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Water Discoloration Causes - What is your water color telling you?

 

WATER DISCOLORATION CAUSES

Brown, Red, Orange or Yellow Water

Brown, red, orange, or yellow water is usually caused by rust. The different colors can be attributed to varying chemical oxidation states of the iron (rust) and by varying concentrations of the rust in the water. There are two major sources that can cause waterbrown water to be rusty:

  • The water mains, or
  • The water pipes in your building

Rusty water occurs from sediment in the pipes or rust from the inside walls of the water mains. The rust can be disturbed and temporarily suspended in water with unusual water flows from water main breaks or maintenance or by flushing of a hydrant. This discolored water is not a health threat. When the water is discolored it is recommended to either not wash laundry or to use a rust stain remover or regular detergent but not chlorine bleach as it will react with the iron to form a permanent stain.

The other major cause of brown, red, orange or yellow drinking water is rusty water pipes in your building. If old, rusty pipes are discoloring your water, contact Papalia Plumbing & Heating to come address the situation. Water that is being discolored by rusty pipes is not a health hazard; however, it is an indication that the pipes are corroding and they can eventually leak.

The first step in solving a brown or yellow water problem is to distinguish if the problem is located in your building or if it is in your city or town water supply. The following are some common characteristics of a water main disturbance:

  • The water was clear earlier but suddenly became discolored
  • Only the cold water is discolored
  • The water is discolored at all of the water faucets in your home and does not clear or improve after the water has been run for several minutes

Some common characteristics of a corrosion problem in your building include:

  • The water is discolored every morning or when first used after several hours of disuse
  • The water clears after it has run for a few minutes
  • The discoloration is only at one or several faucets, but not all of them
  • The discoloration is only in the hot water

Iron in ground water can also occur naturally in a well supplying a public water system. The presence of iron can be confirmed through analysis of the water.

Another possible cause of brown (or black) water is manganese, the presence of which can also be confirmed through analysis.

Milky White or Cloudy Water

Milky or cloudy white discolored tap water is almost always caused by air in the water. To see if the white color in the water is due to air, fill a clear glass with water and set it on the counter. Observe the glass of water 3 minutes. If the white color is due to air, the water will begin to clear at the bottom of the glass first and then gradually will clear all the way to the top. This is a natural phenomenon, caused by dissolved air in the water that is released when the faucet is opened. When you relieve the pressure by opening the faucet and filling your glass with water, the air is now free to escape from the water, giving it a milky appearance for a few minutes. If your water is cloudy or milky white in appearance and it does not clear in a glass after 5 minutes, contact the water department in your town.

Green Water

In cooler climates, the most common cause of green discolored tap water is copper plumbing corrosion. If this is happening, the water will usually have a bluish-green tint and/or will leave a bluish-green stain on porcelain if the water drips from a faucet. Copper corrosion can also be caused by your electrical system being grounded to your water pipes, especially if you have a mixture of pipe material (e.g., some copper and some galvanized steel.). Green water may also be present in homes with copper plumbing that is less than two years old. The presence of copper can be confirmed through analysis.

Green water can also be caused by dezincification of poor-quality bronze alloys found in valves, water pumps, and water pump parts. This problem can occur in high-rise buildings and large industrial properties where the water is pumped to storage tanks. The water may also be tested for zinc.

During warm weather, green water may be caused by green algae in water supplies served by reservoirs or rivers. Algae are single-celled plants that readily grow in bodies of fresh water. Algae are not a health threat and reservoirs can be managed and monitored to prevent algae from growing to the point where they discolor the water. The water supplier through filtration may also remove algae.

Blue Water

Having blue water is rare and the cause may be due to extreme copper plumbing corrosion. If this is happening, the water will usually have a bluish-green tint and/or will leave a bluish-green stain on porcelain if the water drips from a faucet. This copper corrosion can be caused by your electrical system being grounded to your water pipes, especially if you have a mixture of pipe material (e.g., some copper and some galvanized steel.) The presence of copper can be confirmed through analysis.

Blue water can also be caused by dezincification of poor-quality bronze alloys found in valves, water pumps, and water pump parts. This problem can occur in high-rise buildings and large industrial properties where the water is pumped to storage tanks. The water may also be tested for zinc.

