Why is the Water in my Faucets brown and cloudy?

When the water coming out of the faucet turns brown or cloudy, it can be quite alarming; you expect water to be clear and colorless. Though it may seem unappealing, cloudy or discolored water is not necessarily “dirty”. These qualities may be caused by a number of reasons; not all of them adversely affect the health of humans.

The causes of brown and cloudy tap water include:

  • air bubbles
  • calcium
  • high iron content
  • dirt
  • rust
  • other contaminants

When faucet water turns cloudy, milky white, or foamy in appearance, this is usually caused by the presence of oxygen or calcium. Sharp changes in temperature or pressure affect the water’s ability to contain the oxygen normally dissolved therein; the oxygen separates and is visible as tiny air bubbles swirling through the water. Eventually, the oxygen is dissolves again into the water. Just fill a glass with tap water. The cloudiness will swirl through the glass before rising to the top of the water and disappearing; it is the oxygen dissolving back into the rest of the water. If the cloudiness doesn’t disperse soon on its own, then it is caused by something besides oxygen air bubbles.

Calcium is sometimes used to treat water; it combats corrosion in the pipes. The calcium will appear in cold water; the cloudiness will disperse after thirty minutes as white or gray calcium particles settle towards the bottom. This water is safe for drinking.

The primary cause of brown tap water is high amounts of iron. The iron often comes from rust in the pipes, or seeps through from the surrounding soil system. Though it may be accompanied by a metallic taste, the iron is safe to consume, though it may stain porcelain and clothes.

Brown water is often a sign of rust from the water pipes; there may also be a break in the pipes that is allowing in some contaminant, such as dirt. Rust in the water can also turn it brown, yellow, red, or orange.  

More directly, the brown coloring is from a high quantity of iron in the water which can come from rust as the water pipes corrode, or seepage from the soil surrounding underground pipes. Normal drinking water contains 5% iron and it is a substance that is safe for humans to consume.

This is a sponsored post by Scardina Plumbing, a local bathroom remodeling company proudly serving the greater Baltimore, MD area. 


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