Signs of Water Contamination

You do not often think about what could be lurking in your water when you turn the tap on. Depending on where your water comes from and the condition of your plumbing, water contamination may be a real problem that needs to be addressed in your home or office. Waterborne pathogens can cause an array of diseases. Some are very serious and life-threatening, including Botulism and Cholera.

In this blog, we will discuss a few signs that you should investigate for water contamination.

Cloudy Water

If the water in your glass comes out looking closer to milk than water, it could be a sign of water contamination. Sometimes it is just trapped air which goes away if you let the water sit for a minute. Other times, the cloudiness may indicate the water contains chemicals or pathogens that are dangerous to drink. Water delivery pipes may also be carrying sediment which is also bad for your health. Hard water may also cause cloudiness.

Hard Water

You can tell if you have hard water in several ways. The laundry will be harder to clean. It will usually be stained or worn out after washing. Hard water can leave your hair and skin feeling dry after a shower. It can also present itself as a slimy feeling when washing your hands. Hard water is a build-up of minerals in your water supply. This often includes calcium and magnesium. Hard water is not always dangerous but is inconvenient form of water contamination in most homes. If your bath or sink is stained brown, it is probably coming from your pipes.

Strange Colors

Water should be clear. If it comes out of your plumbing with any other notable color, your water has been contaminated. Yellow could indicate a contamination of iron, manganese, copper, or lead. Orange and Brown can signal the same water contamination with the addition of rust. Green or blue water may have high levels of copper transferred from pipes. These types of water contamination can cause health problems and organ damage.


Treated water should not smell like anything. Water is treated with chlorine to kill any harmful bacteria that can make you sick and cause your water to smell. Some chlorine is good, but in excess, it can also be bad for you. If your water smells like bleach, you have a problem. There is most likely too much chlorine. Sometimes, when the chlorine mixes with organic material it can react and create dangerous byproducts.

If the water smells like rotten eggs, it most likely contains hydrogen sulfide. This is dangerous to consume and may cause diarrhea and dehydration. It could also smell fishy, as in it smells like actual fish. Water contamination that may cause a fish smell include barium or cadmium. These get into your water through drilling or industrial waste. There may also be a musty smell. It can smell like your water came from a lake or smell like mildew This is indicative of algae in the water supply.


If your water tastes funny, it is time to investigate. A metallic taste can signify iron, manganese, zinc, copper, or lead transferred from your pipes. The problem could be occurring in your pipes or your water heater. If only your hot water tastes metallic it is most likely the water heater. If cold water tastes metallic then you probably have rusty pipes.

At Valley Fire Protection & Plumbing, we can help you with any problems you have with your pipes or installing filtration options. If your home or office needs a plumber, give us a call!

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By: Tom Hartel
I acquired my expertise by directing day-to-day operations of the business for over 20 years. Continuous hard work helped me become a nationally recognized speaker and expert on fire protection, fire sprinklers, special hazards, and plumbing systems. In this blog, I share my knowledge that will hopefully help you make better decisions for your projects.


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