There are a few causes and none of them are a good sign. Blue tint in tap water is a sight that there are copper particles dissolved in it. Most likely the copper particles come from old plumbing that is corroded.
Read on as I’ll explain how you can determine if your home water is polluted with copper and what can you do about it to fix this issue. But first, we need to understand how the copper actually ends up in tap water.
Detailed explanations of the causes
This usually happens because of old copper pipes that are installed for the water system in a house. Homebuilding, construction, and refurbishment technologies are constantly changing and improving. Only quite recently these changes started to happen in order to build healthier environments. Before, most innovations were focused on cutting costs and improving efficiency.
Copper pipes are still commonly used in the construction industry for water supply lines. Although with modern materials and better knowledge, copper pipes are becoming less popular for house water systems.
Copper pipes can last somewhere around 20 to 30 years but that was not well known when these pipes were installed back in the day.
Of course, the wear of plumbing depends hugely on the water load that travels through it, the quality of water, and the geographical location.
Some common reasons why copper pipes can corrode
• Acidic water
Although copper is a resilient metal and it’s easy to work with when exposed to acid it corrodes. Simple water could be slightly acidic, meaning on a lower pH scale. There’s not much wrong in the moment, but over many years this does the slight damage to the pipes. The inner surface of copper pipes get damaged and starts to release copper particles. This can happen not only for tap but also for well water.
• Sediment and minerals
These particles can be particles of various sizes, but most likely very tiny. With the added pressure that water source has while flowing through the system, this sediment can act like sandpaper. Multiply that by many years and dirty sandy water will slowly but steady brush against the pipes while taking copper particles with it.
• Excessive water pressure
A small chance, but excessive pressure can act violently on the piping system. For reasons similar to stated above, this accelerates the rate of corrosion.
Improper grounding in a household electrical grid can cause a small electrical charge that comes into contact with the copper piping. Since copper is an excellent conductor the process called electrolysis can easily happen. During electrolysis some electrons are removed from the copper molecules, resulting in corrosion of the pipe itself. In turn, the copper particles are released into traveling water and creating that strange blue tint.
• Salty water
Probably very unlikely, that excess salt will end up in your water source. But it’s important to know that slightly salty water can be really damaging to copper pipes. How can this happen?
If you live really close to the sea, there could be a small chance but more likely the salt can come from the ground deposits. So well water can be a suspect especially if it’s known that rock salt could be found in the area.
Is blue water safe to drink?
I wouldn’t recommend it. Based on the World Health Organization recommendations, the maximum level of copper per liter should not exceed 2.0 milligrams. In the short term, it’s better than not drinking at all, sure. But drinking water that has traces of copper for a longer period of time can cause known symptoms such as stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea.
Prolong copper toxicity can lead to acute symptoms such as vomiting, increased risk for liver problems, and kidney disease.
Can I still bath in the blue water coming from the tap?
Yes, you can. In the short term, nothing bad will happen. But, the body does absorb water and microelements through the skin. So while drinking copper-rich water, and bathing in it for years will most likely result in unpleasant outcomes.
Test your water
After discovering that blue or green water is coming from the tap, no mater is it well water or municipal tap water it’s best to test it. You can buy a copper water testing kit on your own and use it.
Or, you can contact your local institution that handles the water service and its quality. A proper lab test can tell all about the water and what’s inside it.
What about green water?
Green water can be the result of the same copper issue. Sometimes after installing new copper pipes, it takes some time for them to set. But, if the pipes are old and the water is green it’s probably the same cause. Blue or green water tints can change color depending on lighting conditions and other dissolved minerals.
How to get rid of blue/green tint and prevent it in the future?
It could have been happening for years before you noticed. Or someone else, visiting noticed it for you. Or maybe you just moved in and noticed that the water from the tap has a strange color.
• If the cause is acidic water of salt
A water filter used to purify water and normalize the pH before entering the whole house pipes should do the job. Of course, a much more accessible way is to install a countertop reverse osmosis system or use other purification methods such as distillation.
• If the case is electrolysis
Grounding the wires properly should do the job. Sometimes the pipes are used to ground the wire by construction workers. This is not a proper way to vire electricity. But if identified and solved, this might stop the copper corrosion altogether.
Contact a specialist and request a consultation after figuring out the reason. Most likely it will be solved by using an earthing electrode next to the house instead of water piping for grounding.
• If it’s none of the above
Or even if it’s all the reasons. Some bronze fixtures or even an old faucet can contribute in similar ways. Changing the plumbing in your house to plastic PVC pipes might just solve all that for good.
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