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Why does my water look milky?

Image of milky water

Key facts: 

  • Milky water may sound distressing but is completely harmless and safe to drink or use
  • Milky water is often caused by air bubbles in your water supply
  • It should not last long and if it does not clear up within 24-hours, it is advisable to contact a certified plumber or your water supplier.

Have you noticed your water looks milky?

Milky water, also known as cloudy water or white water can be caused by air and water blending together in your residential pipes or main supply. This is often due to a tear in the pipe, which pulls in additional air. When air and water and combine to travel through water pipes, are carried to residents along the supply and flow through taps, pressure is released and tiny air bubbles are formed. These air bubbles are what give water its milky appearance.

All main supplies include a small amount of air but any additional air can enter the supply due to a break in the pipes. Under the pressure, the air dissolves within the water but when you turn on your tap and release the pressure, the air comes out. This like what happens when you open a bottle of any carbonated drink.

What Causes My Water To Look Milky?

The term milky water is used to describe many issues related to your drinking water. As a building’s tap water is fed through plumbing brought in from a mains supply, if a mains supply or pipe external to your residence becomes damaged during the winter or because of an accident, a rupture allows air into the plumbing system.

Other common causes of milky water include:

  • A change in the water pressure
  • A disturbance in the water distribution pipes
  • Sediment from nearby drilling activities

Is Milky Water Safe To Drink or Use?

Although milky water may affect the taste, smell and overall aesthetic of your water, it is safe to drink and use. However, it is important to note that milky water can cause a white scour to form on fixtures. This can be easily removed using vinegar or lemon juice.

What Should You Do?

As white milky should not last longer than 24-hours, the situation should clear up itself. Until then you can:

  • Flush the taps to help your water run clear.
  • Visit a neighbouring residence to find out whether their water is also running milky. If this is the case, contact your water supplier to notify them of the issue.