Cloudy & Discolored Water
Cloudy and discolored tap water are common problems, but it doesn’t always mean something is wrong. Here is why your water might be opaque or discolored and what you can do about it.
Why Is My Water Cloudy and Discolored?
Whether your water is simply opaque or you’re seeing brown, yellow, or otherwise dark water from your tap, here’s what might be causing it.
Reasons For Cloudy Water
If your water is cloudy or opaque, but clears up after a few minutes, tiny bubbles in the water are the culprit. This is not cause for concern, it simply means that there is air in your municipality or community well’s water supply. Air bubbles are also more likely to show up in the winter because cold water holds more air than warm water. Either way, this air will show up as bubbles in your cup.
Reasons For Discolored Water
It can be jarring to turn on your tap to see yellow, brown, or orange water, and there could be a few reasons for it.
One of the most common reasons for discolored water is older, possibly corroded pipes. Homes built before the 1960’s may contain galvanized plumbing, which could likely be the culprit. Homes built after the early 1970’s will contain copper or plastic pipe that has mineral buildup from hardness, iron, and/or manganese. These minerals will turn into sediment and release over time, showing up in your water supply as yellow, brown, or black discolored water. This discoloration can also be the result of dirt, pollution, or other organic materials in the water supply.
If you have a private well, this may also lead to discolored water due to the presence of iron oxide or rust in the water. This is a very common occurrence across the US. In most cases, the discolored well water is not harmful from a health perspective, but can cause staining, ruined laundry, and an unpleasant iron taste.
Discolored water can also be the result of mineral buildup and dirt, pollution, or other organic materials in the water.
Is Cloudy & Discolored Water Safe to Use?
Cloudy water that is a result of air bubbles in the water is perfectly safe to drink, bathe or shower in, cook with, and wash your clothes in.
Water that is brown, yellow, or otherwise discolored due to minerals is likely safe to drink and shower with, although not wanting to drink it is understandable. If the water does not leave stains on your clothes, it is safe to continue using. If your water is discolored due to pollution or dirt, it is not safe to drink and should not be used to bathe in or wash your clothes in.
How Do You Fix Cloudy Tap Water?
Although it is harmless, cloudy or opaque water should not be an ongoing issue. If it is coming from all of your faucets, the issue is likely at the municipal or community well level. There may be maintenance or repairs causing the air bubbles. If it continues, you can call your water provider to see if there is maintenance being performed and when it will be complete.
If you only see cloudy water coming from select faucets, your aerator may need to be cleaned. Simply remove it, clean it with a solution of equal parts vinegar and water, and replace it.
For discolored water, most cases are solved with a high quality filtration system, especially for discoloration and sediment loading that comes from outside the home’s plumbing system.