Dirty Tap Water - Causes And Cures

16 September 2015
 Categories: , Blog


The last thing you want to see when you turn on the cold water tap to fill a glass of water is a murky liquid full of black specks.  But why does this happen, is the water dangerous to your health, and how can you solve the problem?  Read on to find out more.

Cloudy water

Sometimes, you turn on the tap and the water that comes out is brown and cloudy.  The cloudiness is caused by silt and sand particles suspended in the water, and it's usually the result of a problem with the actual water main itself, rather than in your domestic plumbing system.

Don't drink the water – it could contain harmful bacteria!  Contact your local council to find out if they're already aware that there's an issue, and while you're waiting for it to be resolved, use bottled water instead.  Once the problem has been sorted out, you'll need to run your water for a few minutes to flush out any residual dirt.  The water should then run clean again and will be safe for normal use.

Black flecks in the water

Carbon or metals

If you notice tiny black flecks floating in the water, this could be caused by tiny bits of metals like manganese or iron, or carbon particles from your water filter.  Household plumbing filters are designed to extract foreign bodies and debris from your water.  Old cartridges eventually break down, releasing tiny bits of carbon into the water or allowing bits of other debris like metal fragments to escape into your water. 

Although the water won't harm you, it's advisable to use bottled water instead until you've solved the problem.

In this case, you'll need to replace the carbon filter cartridge.  Check the manufacturer's instructions and take a note of the make and model number; you should be able to get one from a good DIY store.  Follow the instructions to replace the cartridge, run the water for a few minutes and the problem should resolve itself.


If you notice small crumbs of black/grey stuff floating in your water, there could be an issue with your plumbing.  Sometimes, ageing rubber tubing in areas of your household plumbing, for example the water heater, breaks down, and tiny fragments finish up in your hot water supply.

The easiest solution to this problem is to call out your local plumber like someone from Bunbury Plumbing and Gas to investigate.  He or she will replace the damaged hose and flush out any remaining debris.


Another common cause of household water pollution is rust particles from corroding pipework.  Rust particles appear brownish in colour when you hold a glass of water up to the light and will settle on the bottom when the water is allowed to stand for a while.

Tiny quantities of rust in your water aren't hazardous to your health, but they are indicative of potential issues with your plumbing.  Once again, call out a good plumbing contractor to investigate further and replace any damaged pipework for you.

In conclusion

Many of the causes of cloudy or dirty household water are easily resolved and aren't dangerous to your health.  However, it's a good idea to have a qualified plumber take a look at your system to be on the safe side.