 

Call Papalia Plumbing & Heating, Inc. today if you are noticing discoloration in your water. 978.897.1701

Comments

Hi: 
 
We have a well and pump for our house, which was built in 2008. We had a sprinkler system installed last week, and now every time the sprinklers run, the water in the house comes out a rusty red/brown intermittently. It will usually go away after a while of running it, but it's really annoying to have red water first thing in the morning for showers. Can you tell me if this is something my sprinkler guy can fix or if it's an issue with the pump itself. Thank you.
Posted @ Tuesday, July 30, 2013 7:00 PM by Denise Culver
You should get a skilled well guy out to look at your issue. It seems the volume of water being used when the sprinkler is on is causing the brown water. The existing well mught not have the capacity to handle the volume. Your well guy should be able to give you options to remedy the situation. Good Luck! Jim Pap.
Posted @ Friday, August 02, 2013 10:59 AM by Jim Papalia
This post is really incredible, one of the most helpful I have ever read,indeed.
Posted @ Tuesday, September 24, 2013 12:36 AM by Stop Smoking
I work in a school that has multiple connected buildings. Two thirds of the buildings have yellow water every Monday morning & after long breaks. It is also yellow after periods of rain, not always heavy rain. It also has an odd flavor to it. Could this be a break in the system or sediment in the pipes like they tell us.
Posted @ Tuesday, September 24, 2013 7:32 PM by Jane Doe
How do you fix the cloudy water with air pressure
Posted @ Wednesday, October 09, 2013 3:07 AM by Jackie
Since they changed the water main to my area 2 weeks ago, I have been getting a very pail pinkish gray water flow coming out of my tap water.  
When I make coffee in the Mr. Coffee, there is a redish brown, ring around the actual brown coffee.  
It is only in my tap water.  
Thank You
Posted @ Monday, October 28, 2013 2:47 PM by Clair
This is interesting! I enjoyed reading your great post.Thanks for the valuable information and insights you have shared here. Queens Physical Therapy
Posted @ Monday, November 18, 2013 5:04 AM by Robert Costiera
WOW !! What a nice blog and wonderful shared to WATER DISCOLORATION
Posted @ Friday, November 22, 2013 10:33 AM by Galvanised tank
Our house is approximately 20 years old and has a dug well. The past two years around December we notice that our cold water turns a rusty brown colour. Once we change the filter on the water pump it will run clear, but that only lasts two days and then has to be changed again. This water problem continued last year until late march and then seemed to just disappear?? Very strange... Any ideas what may be causing this??
Posted @ Thursday, December 26, 2013 8:49 AM by Leona Philpott
Hi, 
We have noticed a blue tint to our warm water. It is less/not noticeable in our cold water. We live in a home with a dug well and our PH tested fine(have a PH system installed). Any ideas what this could be? It stumped the water test guy that was here. Thanks!
Posted @ Monday, March 10, 2014 2:25 PM by I Vanni
I assume the water test guy did not actually have the water tested yet and that is why he was stumped. He should be bringing the sample to a competent testing facility or filter manufacturer. Sometimes a water treatment service company will do some testing in house, depending on the consumer's needs, but most times the company will have the sample tested with a write up of what is found in the water, a short description, and a solutions to remedy the issue with equipment and products. If you need more information you can call and ask for Jim P.
Posted @ Tuesday, March 11, 2014 7:13 AM by Jim Papalia
Recently,with the snow thaw the water in my toilets and cold water turned brown, but cleared after two days. One well guys said that I probably needed new pipes, and a different one said that I needed a new well. ($15,000) I am getting the water tested, but who should I believe? Get a third opinion? The water runs fine at this point.
Posted @ Saturday, April 05, 2014 8:43 AM by Patricia Peters
Really cool post, highly informative and professionally written..Good Job.
Posted @ Thursday, May 08, 2014 5:27 AM by Water Main Break
Hoping I get an answer in here... We had issues with our well water, the normal stuff, so we got a filtration system. It works very well, but we keep having this issue with the toilet water. We remodeled our bathroom and have new toilets because our old toilets were ruined due to some kind of bacteria. We thought that would have solved the issue. Well, one toilet is fine, but the other toilet we are still getting yellow/tan water. The tank also became very stained from the iron so we emptied it out and cleaned it with It Works and got it back to white. The tank is starting to stain again and the water is still yellow/tan. We changed the line hose thinking it was contaminated, but still. This is the only toilet we are fighting still, the other is okay. Please help.....
Posted @ Monday, May 12, 2014 9:46 AM by Lisa
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