Do you notice that your hot water appears cloudy but your cold water looks clear as ever? Through the process of elimination, you’ve probably come to the conclusion that the problem lies somewhere at your water heater or the hot water lines.
Is “white water” a high-priority concern? What causes it, and how can you get your back to its original quality?
In this PlumbingNav guide, we will cover:
- Why is my hot water cloudy?
- Reasons your hot water is cloudy white
- How to fix cloudy tap water
|What's In This Guide?|
Why Is My Hot Water Cloudy: Reasons Your Hot Water is Cloudy White
- Air Bubbles
To understand the most common cause of cloudy water, we will take you back to science class.
Hot water expands.
Since hot water expands, the larger water molecules capture more gases (hydrogen and oxygen) that become tiny air bubbles and make the water look cloudy.
The water will retract back to its original molecular size and hue after it dispenses from your water fixture and cooled down.
You will experience milky water more often when the temperature gets cold since cold water holds more air than hot water. Some of the air in the cold air is no longer soluble when it gets heated. The milkiness represents the insoluble air originally present in the cold water.
When your hot water has a cloudy appearance due to the gases trapped in larger water molecules, there’s absolutely no danger. The gases are normally present in the air (remember air is made up of the gases hydrogen and oxygen), and we breathe these all of the time.
Watch this video overview of why your hot water is cloudy:
- Clogged Aerator (Faucet)
The aerator in your bathroom or kitchen faucet mixes air with your water to help control water usage without sacrificing water pressure.
When the aerator gets clogged, the contents clogging the aerator can cause the water to get murky.
You will know the aerator is to blame if the cloudy water only occurs from a particular faucet. Aerators are located at the very end of the faucet spout and not deep in your water supply line.
Clean the existing aerator, or change it out. It is easily unscrewed, but use a rag so you don’t damage the finish. See this post for how to remove a recessed aerator.
- Sediment Buildup/Corrosion in Water Heater
Tank-type water heaters are the most common type of water heater due to their cost-effectiveness and effectiveness.
If the tank gets dirty, the material in the tank may get into your hot water.
The two main items that enter your water heater tank are sediment build-up (caused by hard water) and rust from corrosion. While sediment buildup won’t usually cause a health hazard, rust in your drinking water (or water you use for cooking) can cause a problem.
Is Cloudy hot water normal?
In most cases, it’s absolutely normal for water to appear somewhat cloudy as long as there is no discoloration or foul odor.
Is it safe to drink cloudy tap water?
If the water looks and smells completely clean, you’re probably in the clear.
However, if you see the material in the water that indicates debris in your hot water system’s supply lines, consider flushing it out. You should also be wary of discoloration or funky smells coming from the tap. Note, this is different than black stuff coming out of the sink faucet. That has a separate cause, which we write about in that post.
The bottom line is this: You don’t want to drink contaminated water unless you want to face the health hazards that come with it. If you’re unsure of a foreign substance in your water, get a water test kit.
How to Fix Cloudy Tap Water
Water Filtration System/Water Softener
Fix cloudy water at the source by installing a water filtration system at your main water supply. If your home has hard water, consider installing a water softener as well. Some of these are very affordable, like this one.
Clean Your Fixtures
Most people assume that faucets and shower heads only require cleaning on the outside. However, the calcium deposits that get left behind when you use hot water can accumulate in your fixtures as well.
About once a year, you should deep clean your fixtures to keep them as clean as possible. Remove the fixtures and clean them inside and out. See this article on how to remove calcium deposits.
Over time, you may want to install a new shower head.
Flush Your Hot Water Heater
Flush your water heater to remove gunk and debris from the tank.
In order to flush your water heater, simply open the drain valve to empty the full tank, fill the tank, and then empty it again. Repeat the process until you notice the cloudiness disappear from the water.
See the video below to learn more:
If you have a tankless water heater, don’t think you’re off the hook. While you don’t have to worry about rust in the tank, tankless water heaters still require annual maintenance to remove sediment buildup. See this article for how to flush a tankless water heater the right way.
For a tankless water heater, you may also want to invest in a special tankless water heater flush kit. These include a pump and bucket to help you do the job yourself instead of calling a plumbing service.
Change the Anode Rod
You should also change the anode rod on a regular basis, especially if you have hard water. What is an anode rod in a water heater? It attracts corrosive materials so that the rod takes on the corrosion instead of the tank itself.
The anode rod should be changed every couple of years, depending on the type of anode rod and the quality of your water. Make sure you install the right anode rod for well water vs. softened water.
Upgrade to a New Hot Water Heater
If you have an old or inefficient water heater, it may be time to replace the unit before it fails.
Consider a tankless water heater, as they are known for saving a lot of space and providing hot water much more efficiently than a conventional water heater. However, the square footage of your home and the number of occupants will play a big role in this decision.
If you plan to still use a tank-style water heater, learn how to size your water heater capacity and then purchase the right unit based on your household demand, power preferences, and special features.
Call Your Public Water Service
In some cases reminiscent of the incident in Flint, Michigan regarding their water quality, the public water system in your area may not provide residents with clean water.
You should have access to water quality in your area thanks to a public annual water quality report.
If you suspect inadequate water in your area, reach out to the local authorities to express your concern.
FAQs: Why is My Hot Water Cloudy?
How do I fix cloudy hot tap water?
To fix cloudy hot tap water coming out of your water pipe, try the following methods:
- Water filter and water softener (no foul smells or additional discoloration)
- Flush your water heater
- Change the anode rod
- Clean individual fixtures
Is Cloudy hot water normal?
Cloudy hot water is normal due to the molecular changes that occur to the water when it gets hot.
However, sometimes, cloudy water may indicate sediment buildup or other materials in your water.
Is it safe to drink cloudy tap water?
In almost all cases, cloudy hot water does not indicate unhealthy water, but in rare instances, cloudy water may be a symptom of dangerous rust or lead levels in your water.
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