When you turn on your faucet, you probably expect the water that comes out to be clean and clear; however, sometimes that is not the case. At Shiloh Water Systems, we have been installing water filters and water softening systems in Oregon homes for more than a decade. We are very familiar with the many different kinds of water contaminants. We have written this guide to help you understand what might be causing your water to change color.
If your water appears brown, red, orange or yellow when it comes out of your tap, then chances are that rust is the culprit. Portland uses an unfiltered water system, which means that a fine layer of sediment is present at the bottom of our water mains. Changes to the water system caused by construction or the use of a fire hydrant can stir up that layer of sediment. If this is the case, then your water will return to normal after a few hours. While rusty water isnâ€™t a health threat, it can stain your laundry and damage your hot water heater, so avoid those activities when your water is discolored.
In cooler climates, the most common cause of green discolored tap water is copper plumbing corrosion. If this is happening, the water will usually have a bluish-green tint and/or will leave a bluish-green stain on porcelain if the water drips from a faucet. Copper corrosion is caused by numerous things, but is chiefly caused by your electrical system being grounded to your water pipes. Corrosion is especially common if you have a mixture of pipe material (e.g., some copper and some galvanized steel). Green water may also be present in homes with copper plumbing that is less than two years old. The presence of copper can be confirmed by testing your water for contaminants. If your water appears green in warmer weather, it may be caused by the presence of algae found in reservoirs or rivers. Algae are single celled plants that are found in bodies of fresh water, and are perfectly harmless, but some algae can produce toxins which may have an affect on some people’s health. The recent cyanobacteria outbreak in Salem Oregon is one example. Most water sources are monitored and managed so that the growth of the algae is not prominent enough to discolor the water, and will be removed via filtration. Green water can also be caused by dezincification of poor-quality bronze alloys found in valves, water pumps, and water pump parts. This problem can occur in high-rise buildings and large industrial properties where the water is pumped to storage tanks. The water may also need to be tested for zinc.
Having blue water is incredibly rare. Blue water is typically caused, in very extreme cases, by copper plumbing corrosion. If copper corrosion is taking place, the water will usually have a bluish-green tint and/or will leave a bluish-green stain on porcelain if the water drips from a faucet.
If your water looks milky or cloudy when it pours out of your faucet, then it typically means that your water is aerated. After a few minutes the air will be released from the water and it will return to its normal clarity. If you notice that the cloudiness does not go away after a few minutes, it is probably a sign of something more serious. If your water is any other color than the ones we listed, then you should avoid drinking it and call a water quality expert. You are better safe than sorry when it comes to drinking strange-colored water from your tap.
Water Testing in Oregon
At Shiloh Water Systems, we provide free water testing in Oregon. If you suspect your water is contaminated, we can send out one of our professionals to determine the extent of the contamination.