Why is my Well Water Cloudy? Well water can be cloudy due to air bubbles, natural gas, sediment in the water, high mineral content in the water, and surface water contaminating the underground supply. Some of these causes do not pose a health risk when drinking water from your well, but you should have the water tested if you have concerns.
Having some experience living a rural lifestyle and relying on natural water supplies rather than municipal piped water has given us some background in well water management.
If you rely on a similar source for water, it is a good idea to become familiar with monitoring the quality of your well water and what steps to take to ensure your health. Our experience in well water can help guide you in checking your own well water supply!
Cloudy well water is a symptom that should be investigated before assuming the water is safe for consumption. To help you determine this, we will cover the following.
- Main causes for cloudy well water
- Which causes for cloudiness have potential health risks
- What to do about cloudy well water
Why is my Well Water cloudy?
Many things can cause cloudy well water, but the most common causes for cloudy well water are air bubbles, methane gas, sediment, hard water and surface water seeping into the well from heavy rains and flooding.
Reasons For Cloudy Well Water
Access to well water is seen by many as a preferred water source to municipal piped water. This preference is usually due to concerns about health issues due to the chemicals used to treat municipal water supplies before it is piped to the home.
While this premise is generally true that well-water is mostly better than tap water, there is no constant monitoring of your well water for purity. This function needs to be provided by your own experience and expertise.
A frequent query by well water users is what causes this underground water to appear cloudy, and is any cause for concern regarding the purity of cloudy water?
Some cloudy water causes are causes of concern, but others can be discounted as a cause for potential health concerns.
One of the main concerns that would raise alarm bells is if your well water was previously clear but has recently become cloudy. The reason should be investigated to rule out any dangerous contaminants.
1. Air Bubbles Making Well Water Cloudy
Small air bubbles can become suspended in the water and give the water a cloudy appearance. This cause of cloudy water is probably the most innocuous of the potential causes of cloudy well water and of the least concern. It is also easy to test if this is the cause of your cloudy water.
Subterranean air pockets can release air bubbles into the underground water. If the bubbles are tiny enough, they remain suspended in the water until it is pumped to the surface.
Tiny bubbles in the water can also be caused by leaking water pumps and pipes that suck air into the system when the water is being pumped from the well. This may signify that you have a failing pump system that should be checked before it fails completely.
Test And Solution For Air Bubbles In Well Water
The easiest way to test if air bubbles cause the cloudiness in your well water is to pour a glass of well water and stand it on your kitchen counter for a few minutes.
The bubbles in suspension will slowly rise to the surface and dissipate. The cloudiness in the water will clear from the bottom of the glass towards the top, eventually leaving a glass of clear water.
A word of warning here is that the bubbles may also be methane gas rather than air, which we will talk about in the next section.
If the cloudiness has appeared recently in your well water and does not disappear over a few days, it may be worth checking your pumping equipment and pipes for potential leaks. This preventative maintenance can fix a problem before the system breaks and leaves you without water.
2. Methane Gas Causing Cloudy Well Water
In some cases, the cloudiness in the water can be caused by methane gas rather than air. Most people associate methane with a rotten egg smell, but this is only when hydrogen sulfide is present, which is not always the case.
Pure methane is odorless, making it difficult to detect on its own. Methane penetrating an underground water supply is not common and has only been recorded in areas where there are underground oil or natural gas deposits.
While the methane does not pose any health risks from consuming the water, it can pose the risk of explosions in your home or water system, especially near electrical connections or outlets or open flames.
Test And Solution For Methane In Well Water
The only safe method for testing for dissolved methane in the water supply is to test a sample professionally.
If you live in a region with oil or natural gas deposits and you are concerned that methane is the cause for your cloudy water, you should have professional water testing done on a sample of your water.
A methane level of 28mg/L in the water requires measures to be taken to dissipate the gas from your water supply before it enters your home.
The solution for methane in the water is to allow the methane to dissipate safely before the water is used. This can be done via a pressure storage tank which has a vent valve allowing the gas to vent safely into the atmosphere.
A second, more efficient, but more expensive option is to install aerators to the inlet of the storage tank to aid with the methane removal.
