Possible Causes of Utah Well Water Discoloration

There are a few things no one wants to see when they turn on a water tap in their home, and one item that’s at or near the top of any such list is discolored water. Healthy water is clean and clear — while an unusual color to your water isn’t always a sign of a health issue or some related concern, it often will be. 

At Mike Zimmerman Well Service LLC, we’re proud to offer several services that will ensure high well water quality for any of our Utah clients, from water well inspections through well repairs, tune-ups and more. What are some of the discoloration formats that are possible within a water well supply, and what are these likely telling you about the quality of your water? Here’s a primer, plus what you can do about each of these issues.

causes well water discoloration

General Discoloration

Generally speaking, there are a number of reasons why your water might be discolored if it comes from a well. A change in the color of your water could be indicative of a particular issue that you’ll want to investigate and address as soon as possible.

In any of these situations, an easy remedy like a whole-house filtration system or water softener will be all that’s needed to ensure your water is clean, clear and healthy for use in any capacity. In others, though, your well itself may require some attention before the discoloration goes away.

Let’s look at some of the most common forms of discoloration that may be seen in a well over time, plus what they mean and what to do about them.

Black Well Water

There are a few reasons why well water may be black or contain a major quantity of black specks, and perhaps the most common is the presence of magnesium in the water. If you have black well water, it’s likely due to a process called “black water treatment” in which magnesium is added to the water in order to make it harder.

If your water was recently treated with magnesium, give it some time to clear up on its own. In other cases, you may need to flush your water lines to clear them of the black water.

Another potential reason for black well water is the presence of iron in the water, which can react with oxygen to cause a rusty-looking coloration. This is usually seen as reddish brown rather than true black, but it may appear black in some cases.

Iron is common in Utah water supplies and is generally not harmful in small quantities, but it can stain sinks, tubs and other fixtures over time. If your water has a high iron content, you’ll likely need to install a water softener to remove it from the water.

Various “Rusty” Well Water Colors

There are a number of colors that may give you water a “rusty” tinge, including brown, red, orange or even yellow water. And while there can be a few causes here, the single most common is — you guessed it — actually rust.

Rust may be found in your water lines, in your well pump or even in the well itself. In some cases, it may also be coming from your hot water heater if it’s beginning to corrode on the inside.

If you have rusty water, flush your water lines to see if that clears up the issue. If not, you’ll likely need to call a professional to take a look at your well and water lines to determine the source of the rust.

Now, there are cases where water that’s turned one of these colors actually isn’t due to rust. For instance, high levels of iron or manganese in your water can cause a reddish tinge, while water with high sediment levels may look more brown than anything else.

If you’re unsure what’s causing the coloration in your water, have it tested by a professional to be sure.

Green or Blue Well Water

While corrosion in plumbing pipes will more commonly lead to the “rusty” colors we went over above, certain forms of copper piping corrosion can actually turn your water green or blue. If you have this problem, the piping in your home will need to be replaced with a different material that doesn’t corrode as easily. In some cases, you may also need to treat your water with a chemical like chlorine or chloramine to inhibit corrosion and keep the blue or green color away.

In other situations, this color may be caused from leaching from bronze alloys found in certain plumbing or well pump components. It’s also possible for algal growth to cause this color, particularly in surface water sources like lakes or rivers.

Milky White or Cloudy Water

Finally, milky-white or cloudy water is most commonly due to air that’s trapped in your water supply — and will usually clear itself up in a day or two without any action on your part.

If the cloudiness doesn’t go away or is accompanied by a drop in water pressure, however, you may have a more serious problem like sediment buildup in your well or water lines. In this case, you’ll need to consult with a professional to determine the best way to clear your water lines and restore normal pressure.

Discolored water can often be a cause for concern, but it’s important to remember that not all such colors indicate a serious problem. In many cases, you may be able to clear up the discoloration on your own — but if you’re unsure of what’s causing the color, contact our team for assistance.

For more on this theme, or to learn about any of our water well drilling or additional services in Utah, contact the pros at Mike Zimmerman Well Service LLC today.