What You Need to Know About Cloudy Tap Water
Why is your tap water cloudy? If the usually pristine stream from your kitchen sink suddenly seems gray and gritty, take a look at what you need to know about this potential plumbing problem.
What Does Cloudy Water Look Like?
Before you dive deep into the ins and outs of cloudy tap water, you need to separate this issue from other possible problems. Cloudy tap water:
- Isn’t clear. Unlike the water you can typically see through, homes with this issue have water that isn’t see-through or clear.
- Can look milky. Does your tap water look like someone poured milk or cream into it? A whitish (sometimes gray-like) color is a common sign of cloudy tap water.
- Has tiny bubbles. Along with the milky appearance, you may notice tiny bubbles.
- Doesn’t contain sediment. Does your tap water have debris or other sediment in it? Sediment in tap water is a different plumbing problem. Sediment can come from construction in your neighborhood, iron in the pipes, or corrosion.
- Isn’t yellow or brown. Again, cloudy water is a milky white. Water that’s yellow or brown could contain excess iron or manganese. It’s also possible the problem comes from your water heater or corrosion in the pipes.
- Isn’t blue or green. Blue or green water often indicates a problem with copper pipes. If your home’s plumbing system uses copper, it’s possible the pipes are deteriorating.
If you’re not sure whether your water is cloudy or there’s another (potentially serious) issue, contact a licensed plumber. The plumber can evaluate the color of your water and make repairs when necessary.
What Causes Cloudy Tap Water?
Have you ruled out other types of tap water issues? If your water is definitely cloudy (and not sediment-filled, brown, yellow, or blue/green), it’s time to understand the problem. The kitchen sink’s water may run cloudy if:
- There’s too much air. Excess air that enters your pipes can cause tiny bubbles to form. These bubbles give the usually-clear tap water a cloudy or milky look.
- There’s too much pressure. In some cases, excess plumbing pressure can cause cloudiness or bubbles to form.
- There’s a temperature drop. Cold water will typically hold more air, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). This can cause excessive bubbling and make your water cloudy.
Even though your home’s cloudy water may only have one of these possible causes, the culprit could also include multiple issues at the same time. If you have concerns about drinking or using cloudy tap water, read on for more information on health and safety.
Is Cloudy Tap Water Unsafe to Drink?
While it might seem like your cloudy drinking water is unhealthy for consumption, this isn’t always true. When it comes to cloudy tap water and safety:
- Most cloudy water settles quickly. Even though the water is initially cloudy, after the bubbles pass, it’s likely your water will run clear. Turn on the tap for a few minutes before you assume your water is unfit for consumption.
- Most cloudy water is safe to drink. If your tap water is safe and healthy to drink, the addition of bubbles isn’t a major problem. Keep in mind, bubbles caused by pressure in the pipes or temperature are different than a corrosion, debris, or microorganism-related problem.
- Some cloudy tap water may have another issue. If the tap water doesn’t run clear after a few minutes, contains sediment, has an odd color, has an odd odor, or you have any concerns, don’t drink it.
What should you do if you’re not sold on flushing the tap or waiting for the bubbles to disappear? Call a professional to evaluate your water before you use or drink it. A plumber can inspect your home’s plumbing, explore other issues, and make sure the water is safe for use.
Do you have cloudy water? Contact Two Men and a Snake for more information.