The last thing you want in your glass is cloudy drinking water. It doesn’t just look odd — it also makes you wonder if something’s wrong with your well.
Fortunately, the most common cause of cloudiness is tiny air bubbles in the water supply. However, because sediment and hard water can also be responsible, it’s smart to take a closer look at your well water to understand what’s really going on.
Here’s everything you need to know about cloudy well water — causes, solutions and frequently asked questions.
3 Causes for Cloudy Well Water
If cloudiness has you questioning your water quality, you’re on the right track. Because wells aren’t protected by municipal water treatment solutions, identifying problems and addressing contaminants is entirely your responsibility — which means any sign of a potential issue is a big deal.*
The good news is that cloudy tap water is far from the end of the world and may not even indicate a significant well problem. Here’s what may be going on:
1. Air Bubbles
As water travels through pipes to get from your well to your tap, it’s under a certain amount of pressure. That causes dissolved, trapped air to rise to the surface as tiny air bubbles. This causes a cloudiness or even a “milky” appearance that fades over time, leaving behind clear water — and that’s because the air bubbles are released and returned to the atmosphere.
Cause: This problem is common when there’s been a change in water pressure. If you were using city water, a burst pipe in your neighborhood or surrounding areas might be to blame — but when it comes to wells, you might need to take a look at your own water system to see what’s causing this air bubble issue.
Solution: Consider calling a plumbing service for help ensuring your pipes are working properly. In the meantime, you’re safe to drink this cloudy tap water; after all, the only real problem is trapped air.
Sometimes called “suspended particles” or “suspended solids,” sedimentation may be responsible for making your well water cloudy. Remember, you don’t have any municipal filtration system to rely on — so if any kind of sediment makes it into your well, it’ll likely be in your drinking glass, too.
Cause: Water can travel a long way to get to your well. During that time, it can pick up all sorts of potential impurities, from dissolved minerals to tiny bits of sand or clay. While some of these materials may not cause problems, others — like suspended particles — can lead to cloudy water and may help trap additional contaminants, too.
Solution: A well water filtration system is one of the most effective ways to manage sediment levels. These systems trap and reduce the tiny suspended solids that might be making well water cloudy and carrying other impurities along the way.
3. Hard Water
If you have an air bubble issue, cloudiness will clear after a minute or so. If, on the other hand, the cloudy appearance remains over time, you may have a different water problem known as hardness.
Hard water is caused by certain dissolved minerals, mainly calcium and magnesium, which can build up in your water system. The results include limescale — which, in turn, can lead to cloudy water. Because limescale just keeps building up, the cloudiness doesn’t go away.
Unfortunately, water hardness won’t resolve itself, either. Those minerals will keep causing problems such as:
- Soap scum
- Stiff laundry
- Reduced soap lather
- Dry skin and hair
- Spotty dishes
Cause: Hard water is a particularly common problem for wells. That’s because the water can pick up minerals from the rock and soil surrounding your well. While city water can be hard too, the issue is pronounced in well systems.
Solution: A well water softener traps and flushes out those hardness minerals through a system of brine water and resin beads, addressing that cloudy appearance and plenty of other issues. Some systems even have smart features that give you more control over your water’s feel.
Testing Your Well Water
Although cloudiness may not indicate the presence of contaminants or any significant water problem, it’s still smart to test your well at least once a year. There are two main reasons for this:
- City water is tested frequently — sometimes daily. That means the proper authorities can catch and address many problems before they can reach homes. While it may not be realistic to test your well every single day, you should take well water testing seriously, because it’s meant to be the first line of defense against water issues that may otherwise go unnoticed.
- Well water treatment is completely up to you. Unlike city water, which goes through predetermined stages of purification, well water isn’t managed or overseen. That means it’s up to you to decide which kinds of treatment are necessary — and that depends on what potential contaminants are present in your water supply.
You should have a professional water test performed to ensure you’re getting the most accurate results. Plus, you’ll get detailed information about what those results mean and which water treatment solutions are best for your well.
Cloudy Well Water FAQs
There’s a lot to know about cloudy water. Here are the answers to some of the most common questions:
Is Cloudy Water Safe to Drink?
The level of safety depends entirely on what’s making your tap water cloudy in the first place. For example, tiny bubbles and hard water are safe to drink because their causes (trapped air and minerals, respectively) generally don’t pose a health threat. However, things get a little trickier when it comes to sediment, because until you know exactly what kind is present in your water supply, you may not know its effects.
Can You See, Smell or Taste All Well Water Problems?
Some issues — like sulfur — are easy to spot because they come with a distinct odor, taste or color. Others may not be noticeable at first, but they’ll make themselves known over time — for example, hard water, which causes more home problems the longer it lasts.
However, some well water problems are totally invisible to the senses. For example, arsenic has no taste, odor or color, but it can sometimes find its way into the water supply.
Can You Prevent Cloudy Water?
You can prevent some causes of cloudy water with filtration or softening solutions. Others, like water pressure and trapped air, might be a problem for your plumbing service.
Fix Cloudy Water and Other Well Issues
Although cloudy well water often isn’t a reason to panic, it’s a good reminder to learn more about your well and how it works. You should always take note of any change in water quality, including discoloration or cloudiness, and have a water test performed right away. That’s in addition to the yearly tests that help ensure your well is safe and working effectively.
Ready to learn more about your well water quality? Schedule your free, in-home water test and consultation today.
*Contaminants may not be present in your water.
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