Millions of households across the United States have and rely on well water for daily water supply. Unlike city water, private wells aren’t regulated. Many well owners are asking, “What causes cloudy well water?”.
Cloudy water is a common well water issue. It can be due to the water being naturally hard. Air bubbles, dissolved gases, sediments, high iron and manganese levels, heavy rain, and surface water runoff are also common causes.
If you notice any change in color, appearance, odor, or taste in your water, have it tested immediately. This is part of your responsibility as a well owner and the results will tell you if the changes are a cause for a health concern or not.
Below, we’ll go over the common causes of cloudy well water including whether you should drink cloudy water or not. Then, we’ll also cover various proactive actions you can take to fix cloudy well water.
What Causes Cloudy Well Water?
Crystal-clear well water is and should be the standard. But unlike municipal and city water, well water is more prone and susceptible to contamination and quality issues.
One of these common well water issues is cloudy or murky water.
There are many reasons why well water coming out of your home’s taps and faucets appears cloudy. Luckily, most of these causes are no cause for immediate concern or medical attention. Still, it would be best for private well owners to be wary of what could cause their home water supply to take on a cloudy or murky appearance.
Here are all the possible causes of cloudy well water:
- Air bubbles
The presence of small air bubbles suspended in water can give it a cloudy appearance.
Air bubbles inside your water piping system could indicate a few things:
- You have leaking water pumps and these leaks suck in air into your well water system. The small air bubbles are pumped out through your home’s taps as well, causing a cloudy and murky appearance.
- The well’s water level is running low so when your well pump tries to pump out the water supply, what comes out of the faucets is a mixture of water and air pockets.
- You have a newly-installed well water filtration system that still has air in the piping system.
No matter the cause of naturally occurring air bubbles in your piping system, they are one of the most common causes of cloudy water and are of the least concern for private well owners.
You can test this out on your own. Pour water from the faucet into a clear glass. Then, set the glass down, wait, and see. If the water clears out on its own, then it’s probably caused by air bubbles that rise up, clearing the water.
- Hard well water
Not all well water is hard water, but most of them are. If you live in an area where hard water is prevalent, then this might be what’s causing the cloudy appearance of your daily water supply.
Hard water contains various levels of minerals like magnesium and calcium.
Though hard water is totally safe for drinking and human consumption, it can give water an undesirable taste. It can also stain bathroom fixtures and give you a hard time lathering up soap and shampoo.
Moreover, hard water can cause mineral buildup inside pipes and faucets. And when turned on, can give you cloudy-looking water instead.
Many households with naturally hard water use whole-home water softening systems to remove excess minerals from their home water supply.
- Dissolved gases
Gases can contaminate your well and home water supply, causing cloudy water. Methane is the most common type of gas that can be found in wells.
Pure methane gas is odorless so it would be hard for homeowners to determine if this was the cause. If you suspect it’s what causing the cloudy appearance of your water, you should have your water supply tested immediately.
While the presence of methane gas bubbles in water in small amounts is not a health risk even when consumed, it can be a risk for explosions in your home water system once the amount is above 28mg/L.
Methane as a cause of cloudy water is more dangerous but not very common.
- High levels of water sediment
Cloudy water can indicate high levels of sediment contaminants present in your water. Sediment particles like sand, clay, silt, and rock particles can build up in your piping system after a while, causing cloudy water.
The easy way to determine if sediments are what’s causing cloudy water is to pour water into a clear glass and let it sit for a while. Sediments will usually settle to the bottom of the glass.
Sediments in your daily water supply aren’t usually a cause for major concern, but this would still depend on what particles are present in your water. Testing your water will let you know whether sediments are present or not and whether you should be concerned or not.
- High iron and manganese levels
Iron and manganese are natural minerals usually present in soil and water. And because well water travels and seeps through rocks and soil, it can often be contaminated by these minerals.
If your water supply isn’t just cloudy in appearance but also has a reddish-brown tint to it, there may be excess iron and manganese present.
These minerals don’t pose a health risk but can leave stains on your bathroom fixtures, dishes, and clothes and can prove to be very difficult to remove.
- Heavy rain and surface water runoff
Heavy rain and flooding in your area can cause surface water to seep into your well. Surface water seepage is a greater risk if you live near creaks, rivers, or ponds.
Particles from excess surface water can sneak in and cause cloudiness to your well water supply.
Is Cloudy Water Safe to Drink?
There are many possible causes for cloudy well water. And the good news is most of these causes are likely completely harmless.
Generally speaking, cloudy water is safe to drink and doesn’t pose a major health risk.
But then again, it’s important to remember that the actual cause of your home’s cloudy water would determine whether it’s safe for consumption or not.
This is why testing your water supply should always be a priority for all private well owners.
How to Fix Cloudy Well Water
If you find yourself dealing with an issue of cloudy well water, here’s what you can do to fix the issue:
- Have your water tested
Unlike municipal and city water, well owners are responsible for maintaining their private wells. Part of maintaining a well is through regular water testing.
Once you notice a change in color, appearance, smell, or taste, have your water supply tested through a certified testing laboratory.
The test will give you details on what contaminants are present in your water supply. From there, you will be able to figure out what the best course of action is.
- Clear the air
If your cloudy tap water is caused by excess air bubbles in the piping system, here’s what you should do:
- Turn off the main valve supply.
- Turn on all the faucets and taps inside and outside the house that draw water from your well. Don’t turn them on fully, just right to let the air escape.
- Then, turn the main valve supply back on and leave all the faucets running for about 15 minutes.
This should clear the air and eliminate cloudy water.
- Identify and fix leaks
Air bubbles can enter your water supply system through cracks and leaks, even the smallest ones. Check your plumbing system for cracks and leaks and fix every last one that you find.
- Install a sediment water filtration system
If the main cause for cloudy water coming out of your faucets is sediments, installing a sediment filter would be your best bet.
Sediment water filtration systems will remove sediments and various particles that might be contaminating your water supply. And when these sediments are taken care of, so is your family’s water supply.
- Install a whole-house water-softening system
If the natural hardness of your water is what’s causing you cloudy water, invest in a whole-house water softening system. This type of filter will remove natural minerals that might be causing your tap water supply to appear cloudy.
- Regular well maintenance
Unlike municipal and city water, private wells aren’t regulated by the government. The responsibility for maintaining private wells falls on the owners.
Keep your well clean and your water safe for consumption. Inspect the integrity of the well and its different parts to make sure nothing is broken and everything is working fine.
Call in a professional for regular inspections to make sure everything is up to standard. And of course, regularly test your well water to ensure it’s free from contaminants and is safe for drinking.
Private wells are pretty common sources for daily water necessities. They can be prone to quality issues and one of them is cloudy water. Many well owners are wondering what exactly could cause this.
There are many and various reasons why your home’s tap water may appear cloudy or murky. This could be due to air bubbles, dissolved gases, sediments, or high iron and manganese levels. Your water being naturally hard can also be a reason. And lastly, heavy rain and surface water runoff is another common cause for cloudy water.
And that has been our answer to the question, “What causes cloudy well water?”. Reach out to us below if you want us to answer more of your queries!