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Why does my water look yellow?

Image of yellow water

Key facts: 

  • If your water looks yellow, this is likely caused by small amounts of rust in your water supply
  • Yellow water is completely safe to drink 
  • A water filter can solve this issue, but it is advisable to investigate where the issue is coming from

Have you noticed your water looks yellow?

Yellow water is mostly caused by small amounts of rust. It sounds worse than it is. In fact, there’s plenty of small amounts of iron and oxygen in our water systems, and when these combine you often are left with a yellow tinge to your water.

What Causes My Water To Look Yellow?

Red, orange and yellow are all colours associated with rust contaminated water supply and health issues caused by this are very rare. The colours indicate various forms of rust found in the piping throughout the building. Oxidation can also be carried in from outside and lay in the piping till a faucet is opened. City water works usually flush supply lines periodically to release any sediment built up in the lines. If staining occurs on your faucets or sinks avoiding using bleach to clean. This has the effect of embedding the stain and causing it to be permanent.

There is however one big concern with yellow colored water. The real problem comes into play when this sediment remains in the lines and attaches itself to the inner walls of the plumbing. It can cause the linings to degrade and failures to occur. Pressurised with water, the pipes fail and leaks can creak into your building’s plumbing.

Is Yellow Water Safe To Drink or Use?

White, cloudy or milky water is perfectly safe to drink or use and is not harmful.

What Should You Do?

1. Find the source

If the city is the source of the problem, then a filter is all you can do. If your source is local, then a plumber should be called out to assess the cost and methods involved to remove and replace the affected piping.

2. Deal with the types of rust

Ferric imbalances can be treated with filters in line with your water supply. Ferric based contamination means the iron is in a large flaky form and can be trapped by a filter material. 2 micron is recommended for this application and can treat many thousand litres. Ferrous iron contamination is the most difficult to deal with as it comes from a variety of sources and each have their own individual method of elimination that is dependent on conditions. An ionic exchange programme can be setup with the goal of separating the iron and other minerals such as calcium and magnesium by charging the water with an electrical field that repels the minerals at the molecular level and, with varying effectiveness, remove these minerals from the water.

3. Carry out the maintenance

Cleaning and replacing filters is usually the most work needed to keep your water supply in tip top shape. Follow your manufacturer guidelines and ask a plumber to inspect your property every few years.