What if your Tap Water isn’t CLEAR?


An Overview of the Color of Your Tap Water

For most consumers, who own or live in a home, it is not all that difficult to detect a problem with their water supply if the tap water comes out of the faucet an odd color. But before you rush out in a panic and call a water treatment professional, it is important to understand what the cause of a color change is due to, and that there are a host of different issues which can alter the appearance of your water supply, and not necessarily be dangerous or even a problem.What if your Tap Water isn’t CLEAR?

Yellow Water:

If your water supply has a yellow tint to it this could be from organic iron.  This is a common mineral that sometimes seeps into wells which provides water to our homes.  Water testing would need to be done to determine if iron was causing the yellow tinge. Unless this tinting is accompanied by an unpleasant odor (usually a sign of sulfur or hydrogen sulfide), there is no hazard to human health even though it is truly aesthetically uninviting.

Brown/Red Water:

Brown or typically red coloration of your water supply is generally an indication of  manganese or iron in the water supply. This rusty colored water can be caused by a variety of issues from actual iron ore present at the water source commonly derived from water traveling through rock formation heavy in iron to contamination caused from corroded older pipes carrying your water supply to your faucet. The EPA considers iron to be a secondary contaminant unless it is in extremely high levels.  It typically does not present a danger to health. Unfortunately, the presence of iron can leave water looking and tasting very metallic and unpleasant. It can also cause considerable damage and stains to fixtures, appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines and water heaters and discoloration to laundry, so iron in the water supply can be a costly problem for homeowners if left untreated. 

Milky and Bubbly Water:

Generally, cloudy tap water is actually due to the water containing lots of tiny oxygen rich bubbles. This is an especially common issue during the colder winter months in the Midwest and north, when the outside temperatures are far colder than heated indoors. The temperature difference between the cold water and the warmer atmosphere in your home creates these tiny bubbles.  Fortunately, this type of water color is not actually a problem and it’s harmless.  This said, when you are expecting a cool clear glass of water, it can be bit disquieting to see near milky-like fluid coming out of your faucet.

To identify the accurate nature and cause of your cloudy water, fill a glass and watch the bubbles. If they rise from the bottom and the water returns to a clear appearance within moments, this is likely caused by the tiny oxygen bubbles and there is no hazard associated with drinking this water.  If the murkiness does not go away, then call a water treatment professional to determine the cause and if there is any health risk.

Blue/Green Water:

A blue or green tint is generally caused by copper. The levels of copper in drinking water is regulated by the EPA and copper contamination can cause a number of issues. While low levels of copper are permitted by EPA regulations and copper can also come you’re your pipes, it more likely will be caused by a contaminated water supplies and cannot be tasted. Higher levels can cause staining to laundry and fixtures. Additionally very high levels of copper can trigger symptoms of gastrointestinal distress including diarrhea and vomiting.

About The Author, Terry Reeh, EcoWater Systems of Nebraska:

With more than 25 years experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Terry is a WQA (Water Quality Association) certified water specialist, LEVEL 3, as well as a WQA certified sales representative.  EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is one of the biggest water treatment and water delivery businesses in the state, Terry currently sits on EcoWater Systems (a Berkshire Hathaway Company) national Peers committee, as a water treatment expert advising other water professionals with less experience on best trade and technology practices.

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