Cloudy Tap Water – What’s Behind the Cause and How to Fix It

Melissa Bradford

Cloudy Tap Water – What’s Behind the Cause and How to Fix It

Have you ever turned on your tap only to be met with water that looks cloudy or milky? It’s a common occurrence that can leave many homeowners puzzled and concerned. The good news is that in most cases, cloudy tap water is not a severe issue, and it can often be easily resolved.

Right now, we’ll dive deep into the causes of cloudy tap water, explore whether it’s safe to use for drinking and cooking and provide you with practical solutions to clear the haze. So, let’s begin our journey to clear up the phenomenon of cloudy tap water and ensure your water is as clear as it should be.

Why is My Tap Water Cloudy?

Cloudy or milky tap water is usually caused by the rigorous testing it undergoes and isn’t a serious issue. However, sometimes there can be exceptions. There are a few possible causes for cloudy tap water:

Trapped air in the pipework

Air trapped in the pipes Is the most common cause of cloudy tap water. If there has been a change in pressure in the water supply network (a pipe has burst or local repair work is carried out), air can get trapped in the pipes and expelled via the taps.

To find out whether it’s an issue with your household pipework or the wider supply network, see if your neighbours have the same issue. If the problem is isolated only to your property, you may need to contact a plumber or the local council.

If that’s the cause for cloudy tap water, it’ll naturally clear within a few minutes once you pour it into a glass. The cloudiness will clear from the bottom upwards while tiny air bubbles rise to the top. If the hot tap water is cloudy, you may have an issue with your boiler. Contact a plumber as soon as possible.

Particulate in the water supply

When water passes through the supply network, it may pick up sediment or particulate (sand, silt or rock), which doesn’t fully dissolve, leaving your water cloudy. Most particulate is harmless. The main issue is that it can cause water to look dirty. 

However, if you use a private water supply and utilise a UV filter for sterilisation, particulates can carry harmful bacteria from UV filtration. This will make you more susceptible to water-borne illnesses.

Unlike aerated water, if cloudy water is caused by particulate, it won’t clear easily. You may be able to spot the individual pieces of sediment if they’re large enough. If you are concerned about the amount of particulate in your water supply, consider a mechanical water filtration system.

Hard water

If you live in a hard water area, you may experience limescale build-up in your pipes or appliances. This can cause your water to appear cloudy. Limescale is formed when hard water is heated, and the chalky white deposits usually appear after boiling. However, they can also form inside taps and pipework connected to the boiler or water heaters.

There are no health issues associated with consuming cloudy water caused by hard water. Nevertheless, the discolouration can be less appealing, especially if chalky deposits build up on taps and other appliances. 

Hard water is caused by a large number of mineral content. There are a few different ways you can remove the minerals that cause cloudy water: water filters with polyphosphate scale inhibitors, water softeners and calcium treatment units.

Is cloud water safe to cook with

Cloudy water resulting from trapped air is generally safe for consumption and won’t pose any health risks. However, it can occasionally be harsh on your plumbing and sinks. If your water appears not only cloudy but also has a brown, yellow, or greenish hue, it’s essential to be cautious, as it may contain harmful contaminants that could adversely affect your health.

A cloudy water supply caused by hard water can cause build-up on pipes, reduce the life expectancy of appliances, and reduce the effectiveness of soaps and detergents.

If you are concerned about the quality of your water, you can easily test for common contaminants using an at-home water testing kit. In most cases, cloudy tap water is safe to drink and cook with. If the cloudiness bothers you, let the water sit for a few minutes before using it.

Who to call if I have cloudy tap water

Run each cold water tap in your residence briefly, and collect a glass of the running water. If all your fixtures consistently produce cloudy water, it’s probably due to air in the municipal supply. Should the cloudiness persist after 24 hours, reach out to your local water company to inquire about ongoing maintenance or potential local water supply problems.

If you notice cloudy water coming from just one of your faucets, try this simple fix: remove the aerator, give it a thorough cleaning using a mixture of 50% water and 50% vinegar, rinse it well, and then put it back in place. If the issue persists despite these efforts, it’s advisable to get in touch with a skilled handyman to diagnose and resolve the problem effectively.

Don’t forget the importance of regular maintenance to keep your tap water consistently clear and high-quality. As time goes by, mineral deposits, like limescale, can build up in water heaters, boilers, and plumbing systems, potentially causing cloudy water.

To steer clear of these problems, make it a habit to schedule routine check-ups and maintenance for your water-related appliances and plumbing.

Final words

Encountering cloudy tap water can certainly raise questions and concerns, but more often than not, it’s a minor issue with a straightforward solution. Whether it’s trapped air, harmless particulates, or the result of living in a hard water area, the water quality itself is generally safe for consumption and cooking. 

Remember that regular maintenance of your kitchen and bathroom plumbing and appliances can help alleviate some of these cloudy water woes. And if you ever find yourself puzzled by persistent cloudiness, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local water company or a handyman for assistance. 

With a bit of attention and care, you can ensure your tap water flows crystal clear, providing you with safe and refreshing hydration for years to come.

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