Brown, red, orange or yellow water is usually caused by rust. The major causes of rust include water pipes in your building or water mains.
Intermittent brown, red, orange or yellow hot water. If your water is discolored only for a minute or two after you turn on the tap, the cause may be the internal plumbing. The zinc coating on the inside of galvanized iron pipe can wear thin and expose your water to bare iron. The different colors can be attributed to varying chemical oxidation states of the iron (rust). The longer the water sits in the pipes, the worse the discoloration will be. This is why this problem is most noticeable the first time you turn on the tap in the morning. If only a few taps are affected, only a portion of your internal plumbing has galvanized pipe.
After running your tap for a few minutes, clean water from your water heater or the water main will replace the discolored water. Since iron is an essential nutrient, this condition poses no health hazard. If the discoloration bothers you, however, flush the tap until the water becomes clear and save the water for iron-loving plants.
Consistent brown or yellow cold water. Normal pipeline flow allows silt, sediment and other materials to settle to the bottom of the pipe. A disruption of normal flow can cause these materials to get stirred up and suspended in the water and cause the water to look light yellow to dark brown. The discoloration is caused by dissolved iron which is stirred up in naturally-occurring sediments.
The following conditions commonly cause flow reversals in water mains and sediment to be disturbed.
The discoloration does not indicate that the water is unsafe or that the integrity of the water main has been compromised. A disinfectant residual is maintained in our system to ensure that the water is safe for household use, including cooking and drinking. For aesthetic reasons, we recommend you avoid doing laundry until the water clears up. We also recommend that you do not use the hot water as it will draw cold, rusty water into the tank and it may need to be flushed out later.
If the water at the front hose bib is discolored after running for two minutes, the problem may be coming from our water main and you can contact us at 925-688-8156.
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Milky white water can also be described as cloudy, hazy, soupy or foamy, and is almost always caused by air in the water.
Consistent cloudiness in cold and hot water. Tiny air bubbles in water can give water a cloudy or milky appearance. Water in your pipes is under pressure. Filling a glass of water reduces that pressure and can cause air bubbles to appear in your water which can look cloudy, milky, or carbonated.
Cloudiness in warm or hot water. Air in water lines can sometimes be attributed to warming of cold water lines or overheating water (above 140 degrees) from hot water systems. Milky white water often occurs in spring time when the weather begins to warm.
Troubleshooting. Collect a glass of water and let it stand for two to three minutes. Any air bubbles will rise to the surface and the milky appearance of water should clear starting from the bottom. Entrained air does not affect the quality of your water.
The blue disinfectant some people use in their toilets can cause discoloration of your tap water if your water supply was recently turned off. A condition may have been created in which the water from the toilet tank was siphoned into the plumbing of your house. This can happen when the toilet is upstairs and the water supply has been shut off for some reason. These disinfectants contain chemicals that may pose health hazards if ingested or touched. Flush your plumbing by opening each tap until the water runs clear. Do not drink this water. Blue (or blue-green) water 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 around fixtures and on a white surface 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 (i.e., some copper and some galvanized iron). If the blue color is only in the hot water, it may be due to the temperature on the water heater being set too high. If you have a hot water circulating system, the return line may be too small or the water may be pumped too fast for your pipe size, or it may be installed incorrectly.
Standing water in a white bathtub can sometimes appear to have a greenish tint to it. Fluorescent lights will make your water appear green. To test this, fill a white bucket with water and take it outside. In the sunlight, the water will look clear and no longer appear green.
Another cause of green water is extreme copper plumbing corrosion. If this is happening, the water will usually have a bluish-green tint and may 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). If the green color is only in the hot water, it may be due to the temperature on the water heater being set too high. If you have a hot water circulating system, the return line may be too small or the water may be pumped too fast for your pipe size, or it may be installed incorrectly.
Wait for District crews to complete their work and flows to re-establish. We recommend an hour before resuming normal water use to let the normal flow patterns in our mains to re-establish themselves and for any remaining sediment to settle down.
If discolored water is also in the hot water system, you can continue to use hot water until the discoloration dissipates and is no longer an aesthetic issue. Many customers prefer to do this rather than refilling the water heater which may require expertise of a plumber if you are unfamiliar with how to do this safely.
Following this guidance generally will take care of the problem. However, depending on the pattern of water use in your neighborhood, it may be necessary to repeat the process more than once if the discoloration continues.