What does yellow or rusty water mean?

October 12th, 2021

In Quebec, we are privileged to have access to clean drinking water and we are used to seeing clear water flowing from our taps. However, there are times when the water is a little less clear, cloudy, discolored or even has a rusty color. You may wonder why your tap water is yellowish or rusty. Is it safe to drink? Can I use this water for laundry? And the most important question, what can I do to prevent yellow tap water? The following article will give you information on what makes your water yellow or rusty and how to identify the problem and what can be done about it.

Causes of yellow tap water

Discolored or yellowish tap water is most often caused by rust particles in the water. This is not a serious concern since although it is not pleasant to look at, these traces of rust in the water do not pose a health threat. This water is safe to drink. If your water comes from a well, there may be other causes for this yellow tint. The water may contain organic material. Decaying vegetation or an accumulation of iron and manganese can give your water that yellow tint. In this situation, homeowners who rely on well water should work closely with water experts.

Find the source

If you are concerned about the color of your water and it is coming from the municipal supply, it is still important to find the source. It could be the municipal water supply, it could be your indoor plumbing and fixtures or it could be your water heater tank. It is then necessary to proceed by elimination to identify the cause.

The municipal supply

Municipal pipes are flushed every few months to help remove any rust build-up. It is common for the water to absorb some of the particles. The staining usually disappears as quickly as it started.

The hot water tank

Rust can build up in your hot water tank and could be a sign that it’s time for maintenance, repairs or even replacement. You’ll quickly know if the hot water tank is at fault if the water is yellow only when you turn the hot water faucet.

The faucet

If you’ve ruled out all the causes, the problem is probably in your faucet. This is probably a sign that your pipes are rusty. A sure sign that your pipes are rusty is when the water comes out yellow or rust-tinged when you first turn on your cold water faucet and the water turns clear after a few seconds.

If you are concerned about the color of your water, don’t hesitate to talk to a plumber. He or she will be able to find the problem and fix it.