When you turn on the faucet, you expect to see clean and clear tap water that looks refreshing enough to drink. However, it can be alarming when there is suddenly cloudy tap water with a milky, opaque texture instead. The strange discolouration may leave you worried, questioning whether the cloudy water is safe for use or consumption. This cloudiness goes against your understanding of what healthy, hygienic water looks like.
You must not ignore the discolouration in cloudy tap water. In some cases, the cloudiness is the result of sewage substances being backed up into your faucet water. If this is the case, the smell emanating from the tap water would be unbearable. Since this is a serious situation with potential health implications, you should get a professional plumber to address the issue right away.
Cloudy tap water is also a common scenario in old homes that have galvanized plumbing systems. Other causes include air bubbles, methane gas in the water, total suspended solids, hard water, and faulty plumbing. For each problem, here are the detailed explanations about why the tap water looks cloudy:
1. Cloudy tap water is caused by air bubbles.
One of the reasons why your faucet produces cloudy tap water is because of trapped air bubbles. To confirm if this is the case, fill up a glass with water from the tap and leave it for a couple of minutes. After a few minutes, check if the water becomes fully clear from the bottom of the glass upwards. If this is the case, the culprit of your cloudy tap water is air bubbles.
Air bubbles may enter your faucet because of air that gets trapped inside the pipes. It may also be caused by the high level of water pressure in your plumbing system. The good news is that air bubbles are harmless. You don’t need to fix them unless the bubbles become a constant nuisance. In this case, your plumber will know what to do.
2. Old galvanized pipes lead to cloudy tap water.
Most old homes feature a galvanized plumbing system that is highly durable. Nonetheless, these pipes will rust with age. As they deteriorate, the resultant rust mixes with your faucet water, making it look cloudy or milky. It may also leave your sink with unsightly rust stains.
Rusty, deteriorating pipes are critical causes of cloudy tap water flowing from a faucet. While not all cloudy water is harmful, some may contain elements that make it unsafe to drink. You should be very careful about not consuming cloudy water, especially when the problem is undiagnosed. Err on the side of caution and don’t take any unnecessary risks until you called a local plumber to fix the problem.
3. Hard water may result in cloudiness.
Your tap water is cloudy because there may be the presence of hard water. The cloudiness comes from the fact that hard water contains magnesium and calcium sediments. As the water flows downstream and into your taps, it picks up these sediments from the terrain.
There are several signs that your faucets may be producing hard water. See if there are visible white spots on your glassware, sinks, and clothes, which are commonly found with hard water. In addition, check if you need to use extra detergents to wash dishes or laundry because the water doesn’t clean them thoroughly. Since hard water has a high concentration of materials, your clothes might become discoloured and stiff after washing.
4. Methane can cause cloudy tap water.
Methane is a naturally occurring gas that has a tasteless, colourless, and odourless appearance. Heavy amounts of methane can make your faucet water look cloudy or milky. You will know that your water contains this gas if it’s sputtering from the faucet. While methane gas is non-toxic, high concentrations may pose a safety hazard in your home due to their combustible nature.
If your water is sourced from a well, there is a high chance that it might contain methane gas. Another indicator of methane gas is if your faucet water contains white bubbles. If you suspect the presence of this gas in your cloudy tap water, get a professional to test it and determine what the levels are.
5. Your cloudy tap water has total suspended solids (TSS).
Does your cloudy tap water clear up after it passes through a filter? If so, this means it has tiny solids that were suspended in the water. The suspended solids may include algae, silt, manganese, sediment, iron, and clay. It’s essential to note that unusual cloudiness caused by total suspended solids (TSS) could lead to bacteria growth.
TSS refers to the tiny solids that remain suspended in water from your faucet. This is what gives it that cloudy or milky appearance. The water is also likely to have total suspended solids if there was construction activity nearby. Drilling or other ground disturbances in the vicinity could result in your faucet water having TSS, making it look cloudy.
To get rid of the cloudy tap water, use multi-level water filtration media to address the severe cloudiness. For less pervasive cloudiness, a bag water filter or standard cartridge should be an adequate treatment.