cloudy water

    Published: March 30, 2016

    Why Does My Water Look Cloudy?

    Tell me if you’ve ever experienced this sci-fi scenario: you go to the kitchen sink for a quick glass of water, turn on the tap, then stare in confusion and horror as your glass fills with cloudy or, dare I say, carbonated water. Then, as you’re trying to figure out what state to move to, the bubbles disappear and you’re left with a seemingly normal glass of tap water and a deep sense of distrust.

    This happens frequently around my house, especially in the wintertime. My husband assures me it’s not something to worry about, but I couldn’t rest until I knew the water my kids were drinking was safe. So I stayed up a few nights ago and did some Internet snooping to find out if this milky, cloudy water was something to be concerned about.

    The first explanation I found made sense, even if I’m not an expert in science. Apparently really cold weather can be the culprit, as the solubility of air in the water in the pipes increases as the temperature outside decreases.

    The cold water holds more air, as the pipes aren’t fully heating the water to normal temperature, and the air escapes as bubbles when you turn on the tap. So far so good, but I found multiple potential causes for the cloudy effect.

    Another way tap water can turn cloudy is if the water pressure is causing air to be sucked into the water supply in the pipes. Now, if you’re like me, you’re probably asking: how does that happen?

    According to Martin Riese, a “water sommelier” (who knew such a position existed?), holes in pipes could be sucking air into the water system. Pressurized water captures and retains the air, which would otherwise filter out when non-pressurized.

    Once the water spurts out of your tap and into your glass, it’s no longer pressurized, so the cloudy look goes away. Without pressure from the pipes, there’s no more milky water.

    But wait a second, let’s go back a bit – holes in the pipes? The water comes in from holes in the pipes? That doesn’t exactly sound safe to me. Reading that immediately set off a red flag in my mom brain.

    And it seems I was right – Riese went on to say that anyone noticing the cloudy phenomenon should contact the water department. The issue seems to be serious enough that repairs would be in order if any such pipes were found.

    So, the final word is that the cloudy look isn’t explicitly safe, but could be indicative of potential problems. While air itself isn’t dangerous, I worry what other contaminants could find their way into my drinking water with “hole-y” pipes.

    To be on the safe side, I installed an NSF-certified countertop water filter so I knew the water my two sons were drinking was properly treated. You can’t put a price on a good night’s sleep knowing my family is drinking safer, cleaner water.