How To Get Rid Of Yellow Tap Water

From using a water filter to replacing rusty old pipes to simply running the tap for a few minutes – there are several simple solutions to get rid of yellow water from the tap.

But how would you know which one works best for your situation? 

The answer lies in detecting the cause. Once you know what’s causing yellow water from the tap, you can take the right action to fix it.

Three glasses on a countertop that contain sediment and water that looks brown or yellow

Reasons Why Your Tap Water Could Be Yellow

Wondering why your tap water is yellow? In this section, I’ll walk you through a few of the most common reasons. 

Corroding Pipes

If your home has old pipes made of lead or iron, you can expect yellow tap water. 

That’s because as the pipes and fixtures get older, they form rust due to oxidation. Rust contains iron and manganese particles. These materials will transform your tap water anywhere in the yellow to orange to brown color spectrum. 

If you notice the water is darker, lead particles or breakaway pieces from gaskets have likely seeped into the water. In the US, some older homes use lead service lines, but only those installed before the Safe Drinking Water Act.

New Source of Water

A new water source could be a reservoir, well, or river. The flow of water from a river or reservoir can affect the color, taste, appearance, odor, and quality of water.

Moreover, iron and manganese are naturally found in rocks and can end up in the tap water when flowing through rivers. 

If a well is the source of the tap water, the water could be yellow because of the presence of tannins that are found naturally in leaves, roots, and other organic matter. Rainwater can carry some of these tannins and make their way into a well, turning tap water yellow.

Many municipal water suppliers use a variety of water sources, and it’s common that they will send impacted addresses a notice before major changes in their water system take place.

Organic Matter 

Organic matter like dirt and debris can settle in the main water supply lines. 

When these are stirred up due to a high-speed flow of water in the case of firefighting or flushing services, they get mixed into the water and appear as cloudy yellow water from the tap.

Water Pollution

When groundwater is polluted with chemicals like pesticides from agricultural lands or oil from the highway, it can be washed away by the rain and make its way to the source supplying water to your home.

Most municipal water suppliers perform regular testing and have methods for removing contaminants, the results of which are published in an annual water report which is publicly available.

Trapped Air

When air is trapped inside water, it can give it a cloudy or milky look.

This is a common phenomenon for homeowners with a water filter installed, especially for a short period of time after the filter is changed.

If you just changed your filter, let the water run through it for 10 minutes to flush out any remaining air that was trapped.

Rust in Hot Water Tank

If you find that yellow water comes only from the hot water tank, then it’s likely that rust has formed in the tank. You can flush the hot water tank using professional services, or if it is rented, you can ask for a replacement. 

Flushing of the Mains

If the city water supply is flushed, the yellow water will come out of the tap before it runs clear. In larger cities, you might expect this to happen every few months when the city water company will flush out the mains free from rust and other sediments. 

Burst or Leaked Pipes

Due to physical damage or corrosion, the water pipes in the mains or your home can burst or leak. The telltale sign of a leaked pipe is the low water pressure. The water mixes with debris, and you may get yellow water from the tap. 

How to Fix Yellow Tap Water

The first step to fixing yellow or cloudy tap water is to identify the source. The great news is the source is either the city supply or your home’s plumbing system. That’s only 2 things, so narrowing it down isn’t difficult. If you’re using a well, then problem ID may be slightly more involved. In either case, follow these simple steps to fix yellow tap water.

1. Identify the Cause

There are several ways to identify what’s causing tap water to turn yellow. Until you know what’s causing yellow water in your tap, avoid drinking it or using it for any other purpose.

Run The Tap For A Few Minutes

First, turn on the tap for several minutes. If the water runs clear after a few minutes, it could be your home’s plumbing system. Call professional plumbing services to identify what caused the yellow tap water in your home. 

If the water does not run clear after a few minutes, it will likely affect the city’s main water supplies. 

Contact Your Neighbors

Talk to your neighbors to find out if they face the same problem. 

If they do, then something’s wrong with the city water supply. If they don’t, you should call plumbing services to check the pipes in your home. 

Call The Local Water Authority

If it seems that the water discoloration is not within your home but rather in the neighborhood, it’s time to call the local water company. Ask them if a change in the water source or some other cause is to blame for the yellow water from the tap.

You can also ask for the utility company’s latest safe water drinking report. It should be publicly available. You can also find out where the water is sourced that is used at your address, whether it is groundwater or surface water.

Check For Marshlands Around Your Home

It’s common to have yellow tap water in the New England, Northwest, Southeast, and Great Lakes locations of the US where there are marshlands. If you have just moved to one of these areas, the tap water can be yellow due to the water moving through peat soils that contain tannins.

Check If The Tap Water Is Yellowish or Greenish

Yellowish water is usually harmless to drink, but if it is greenish, it might be from the copper in the corroded pipes of your home. Drinking greenish water with copper particles is a health hazard.

Call professional plumbing services for help and drink bottled water until your home’s pipes are replaced.

2. Replace Old Pipes

If rusty old pipes have been the cause of yellow tap water in your home, simply have them replaced. 

Use Professional Plumbing Services

Call professional services to replace rusty pipes in your home to remove yellow water from the tap. If you don’t have enough experience with the job, avoid DIY-ing. 

Replacing rusty pipes on your own can be dangerous and more expensive in the long run. 

Choose Services With Good Reviews

Get help from professional plumbers with good reviews and reputations. Contact a few of them to get several perspectives on the problem and the best solutions. 

Only experts will be able to pinpoint the cause of the problem and suggest the best way forward. 

Check With Your Insurance And Home Warranty Company

Contact your home warranty or insurance company to see if the cost of pipe replacement is covered.

3. Use A Water Filter

In many cases, using a water filter is the best way to fix yellow tap water problems. Here are some simple steps for doing so. 

Determine Your Points Of Use

For many homes, the main issue with yellow or cloudy water is mostly aesthetic. We all want water that looks, smells, and tastes good.

In some cases, where the problem is incredibly off-putting, the look and smell of the water may make showering or brushing teeth unpleasant as well.

Whatever the case, think about the water outlets in and around your home where you want the water to be clear. Likewise, label those where the color of the water doesn’t impact your happiness.

Pick A Filter Modality That Fits Your Situation

For most people, drinking water at the kitchen sink is the most important outlet to have clear water. We’ve found that under-sink carbon filters are incredibly efficient and effective in clearing yellow water.

Under-sink filters aren’t as cost-effective as water pitcher filters, but the convenience of on-demand clean water can’t be beaten.

If your home has the classic sulfury swamp water smell, then you may consider a whole-house filter instead. 

Water Filters to Eliminate Odor

Basic water filters with a charcoal component can rule out any unpleasant odor, bacteria, sediments, and debris. However, they do not get rid of viruses. 

Get a basic water filter if the taste in the water is bothering you, or if you know there is rust and other deposits in the supply lines. 

Water Filters to Eliminate Viruses

If you want to eliminate viruses in your tap water, you should get an advanced water filtration system that uses purifiers. Such purifiers get rid of debris, sediments, viruses, and other microorganisms that could cause illnesses. 

Mind you, these purifiers leave behind a residual taste.


Is yellow tap water safe to drink?

Although yellow tap water is safe to drink, it’s better to avoid it until you discover the root cause. Drink bottled water instead.

Is it OK to shower in yellow water?

It is okay to shower in yellow water but try to avoid doing so until you know the reason why tap water is yellow. 

Will yellow tap water go away?

Sometimes, yellow tap water can go away on its own if you leave the tap open for a few minutes. But if the problem persists, you should contact your local water supplier or a plumber who can provide long-term solutions.