Cloudy Tap Water: Why Does Tap Water Look Cloudy & What You Need To Know


White, milky or cloudy water from your tap occurs when the air trapped inside water pipes turn into tiny air bubbles. As water in pipes is pressurised, and pressurised water holds more air, it’s common for tiny air bubbles to form. Once you fill a glass, jug or container with water and let it sit for 10 minutes, it should become clear as the air bubbles rise to the top and escape.

If cloudy water is coming out of all taps, it’s most likely due to planned maintenance on the water supply network or during emergency repairs to fix a fault in the network. Checking your local outages map will help determine if there’s any maintenance or emergencies happening near you. If the water doesn’t clear, make sure to contact your local water supplier for assistance. 

However, if cloudy water is only coming from one tap, it usually means there’s a problem with the connecting water pipes. Cloudy hot water can also be a sign there’s an issue with your hot water system.

If you notice either of these issues, you should contact your local plumber.


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Three Reasons Hot Water Can Be Cloudy

While there are two general reasons your cold water may be cloudy, determining why you have cloudy hot can be a little more complex. There’s no need to panic though, the following are three possible explanations:

  1. Dirty aerator – the mesh cap placed on the end of your tap to stop excessive splashing can sometimes build up a layer of minerals. This build-up increases the water pressure coming out which creates a cloudy look. To test this, simply unscrew the aerator and clean with a half vinegar, half water solution then rinse before reinstalling.
  2. Heating up the water – water bonds easily with minerals and other gases, trapping them inside. As cold water can hold more dissolved oxygen than hot water, when it’s heated the molecules expand and try to escape. This process creates cloudy looking water as it forces the oxygen to bubble out of the water as quickly as possible.
  3. Sediment build-up – sediment in your hot water is most likely due to the build-up of minerals in your hot water system, especially if you have hard water. If an excessive amount of sediment builds up, it can travel through your plumbing and cause cloudy water. To test this, fill a glass with hot water and watch the way it clears. If it clears from the bottom up, it’s caused by the release of pressurised air. However, if it clears at the top first and particles settle at the bottom, it’s probably caused by sediment. If there’s sediment in your water, avoid drinking it and get your hot water system checked.

Woman Drinking Water


Cloudy Water and If You Should Drink It 

Cloudy water caused by the release of pressurised air is completely harmless and safe to drink once the air bubbles have cleared. However, if your water is cloudy as well as brown, yellow or green, it can be harmful to your health and is best to avoid drinking it.


Water Quality and Why It’s Important

Water quality is an essential part of managing catchment areas. In Australia, water quality is managed by state, territory and local governments through the National Water Quality Management Strategy and the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. Sustaining, and where necessary improving, the quality of waterways means we are able to access safe drinking water, protect and enjoy our natural environment, and support industries dependent on water.


Important Points to Remember

  • Cloudy water is usually caused by the release of pressurised air
  • Cloudy water should clear after sitting for 10 minutes and if it does, it’s safe to drink
  • Avoid drinking cloudy water if particles settle at the bottom of a glass and/or it’s brown, yellow or green in colour

Hunter Plumbing can help if your water quality or supply is worrying you – contact us via our booking form for a consultation or call us on 0411 575 312. We’re available 24 hours a day, any day of the week!