Why is my hot water cloudy? Is it time to Worry?

Why is my hot water cloudy

Hot water from faucets can sometimes have a milky or cloudy appearance. These are the tiny air bubbles from the hot water causing agitation in the water. Since hot air rises, leaving the cloudy hot water out on the counter for a few minutes will draw out the air bubbles and clear the water out.

Milky water is not an ideal sight when you expect water to be water and be transparent. Knowing the reason behind this natural reaction eases your nerves and satisfies your curiosity.

Knowing whether your hot water is always cloudy or only now seems cloudy can reveal different causes of this strange spectacle. A cloudy, warm glass of water could signify pipes or aerators that need attention.

Why is my hot water cloudy?

In most scenarios, cloudy hot water is just a signifier of excess gas in the water. When hot water starts flowing out from the hot water heater, there is a reduction in pressure that causes the hydrogen and oxygen in the water to expand and trap other gases in the water. Eventually these gases will escape back into the air and the water will appear transparent.

What Causes Cloudy Hot Water?

Extra Gases

In most scenarios, cloudy water is just a signifier of excess gas in the water. When hot water starts flowing out from the hot water heater, there is a reduction in pressure that causes the hydrogen and oxygen in the water to expand and trap other gases in the water.

The water should settle back down to being transparent. There shouldn’t be any impurities visible when the water settles.

This is just trapped air trying to escape out into the atmosphere. The pressure increase in your water lines could be the reason for this agitation, and you really shouldn’t be concerned. The increase in pressure could also be an adjustment in the district water pressure.

If the issue is more consistent and aesthetics are bothersome, installing a pressure valve in the water hot water line from the water heater should help address this concern.

Sediment Build-up

The airy hot water could signify that your hot water tank needs to be flushed and cleaned. If you notice tiny impurities in hot water after all the air escapes, this is a more evident sign that the water tank has collected sediment.

Sediment built up in your water heating system will make the water heating unit less efficient and require it to use more energy for the same output of hot water. This inefficiency will also start to dent your wallet.

Does The Water Hardness Affect The Water?

Most states have raw water that is just naturally higher in hardness. Thus, hot water with a higher hardness may appear cloudier than softened hot water. Sometimes hard water that appears foggy may not clear like soft water. This is only because of the higher mineral count in the water.

How To Troubleshoot Bigger Issues From Cloudy Hot Water

Troubleshooting whether your hot water is cloudy because of pressure or a plumbing issue is beneficial and quick.

Diagnosing an ailing water heater is cheaper for everyone in the long run. To properly diagnose the origin of this cloudiness, run cold water into a clear glass from a couple of faucets around the house.

If most of these faucets produce cloudy water, the problem is pressurized district water. This same pressurized water runs into your water tank and is hot and cloudy. The water should clear bottom-up, and the issue should resolve itself in a day. If the water doesn’t clear, this could be a system leak.

If the water from just one faucet comes out cloudy, the aerator might require cleaning. Clean the aerator with a 50-50 vinegar to water solution and then wash it out and reinstall it.

If the water clears top-down and some particles settle at the bottom of the glass, there might be an issue with the water heater. The heating tank may need to be flushed, or the unit may need a new dip tube.

How Do You Remove Excess Air In Hot Water?

As we have established that air or gas can cloud your hot water, it can be helpful to know how to remove these extra air bubbles. An elevated level of air in the lines can cause rust in your water pipes; this rust can lead to leaks, lower water pressures, or clogged pipes.

If the hot water doesn’t clear up in a day or so, then it may be necessary to know how to reduce the extra gas bubbles in the water.

Release the pressure

If this issue occurred just after your return from vacation when you had the hot water tank turned off for a long time, just let it run, and it will stabilize itself.

If vacation wasn’t the cause, then depressurizing the water tank can help quickly resolve the issue. Release the air by opening the relief valve. This may also be an excellent time to check whether your relief valve needs to be replaced.

Following your hot water pipes from the water heating tank and looking for leaks can be another quick check to see if the water pressure could be the issue.

Flushing your hot water heater

If the water is still cloudy, it may be necessary to flush your hot water heater. You can do so by following these steps:

Flushing Gas or Electric Water Heater

1. Shut off power to the water heater: If you have an electric water heater, turn off the power at the circuit breaker or fuse box. For a gas water heater, turn off the unit at the gas valve.

