cloudy tap water

Why Do I Have Cloudy Hot Water from My Tap?

Ever turned the tap on to wash some dishes only for what looks like diluted milk to come pouring out? That’s definitely not what you want when turning the tap on.

What causes this cloudiness? And more importantly, is cloudy, milky water safe for drinking? We’re going through all this plus more down below.

What causes cloudy hot water from a tap?

In most cases, cloudy hot water is nothing to worry about. It’s actually just caused by air bubbles in your water trying to escape!

Cold water has a greater capacity to hold dissolved gases. Heating cold water up with your water heater creates hot water under pressure. Being in a sealed plumbing system, the air is unable to escape. So when you turn the tap on, you will likely find cloudy hot water due to its inability to hold on to this air.

Turning the hot water tap on suddenly releases this high water pressure and the air is released as tiny bubbles in your water. As air is lighter than water, these bubbles float up and out of your water, leaving you with perfectly normal, clear and clean water. This is what gives your water a cloudy or milky appearance.

Your water should clear from the bottom to the top as the bubbles rise and escape.

Is cloudy water safe to drink?

We’ve got some good news and some bad news. The good news is that if your water’s cloudiness is simply due to air bubbles, then your cloudy, white water is safe to drink. Set aside your water for a few minutes, and if it starts to clear from the bottom, upwards, it’s safe!

If your water looks cloudy or milky and it’s not clearing up after a while, then you might have another problem on your hands. For now, don’t drink your water and it’s probably time to call in a plumber.

cloudy hot water from bathroom tap

How to Fix Cloudy Tap Water

The problem causing your cloudy hot water might be as simple as a blocked aerator. A clogged aerator will increase the water pressure coming from your hot water tap and causes cloudy-looking air bubbles to form.

You can give the aerator a clean with a mixture of one part vinegar, one part water and soak it over night. Rinse the aerator with water the next morning and reinstall it. Unblocking the aerator might solve the problem for now but it will likely become blocked again after a while.

Replacing it with a new aerator is a more long-term solution, but the root cause of the blockage will still persist. You need a plumber to take a look at your taps and find the cause of your blocked aerator.

Alternatively, the problem might lie with your water heater. This could be especially true if the cloudiness is discoloured or your cold water is also cloudy and stays this way.

Your water heater might have a sediment build up which is why your water is cloudy. A plumbing expert can assess your water heater and provide a solution for your cloudy water and whether it is safe to drink.

The final problem that might be causing your cloudy water is your water supplier. If work is being done in your area they might turn off your water mains so no new water enters the system. Air can get into the water mains during this time and dissolve in the water, causing the bubbles responsible for your cloudy water.

For this you’ll simply have to wait it out. That air could stay in your hot water system anywhere from just a few hours to a few weeks! You’ll just have to wait the cloudy water out.

If you’re ever concerned, you’re best bet is to call in a plumbing specialist to take a look.

Published: 18 Feb, 2021

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