to a cistern, a greywater tank, or a sewer.

Bathroom tap water supply

In an indirect water system, the water in your bathroom tap comes from a cold water storage tank in the loft. This tank is supplied by the mains water supply but is stored for later use, unlike a direct water system. For drinking or cooking, the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) advises against using bathroom tap water that comes from storage tanks, as it is not as safe or fresh. Instead, it is best to use water that comes directly from the mains.

While this water is acceptable to use and generally safe to drink, it can lead to some issues such as bacteria build-up. Other contaminants can sometimes also be found in this tank.

Again, the piping system for your bathroom tap depends on the type of water system you have in general, so direct or indirect.

You'll have a cold water storage tank that supplies the bathroom taps and a single-stack drainage system with an indirect approach. You will also have copper or plastic pipes from the boiler tank for the shower and bathroom tap if you have a standard boiler.

How To Find Out If The Bathroom Water Is The Same As The Kitchen Water

Is kitchen water and bathroom water the same? There are several ways to test and find out whether or not there's a difference between bathroom and kitchen water supplies in your home. Some of them are detailed below:

Turn the Mains Off

If you have a direct water system, turning the mains water off will tell you quickly whether you have a direct or indirect water supply. If you have an indirect water supply turning the mains off won't stop water in your taps. Additionally, you'll be able to find a storage tank in your loft.

Indirect supplies mean your bathroom's water is slightly different from kitchen water.

Get a Home Water Testing Kit


A home water testing kit allows you to test the drink tap water and bathroom water in your home. This test helps you quickly determine the water quality in different house areas, what type of water system you have, and any contaminants in the system.

A home water test kit is cheap to buy and easy to use. Just sample your water and use a test strip.

Contact Professional Service Providers

If you have doubts about your water quality or want to understand the water system in your property better, then contact professional service providers.

Professional service providers will assess the bathroom water quality and the drink water quality. They will also give you a detailed overview of the type of water system you have and future recommendations.

You can find your water company via the Consumer Council for Water (CCW) website.

Is It Safe To Drink Bathroom Tap Water?


Is kitchen and bathroom water the same when it comes to drinking? Yes and no! The safety of bathroom water for drinking depends on the quality of your water pipes and the location of your storage tank.

If you want to drink water from your bathroom sink, it's good to have your water system assessed. Lead pipes can lead to poor health from drinking bathroom water, and legionella bacteria can build up in the tank if it is not checked, maintained and cleaned appropriately.

How To Know When Water Is Not Safe For Drinking

Still unsure whether or not you can drink the water from your bathroom tap? Here are a few pointers to help you know for sure:

Water appears murky

Murky water

There are definite signs to look for when determining whether or not your water is safe to drink. One of these signs is cloudy water or murky water. If the water is dirty, it might simply be some trapped air bubbles that will disappear in a minute, but it could also be chemicals or pathogens.

If the water is murky or brown, that's a sign of an issue with the pipes. If your water is piped from outside using a direct water system, there is a pipe problem. That said, murky water can also get into the tank, causing discolouration in the bathroom sink.

There are particles in the water

The majority of water in the bathroom sink originates in wells, water tables, and reservoirs in the ground. For that reason, you can expect there to be particles and sediment in the drinking water and the cold water tank. However, water treatment facilities should remove it.

If you find sediment or particles in your bathroom sink, kitchen tap, or another cold water tap, it's generally an indication that essential works have been carried out. However, it can also suggest that an underground supply pipe is in poor condition. In the event of discoloured water or particles in your water, contact your water company immediately.

The water has a bad smell

If there is a smell coming from the water in your kitchen tap or any other cold water tap in your home, it's not something you can ignore. Smells in your household water may indicate traces of substances in your water system. They may be medicinal, metallic, rubbery, woody, earthy or even rotten. In the event of a sudden change in taste, especially a strong or unpalatable taste, contact your water company.

There is green algae growing on the surface of the water

Green algae in your drinking water is not a good sign. As with many other contaminants, the presence of green algae can make you unwell. It can cause a range of symptoms in humans including skin rashes, vomiting, diarrhoea, and joint pain. The algae can come from the system or the water tank.

If you see some green algae coming from your kitchen tap, don't drink it; instead, contact the water board and report the issue. This is a clear sign of a problem in their system since algae should be eradicated during water treatment. It might, however, come from the tank in indirect methods.


How do you tell if there is bacteria in your water?


Most of the time, there is no way to tell if there are harmful bacteria in your water; bacteria are invisible, odourless, and colourless. There are some indications that you might have harmful bacteria in your system.

These include cloudy water, water with a strange tint, an unusual taste, or a sulphur smell like that of rotten eggs. If you notice any of the above signs, don't drink the water and contact a plumber or your supplier for advice.

Is toilet water the same as sink water?

It depends on the type of water system you have in your home. If you have a grey water tank, this will be used for the toilet but not water from the bathroom tap or drinking water.

Alternatively, you might have a central storage tank in your loft that supplies the toilet water but not the other water. Primarily, water for the toilet and additional water comes from the same source.

Does boiling well water make it safe to drink?

Boiling water

Yes! Boiling water is the best way to kill harmful bacteria in water. Examples of harmful bacteria in water include E. coli, hepatitis A, salmonella, legionella norovirus.

To ensure all the bacteria is gone, boil the water well until it is bubbling, then maintain this boil for one minute. Once cooled, it becomes safe to drink the water.

When was the use of lead pipes banned in the UK?

It was discovered that lead pipes could contaminate water supplies and cause health issues for people who drink tap water. Lead poisoning can damage the brain, kidneys and nervous system.

In Britain, building regulations changed in 1969, and it became illegal to install lead water service pipes in any new homes.

Final Thoughts

Even if the water in your kitchen and bathroom is crystal clear, it's still worth understanding a little more about how your system works. When the water is crystal clear, it's easy to take it for granted, but problems can occur, either outside or in the home's pipes and tank.

If you uncover any problems with your water supply or your water changes colour or smell, it's best to contact a professional or your water company. A professional can solve the issue for you even if it requires collaboration with the local water board and treatment facilities.

Plumbnation is here to help minimise any issues surrounding buying kitchen taps, buying shower baths, or bathroom taps.

Please check out similar guides to this, such as, how to change your bathroom taps, and how to turn off your water supply.