2. Drain the tank and then attach a garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the water heater. Route the hose to a drain or outside. Open the pressure relief valve and then open the drain valve to let water out until it runs clear.

3. Flush the tank: Close the drain valve and fill the tank with freshwater. Open all the hot water faucets in your home and let the water run until it’s clear.

4. Turn the power back on: For an electric water heater, flip the circuit breaker back on or replace the fuse. Turn the gas valve to the “on” position for a gas water heater.

5. Relight the pilot light: If your water heater has a pilot light, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to relight it.

6. Check the anode rod: The anode rod helps prevent corrosion in the tank. If it’s corroded, replace it.

Flushing Tankless Water Heater

If you have a tankless water heater, you can flush it by running a vinegar solution through it.

1. Turn off the power: Flip the circuit breaker or fuse box to the “off” position. Turn the knob to the “pilot” position for a gas water heater.

2. Disconnect the water supply: Turn off the cold water supply valve that feeds into the unit.

3. Run the vinegar solution through the unit: Pour a 50-50 vinegar and water solution into the cold water inlet. Turn on the hot water faucet and let the mixture run through until it comes out clear.

4. Flush the unit with water: Turn the cold water supply back on and let freshwater run through the unit until it comes out clear.

5. Turn the power back on: Flip the circuit breaker to the “on” position for an electric water heater. Turn the knob to the “on” position for a gas water heater and relight the pilot light according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Check the Aerator

If you still have cloudy water, then the aerator on your fixtures might need to be cleaned. The aerator is a small screen that helps remove sediment and other particles from your water as it comes out of the faucet.

Over time you could end up with a clogged aerator full of minerals, dirt, and other build-up, which will restrict the water flow and cause it to become cloudy.

To clean the aerator, remove it from the faucet and soak it in a 50-50 solution of vinegar and water for 30 minutes.

After soaking, use a toothbrush or other small brush to remove any remaining build-up. Rinse the aerator well with water and reattach it to the faucet.

A dirty aerator is never a good thing, especially if you consume water directly from those faucets.

Install a water softener

If you have hard water causing cloudiness, then installing a water softener can help reduce the number of minerals in your water, which will help to keep it from becoming cloudy.

A water softener works by exchanging the minerals in your water for sodium ions. This process is known as ion exchange.

There are two types of water softeners: salt-based and salt-free. A salt-based water softener uses sodium to exchange with the minerals in your water. In contrast, a salt-free water softener uses reverse osmosis to remove the minerals from your water.

Both types of water softeners will help reduce the number of minerals in your water and keep it from becoming cloudy.

Is Cloudy Hot Water Safe?

Cloudy water should be safe to use and drink, primarily if you have worked out the cause of this issue. If you believe the reason to be because of pressure or air in the water, then the water should be safe to consume.

However, if the water has some sediments that settle at the base of your drinking glass, then you should probably avoid drinking the water. These impurities could be several unhealthy particles.

If they are not a mineral scale build-up from hard water in the water heating tank, they could be rust from the unit.

Our bodies need zinc and iron nutrients, but you should not be getting them from physical deposits in your water.

Knowing the source of your water can also help in determining whether the water is safe to use or not. Municipal water that is cloudy because of a fluctuation in pressure because of plumbing maintenance is still perfectly safe.

The only source that is of concern is a private well. If you notice cloudiness from hot water drawn from your well, checking your well for any contamination might be prudent. Especially if the fault is not with any of the other causes we have already listed, you can get your well tested and treated accordingly.

If you notice minerals not originating from scale collection in your hot water system, installing a sediment filter can also help. Even with these tiny particles, the water shouldn’t be deadly when ingested, but a filter is advised.


There are many reasons your hot water might be cloudy. In most cases, it’s not anything to worry about and can be easily fixed.

However, if you’re on a private well, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and have your water checked for contamination.

If you can’t rectify the problem and have any concerns about your drinking water quality, don’t hesitate to contact your local water authority. They will be able to test your water and give you specific instructions on how to improve its quality.

The H2Home Lab team is dedicated to helping you find the best solutions to your specific water needs, as well as provide troubleshooting tips and guides for water filtration, heating, softening and plumbing. We hope you will find the info you need on our site from any one of our buying guides or subject matter articles.

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