3. Sediment Causing Cloudy Well Water
Fine particles of minerals or soil can become suspended in the water being pumped from your well, which can present as a cloudiness in the water. This is not necessarily a health risk, depending on the particles in suspensions, but if you have cause for concern, you should have the water tested to prove it is safe for consumption.
Sediment can enter the water from shifting structures underground, or if the pump is situated too close to the bottom of the well and it sucks up sediment settled at the bottom.
Test And Solution For Sediment In Well Water
The test is similar to testing for air and gas, but you will notice a difference in the direction in which the water clears.
Pour a glass of water and stand it on your kitchen counter. Let the glass stand undisturbed for a few minutes. Sediment will begin to settle to the bottom of the glass, and the water will begin to clear from the top down.
Once the water has cleared, you will notice gritty sediment at the bottom of the glass. So what steps can you take to fix this sediment problem in your well water?
The first step is to check the pump is not situated too deep in the well. If this is not the case, you may need to install sediment filters on the pump to limit the grit being pumped into the water supply for your home.
4. Hard Water Causing Cloudy Well Water
Hard water refers to water containing high calcium levels and other mineral deposits. These deposits can present a cloudy aspect in the water but generally do not pose health risks when consumed.
The high mineral content, particularly calcium, is usually found in limestone formations where the underground water is contained. The high mineral content can impart a strange taste to the water and leave deposits in tapes pipes and washing machines which can clog the system.
What To Do About Hard Water Causing Cloudy Well Water
Filters are available that can be fitted to well pumps to reduce the calcium and other dissolved minerals from entering your home water system.
Similar filters can be fitted onto taps, which trap the minerals in the filter when the tap is opened. These filters can be expensive and generally require more frequent replacement than a pump filter.
5. Heavy Surface Rain Causing Cloudy Well Water
Heavy rain above ground can cause many problems for underground water, some of which can be hazardous for your health.
Heavy surface rain can cause water to run into the well before it has had the opportunity to be filtered through the layers of soil and rock. This has the potential to contaminate well water with a variety of problem substances, from fertilizers to overflowing sewage systems.
Any of these substances entering your well water supply can have serious consequences for your health if the water is consumed.
Abnormally wet rainy seasons or heavy storms can cause this type of contamination of underground water supplies. This contamination, especially overflowing sewage systems, can cause the well water to appear cloudy. This cloudiness will not dissipate if the water stands.
What To Do About Surface Water Causing Cloudy Well Water
If your well water turns cloudy after heavy rains or storms, the only safe way to ensure your water supply is not contaminated with toxins is to have it tested.
This type of contamination is common in flooding conditions, and you cannot assume your underground water will be safe. Take a sample of your underground water in a sterile jar and send it to a local lab for professional testing to ensure it is safe from dangerous pathogens.
Most causes for cloudy well water do not pose a risk for your health, but there is no guarantee of this since it depends on the cause of the cloudiness in the water.
If the cause is air bubbles, natural gas, sediment, or mineral deposits, these problems are easily addressed to filter or dissipate the problem.
Surface water contaminating the underground water is the most severe cause for concern for your well water.
What To Do About Cloudy Well Water
If you ever doubt the quality of your well water, have a sample professionally tested. You can buy home testing kits that will test for basic contaminants, but these are not always accurate.
They can, however, give you an indication that a professional test is required.
If any conditions in your area change, it is worth repeating the test on your well water to ensure it is still suitable for use.
Frequently asked Questions (FAQs)
Why is my well water suddenly cloudy?
There are a few reasons why your well water might suddenly become cloudy. One possibility is that there’s been a change in the water table, which can be caused by things like heavy rains or melting snow. If the water table changes, it can cause more sediment to be stirred up and suspended in the water.
Another possibility is that there’s been a change in the well itself. For example, the casing might have cracked, or the well might have been damaged by a storm. If there’s something wrong with the well, it can cause sediment to flow into the water and make it cloudy.
Why is my well water cloudy after it rains?
Well water can become cloudy after it rains for a few reasons. First, if there is any sediment in the well, it can be stirred up by the rain and make the water appear cloudy. Second, rainwater can also add minerals to the water, making it look cloudy. Finally, if your well is located near a agricultural field, the rain can wash pesticides or other chemicals into the water, making it appear cloudy. If your well water is cloudy after it rains, you should contact your local health department to have it professionally tested just to be safe.