Cloudy Well Water (4 Common Causes & Solutions)

Cloudy well water can be a big inconvenience. If your well’s water is cloudy, it might not look very appealing to drink, and you may notice that there are particles floating around in the water or settling at the bottom of your glass.

Cloudy well water isn’t dangerous, but it’s certainly not pleasant to deal with every day. Fortunately, there are several treatment solutions that can help clear up your cloudy well water. First, however, you need to understand why your well water is cloudy, so you can tackle the cause.

🥛 Why is My Well Water Cloudy?

There are several common causes of cloudy well water:

Air Bubbles or Dissolved Gases

If you have air bubbles or dissolved gases in your private well water, they can cause the water supply to look cloudy.

Dissolved gases usually only occur in small amounts. If you see a lot of air bubbles, then there may be something wrong with the condition of your well. For instance, if your well water level drops too low, the well pump may send air and water into your home.

A water filtration system can produce air bubbles if it’s just been installed, so air bubbles in your water aren’t always a cause for alarm.

Usually, cloudy water is safe to drink if it’s caused by air bubbles, but it’s still worth conducting water testing to see if your well is leaking or checking if you have any equipment that could be causing the problem.

Dissolved gas is a more dangerous issue. Methane is a common gas that gets into private wells, and, while this gas is safe in small amounts, it poses an explosion risk in large quantities.

cloudy water air bubbles
Source: Massachusetts Water Resources Authority

High Levels of Sediment

A lot of sediment in your well water could make the water cloudy. Sediment particles include:

  • Clay
  • Silt
  • Iron bacteria
  • Sand
  • Rock particles

Sediment can also settle to the bottom of your glass and leave a noticeable ring. Generally, sediment in water is safe, but it can indicate that your private well is contaminated with more dangerous contaminants, like bacteria, so water testing is recommended.

water testing with tap score

Excess Iron or Manganese

If your well water is cloudy with a reddish-brown tint, there may be excess iron or manganese in it.

Iron and manganese can leave stains on your clothing, dishes, and fixtures that are difficult to remove without the right treatment equipment.

Iron bacteria is another cause of cloudiness that can also leave behind red or black sediment, with a more sludge-like consistency.

Surface Water Entering the Well

If you live near a creek, river, or pond, and heavy rains cause flooding in your area, it can flush surface water into your well. The particles in this surface water cause cloudiness.

flooding river

💦 How to Clear Up Cloudy Well Water

To clear up cloudy well water, take these steps in order, starting with the quickest and easiest methods:

1) Clear the Air

In the case of cloudiness caused by excess air, you’ll need to clear up the air bubbles from your pipes.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Turn off your main water supply valve.
  2. Turn on all faucets and outside taps that draw from the same source as your well. Allow a small amount of air to escape – don’t turn the faucets on full force.
  3. Turn your water supply back on and leave the faucets to run for up to 15 minutes.

2) Install a Sediment Filter

If sediment is the cause of your cloudy water, you need a sediment filter.

A sediment filter is installed at your home’s point of entry, intercepting your water supply before your heater. This kind of filter can trap sediment particles and prevent them from causing cloudiness or clogging up your plumbing.

sediment water filter

3) Test Your Water

If steps 1 and 2 don’t solve your cloudy tap water issue, you should test your water to determine the cause of the cloudiness.

Most likely, you have high levels of iron or manganese in your well – but you won’t know until you test. You can buy a home test kit at most hardware stores for this purpose.

If the cause is something other than sediment, water testing will point you in the right direction, giving you the information you need to buy the right equipment to treat the problem.

water testing with tap score

4) Identify a Treatment Solution

Once you have the results from your testing, you can identify the right treatment solution to remove the contaminants that are responsible for cloudiness in your water.

The right solution will depend on the cause of your cloudiness.

If you have high levels of iron or manganese in your water, install a system with an iron filter.

You can also get air injection systems to help get rid of excess gas bubbles.

If surface water has entered your well, you need to find a solution that prevents it from happening again. You might need to find a new well location or install a waterproofing system around your well.

💬 Frequently Asked Questions

How do I prevent cloudy well water in the future?

If you remove the cause of your cloudiness, your drinking water should stay clear.

Follow the tips above to tackle the problem, either with a filtration system or a waterproofing system, to prevent contaminants from affecting the tap water supply in your home.

Can cloudy well water cause damage to appliances?

Yes, cloudy well water can damage the components of your appliances, especially if sediment is present. It can also clog up piping and reduce the flow rate of tap water into your home.

Can cloudy well water be dangerous?

Cloudy well water can contain contaminants that are harmful to your health. Iron bacteria, for example, can produce toxins that could make you sick if they enter your drinking water.

Why does well water get cloudy when it rains?

Heavy rains can flood wells and push surface water into them. This could cause cloudiness and other problems, such as mineral deposits.

How long does it take to clear cloudy water?

It depends on the cause of the cloudiness.

If it’s due to iron bacteria, you should have clear water within three days after starting treatment.

If the cause is sediment, you’ll need to run your water for several hours or, in some cases, overnight to remove the cloudiness.

How do I get rid of cloudy water in my RV?

Cloudy RV water could be caused by your water supply. Campsite water isn’t usually the cleanest, and could contain sediment and other impurities. Air bubbles could also cause cloudiness in your RV’s drinking water.

You can get rid of cloudiness in your RV water by testing your water and using a filtration solution based on your results.

What causes milky well water?

Milkiness is caused by finely divided dirt and sediment suspended in the water.

This can come from well construction, but also occurs after heavy rains or floods.

Water filtration systems can help make the water clear again, but you’ll probably need to drain and refill your well.

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