When you turn on your tap water to get a drink or do the dishes, you obviously expect that the water will look clear and clean. However, this isn’t always the case, and sometimes your water will end up looking cloudy or discolored. In most cases, cloudy tap water isn’t really an issue and is still safe to drink, but the problem can still be disconcerting. In light of this, here is everything you need to know about the reasons why your tap water might be cloudy and what you can do about it.

What to Do If Your Tap Water Is Cloudy

If you notice that your tap water is suddenly cloudy, the first thing you should do is pour a glass of water and let it sit for a few minutes. Doing so will help you determine if your water is cloudy due to air bubbles or something else. If the water quickly clears up and is no longer cloudy after a few seconds or minutes, then the problem is nothing to worry about and the water is definitely safe to drink. If you find the idea of drinking the cloudy, aerated water unappealing, it usually helps to let the tap run for a few seconds before filling your glass.

If the issue is caused by air bubbles, you should notice that the cloudiness will start to rise up from the bottom to the top of the glass before eventually clearing up altogether. You should also see small white air bubbles rising up inside the water.

Most Common Causes of Cloudy Tap Water

Cloudy tap water is most commonly caused by air bubbles getting trapped inside your plumbing. However, the issue could also be a sign that your home has very hard water or that your water has a high concentration of sediment or particulates for some reason. Typically neither of these other problems are anything to worry about. That being said, if the cloudy water issue persists, you may want to consider having your water professionally tested to ensure it is safe.

If you notice that only your hot water is cloudy, this is usually a sign that there is an issue with your home’s water heater. Rust and sediment can build up inside the water heater tank as it ages, and these suspended particles in the water will give it a cloudy or rust-colored appearance. In this situation, you will need to contact a professional plumber to have your water heater inspected and either repaired or replaced.

What Causes Air Bubbles in Your Water?

Air bubbles can get trapped in your pipes for a number of reasons, but in most cases, it occurs due to the water recently being shut off. When the water is shut off for any reason, it can change the pressure inside the pipes and allow excess air to mix in with the water. This can happen if you shut off your water supply for any reason or if there is any work being done to the water supply in your area. The problem can also occur due to damaged or leaking water pipes in your home.

In most cases, the water will stop being cloudy fairly quickly and especially if you let the tap run for a few minutes. If the issue still doesn’t go away, you may want to check with your neighbors to see if they are experiencing the same issue or if it is confined to your home. If the problem is confined to your home and doesn’t improve by the next day, you should then contact a professional plumber so they can inspect your building and determine what is causing the issue.

Hard Water Issues

Although Idaho typically doesn’t have as big of issues with hard water as other nearby states, our water still has a fairly high concentration of dissolved minerals. Calcium, magnesium and iron are usually the biggest culprits in terms of hard water. When the concentration of these minerals is too high, it can cause the water to have a cloudy appearance.

Hard water is completely safe to drink, but it does typically have a strange, mineral-like taste. That being said, hard water can still cause numerous issues for both your home and your plumbing. If your home has hard water, you will usually notice that your clothes feel still after washing them and that your dishes come out of the dishwasher with water spots. Hard water can also make your skin feel dry and itchy after you bathe, and it is usually more difficult to get your soap to lather properly with hard water.

Hard water can also cause limescale to form on your plumbing fixtures. It can also form inside your washing machine, dishwasher and even your coffee pot and will usually shorten the lifespan of these appliances. Limescale is essentially calcium carbonate and other mineral deposits that are left behind by the water. Over time, it can build up inside your plumbing and eventually start to reduce the water flow and potentially obstruct the pipes. The easiest way to overcome issues with hard water is to have either a water softener or reverse-osmosis water filtration system installed.

Cloudy Water Caused by Particulates

Your water may also be cloudy due to a large volume of particulates like dirt, sand, silt or other sediment. This most commonly happens in homes that get their water from a well, but it can also occasionally occur in municipal water supplies. In this situation, the water will stay cloudy no matter how long it sits, and you may even be able to see some of the larger particles suspended within it.

Most particulates are not harmful, but you still probably don’t want to drink a glass of sandy water. That being said, if your well uses a UV filter to clean the water, the sediment can prevent the filter from working properly. This is because the sediment can actually shield bacteria in the water from the UV rays.

For this reason, you will probably want to contact a plumber to see why there is so much sediment in your water supply. Generally speaking, the easiest way to overcome this problem is to install a water filtration system to help filter out the sediment, but it may also be necessary to make repairs or changes to your plumbing if this is causing the issue.

Professional Plumbing and Home Services

If you are concerned about your water being cloudy or considering installing a water softener or water filtration system, the expert plumbers at Express Plumbing Heating & Air will be happy to help. We can test your water to make sure it is safe to drink and recommend options for filtration systems or other steps to help improve the appearance and taste of your home’s water. We have been serving residents of Boise and the surrounding areas since 2006, and our team has the knowledge and experience to repair and maintain your home’s plumbing, electrical, heating and air conditioning systems. Don’t suffer with cloudy or bad-tasting water any longer. Instead, give us a call to see what we can do for you.

Brad Jordan

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