Why Is My Tap Water Cloudy?
In an ideal world, you’d always be able to confidently drink, cook with, and bathe in the water that comes from the sinks in your home. Unfortunately, problems with hard water, questionable water quality, and municipally treated water now raise more concerns than ever. Many consumers are now heavily reliant upon countertop water filters, tap filters, water softeners, and whole-house water filtration systems. If you’ve got cloudy water coming out of your taps, you may be worried about using it. Following are six reasons why tap water gets cloudy, along with a few tips for resolving this issue.
1. There’s Air in Your Pipes
The most common cause of cloudy water is aeration. If there’s air in your pipes, it’s a likely sign of high water pressure. Excess pressure makes air more soluble. As a result, air bubbles form. These bubbles cause the cloudy appearance of tap water. Within just several seconds, cloudy water that you’ve collected from your faucet should clear. Although cloudy water caused by excess air pressure is perfectly fine to bathe in, cook with, and consume, it’s an indication of other potential problems.
When water pressure is higher than necessary, more of the water that comes out of your tap flows down the drains unused. This means lots of water waste and higher water bills. Excessively high water pressure can also take a toll on your appliances. Your washing machine and dishwasher will likely wear down faster. As a result, you could end up having to replace them far sooner than you expect. Excess water pressure can also make any cleaning or spot removal solutions that you use in these appliances less effective. Having a plumber install a pressure reducing valve is one way to solve this problem.
2. It’s Cold Outside
Exceedingly cold outside temperatures could be the cause of your cloudy water. Low temperatures obviously won’t be the culprit in late spring or summer, but during late autumn and winter, this could be your issue. Cold water holds more air than warm water. This is because the solubility of air is increased by cold weather extremes. When low temperatures are the cause, your cloudy water will invariably clear up as it warms. However, if you turn on the tap and your hot water is cloudy, something else is to blame.
3. You’ve Got Hard Water
Second to air bubbles or aerated water, hard water is the most common cause of clouding. Hard water has high levels of magnesium, calcium, and other minerals. It doesn’t have the crisp, clean taste that people expect and it can leave a light gray coating on fixtures, bathtubs, shower pans, and sinks. Bathing and showering in hard water can also leave your skin dry, cracked, and itchy. Prolonged exposure can even result in brittle hair, hair loss, and other health and beauty concerns.
If you’ve got cloudy water that doesn’t clear after several minutes, hard water is the most likely reason. Having a water softener installed will give you better-tasting water, cleaner fixtures, and healthier skin and hair.
4. There’s Methane Gas in Your Tap Water
In general, methane gas in household water supplies isn’t very common. However, it may be an issue for some homeowners in Wisconsin. Methane gas is usually present in water supplies near active fracking sites, but it can also be introduced via contaminated groundwater and other activities. Although methane is highly flammable, this gas rapidly dissipates as it rises to the top of water and comes in contact with air. Methane contamination in your water supplies could be the cause of cloudy water if your tap water quickly clears, and if aeration or excess air pressure aren’t the problem.
5. Build-ups of Sediment Can Make Hot Water Look Cloudy
Sediment or calcium carbonate is a far more common cause of cloudy water than methane gas. Minerals and sediment at the bottom of water heaters leave water looking cloudy and unfit for drinking. Unlike methane gas and aerated pipes, this is one issue that will leave your water looking cloudy all of the time. No matter how long you let tap water sit in a glass or other vessel, it will maintain an unappealing, opaque look.
Regularly flushing your water heater will clear sediment out. This is a job that you can do on your own. However, it’s generally best left to professionals. Although this sand-like material isn’t unsafe to drink, it can cause serious problems for your water heater. Sediment wears the interior of water heaters down and sets the stage for rust formation. If the accumulation of sediment in your water heater are left unchecked, it will eventually lower the effectiveness and overall efficiency of your water heater, and it’ll significantly shorten your water heater’s lifespan.
6. There’s a High Concentration of TSS in Your Water
High concentrations of total suspended solids (TSS) in drinking water are among the most unappealing causes of clouding out there. These are particulates that remain present in potable water supplies after treatment. They can come from organic sources such as algae, or from inorganic sources such as silt, sediment, sand, and clay. When municipal water treatment processes are lagging, or when contaminant levels are naturally high, viruses, bacteria, pesticides, lead, and mercury can attach to these solids. Total suspended solids account for any particulates in potable water that are smaller than two microns.
With more cow manure than it can reasonably get rid of, Wisconsin regularly struggles with various forms of water contamination. This often comes in the form of potentially harmful viruses and bacteria. Although you don’t have to worry about having these things come into your home via the tap, it’s important to note that the solids originally carrying them might not break down fully during municipal water treatments. Even with the additional measures that many municipalities are taking to ensure safe drinking water, the water coming out of your faucet may have more additives than you think. Chlorine, chloramines, and other cleaning agents are sometimes used in abundance. So, if you think water quality is the ultimate source of your clouding issue, whole-house water filtration is your best bet.
Do You Need a Water Softener or a Water Filter?
A water softener can fix your problem with cloudy water if the underlying cause is excess sediment or hard water. However, although water softeners provider fresher tasting water, they don’t actually clean or filter it. When there are issues with high TSS levels or if you’re unhappy with the quality the municipally treated water in your area, you’ll need to have an actual water filter installed instead.
Water softeners prevent hard water stains and mineral build-ups in or on plumbing fixtures like shower heads. Water filters create healthier water for bathing, cooking and drinking. To get the greatest possible range of benefits, many households opt to have both water softeners and whole-house water filters installed.
Black-Haak has been serving residents of the greater Fox Valley, Wisconsin area since 1956. We offer heating, cooling, plumbing, and electrical services. You can count on us for all your sump repair, pipe repair, water filtration, and water softening needs. If you’ve got excessively cloudy tap water in your home, we can find both the cause and the solution. Visit our website for more information or give us a call today!