Why is my water yellow? Most common causes, impact and effective solutions


yellow water

It might be shocking to open the tap and see that the water coming out of it is yellow. While it does not look aesthetic, you also wonder what is going on? How do I fix it?

It is important not to panic. The water’s color might be yellow or yellowish because of contamination from the pipes. When the concentration of minerals, rust and other particles into the water flow is high, it tints the water yellow. This applies both to tap and well water. While it is usually not life-threatening, it is highly unpleasant. Good news is that there are practical solutions to yellow or yellowish water. Keep reading, and you will soon be able to enjoy crystal clear top-quality water.

Why is my tap water yellow?

There are several reasons why your water might look yellow. Let us look at the most common of them:

  • Manganese and Iron. Tap water contains certain minerals such as manganese and iron. In the long run, these minerals form sediments, which settle at the bottom of the pipes. In case of changes in the water pressure, these sediments might surface and end up in the water flow. The pressure in the system might change if there is a water leak, pipes maintenance works, testing of fire hydrants,
  • Rust. Another reason why your water might have a yellow tint is rust. Rust is the most common problem tinting water yellow or even red or green. Iron sediments combining with water result in yellow tinge in your water. This is often the case when the pipes or faucets start corroding.

What causes well water to look yellow?

Well water quality often might be inferior to the water coming from the plumbing system. The quality of well water depends on the depth of the well and also its environment. The most common causes for yellow well water might be these or a combination of these factors:

  • Minerals. Well water can also contain dangerous amounts of manganese and other minerals. High concentration of this mineral might result in a metallic water taste or even tint surfaces and hands black.
  • Heavy rain. If the area where you live has experienced heavy rain, it might be that surface water is coming to the well. That might be dangerous, as it might bring organic material or decaying vegetation into your water.
  • Iron bacteria. Iron bacteria are microorganisms which feed on iron. These microorganisms are easily identifiable, as they leave slimy deposits on pipes. The iron bacteria-infected water has an unpleasant smell, which often gets described as sewage, decaying vegetation. It is not dangerous for health but might cause plumbing problems.
  • Chemicals. Chemicals might be another reason why your water is yellow. This happens when the soil around the well is contaminated, and the contaminants end up in the well water.

Why is my hot water yellowish?

In some cases, your water is not yellow, but you still see that it is not transparent and has a yellowish tint. If you experience yellowish water only when you run hot water, it can be rust or sediments in your water heater tank.

Is yellow water safe to drink?

It is better not to risk and get your water tested immediately, or call your water provider to ask if they are aware of this issue, and it’s safe to drink. Anything that is not normal looking might be a cause of concern. For example, drinking water which is yellow due to copper corrosion can cause gastro distress, vomiting. And let’s face it, no one wants to drink yellow water.

When it comes to well water, you should be more careful, as water can be contaminated with chemicals from the soil. Babies and people with health conditions are more sensitive to nitrate poisoning. Avoid giving yellow well water to them at all costs.

Is yellow water safe for bathing?

You should not worry about bathing in the yellow color water, especially if you know that it is due to the iron levels. But, it might still dry your skin and result in hair damage. If the water change is immediate, and you not aware of any water company works, it’s also best to get your water tested.

So what should you do to fix this problem?

  • Turn on your water to run free for several minutes. If the issue is the sediments due to change pressure in the pipes, the water should start clearing up after 10-15 minutes. It is still better to figure out the reason for the color change, before drinking or cooking with the water.
  • Get your water tested. The first step to figuring out what makes your water yellow is to find its source. You can do it at home with a water testing kit, or send a water sample to the laboratory. Also, it is a good idea to check with the neighbours if they have encountered yellowish water too. This will help to assess the cause.
  • Get a water filter. A cheaper and quicker way to treat your problem might be considering installing water filters such as Reverse Osmosis. RO filter is the best option for well water. It is an incredibly effective solution. It will purify and cleanse the water by removing contaminants which will result in better color, smell and taste. Reverse osmosis filters remove up to 98% of chemicals in water, nitrates, pesticides, various heavy metals, and bacteria. If you already have a RO system you can upgrade it with sediment filter.
  • Filter maintenance. Even if long-lasting, proper care of the filters is essential to ensure their top performance. Follow your manufacturer’s guidelines for your filter maintenance and cleaning. It is also a good idea to ask your plumber to do a regular check-up every few years.
  • Replace the pipes. If the water system in your house is old, you might need to consider changing the pipes. Before changing your pipes, you should make sure that they are the problem and not the pipes in the central distribution system.

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