When you’re thirsty and pour yourself water, you expect your glass to be crystal clear. But what happens if the water from your faucet comes out cloudy? Sure, it looks gross, but is it dangerous for your health? And how do you fix the problem?
Tap water that appears cloudy or murky can be caused by several issues, including air bubbles, mineral deposits (hard water), solid materials, and methane gas. In most cases, cloudy water is not harmful, but it’s always a good idea to determine the exact source and consider appropriate solutions.
Four reasons your tap water may be cloudy
1. Hard water
Roughly 85% of homes have hard water, which means a high concentration of minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Overall, hard water doesn’t pose a health risk, but it can lead to pesky problems such as difficulty lathering soap, mineral spots on dishware, and, yes, discolored water.
Hard water can also add wear-and-tear on plumbing and appliances. To resolve hard water and avoid these issues, you can have a water softener system installed that balances out the water supply’s mineral content as it enters the home.
2. Air bubbles
It’s relatively common for air to get trapped inside pipes, especially if you’ve recently had plumbing work done at your home. When tiny air bubbles get passed through the faucet, they can temporarily cause the appearance of cloudy water. However, if you let the water settle, you’ll notice the water will clear from the bottom up. Air bubbles in your water are harmless but can be remedied by a plumber.
3. Total suspended solids
In addition to minerals, your water may also contain a small amount of totals suspended solids (TSS, for short). These are solid materials such as silt, clay, iron, manganese, and algae that get picked up by the water supply. They’re called suspended solids because they float in water – not settle to the bottom. If you experience a persistent or high level of TSS, you may want to consider installing a home water filtration system.
4. Methane gas
Methane is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that can naturally appear in water, especially if you have a well system. Signs that your cloudy water is due to methane are white air bubbles and sputtering faucets. A small amount of methane gas in your water is considered OK and safe to drink, but you will need a water test to determine the exact level, measured in milligrams per liter. If you have moderate or high methane levels, you may need to install a vented well cap or aeration system.