Why Does My Hot Water Come Out Foggy?

Perhaps you’re filling a pot with hot water for boiling, and as it’s spewing out of the faucet, you notice it has noticeable cloudiness. While it’s usually not a big deal, it can be disconcerting, leaving many folks wondering whether the water is safe for cooking or drinking. 

Key Points:

  • Cloudy-looking hot water coming from the tap is usually not a cause for concern.
  • There are several potential causes of this issue, such as a clogged faucet aerator, excess air in the water due to heating, or sediment buildup in the water heater.
  • Generally, cloudy, hot water is safe to consume, with the exception of when any sediment is present in the water.

There are a few potential culprits behind your foggy tap water, and to determine the root cause, you’ll need to do a bit of sleuthing. We’re here to walk you through what you need to know, so continue reading to learn more!

Is Hot Water Supposed To Be Foggy?

While hot water from a tap isn’t necessarily supposed to be foggy, it’s a common occurrence. In some cases, you might notice the problem is solely isolated to the hot water side of your taps, while the cold water side is entirely unaffected. 

This might leave you scratching your head because wouldn’t this issue affect both sides? Not necessarily. Usually, cloudy, hot water is due to the air content in your water. The air bubbles in your hot water are trying to escape, so when you fill a glass with hot water, you’ll probably see a bunch of tiny bubbles. As the bubbles rise to the top of the water and pop, the water will usually become much clearer. 

What Causes Cloudy Tap Water?

There are a few things that can cause cloudy tap water. As mentioned, the most common reason behind this issue is excess air in the water. However, this particular problem can be caused by a few different things. 

If the problem persists on the cold and hot water taps, it’s probably because of a clogged or dirty faucet aerator. As the water tries to exit the faucet, the mineral deposits block its way, raising the pressure of the water. This increases the number of bubbles in the water, creating its cloudy appearance. 

Alternatively, if the problem is isolated to the hot water taps in your home, it’s probably due to the heating process. The cold water that enters your water heater can hold more dissolved oxygen than heated water. So, once the system heats the water, this dissolved oxygen is no longer trapped in the water but is unable to escape. 

When you turn on the faucet, the oxygen comes rushing out with the water, creating a foggy appearance. 

Your cloudy water issue could also result from sediment buildup in your water heater. This is a slightly less common issue that could cause murky water, but it’s still something many homeowners deal with regularly. If you have hard water in your home, there’s a chance this could be the problem.

Sediment can build up within your water heater tank over time, eventually working its way out of the heater via your faucet. This results in the cloudy water you might have from your taps. 

Is Foggy Water Safe To Drink?

For the most part, foggy water is entirely safe to drink. The water is perfectly fine if the problem stems from a dirty aerator or excess air in the water from the heating process. However, if you suspect there is sediment in the water from your water heater, it’s best to avoid drinking it. 

You can easily test for the potential issue by observing the water over a few minutes. Start by filling a clear glass with hot water. Set the cup on the counter and watch it for a few minutes. If the bubbles in the glass rise to the top and pop, creating crystal clear water, the water should be just fine. This indicates there was excess air in the water that needed to escape. 

However, if the water has a greenish, brownish, or grayish tinge and remains cloudy, you should avoid drinking it. Generally, when sediment is the problem, the water will clear from the top down, but it takes a while to become clear. You might notice small particles in the water resting on the bottom of the cup. 

How To Fix Cloudy Tap Water

Cloudy Water

In some cases, you might be able to fix the problem yourself without any issues. In others, you might need to implement an extra system to combat the problem. Here are a few potential fixes to eliminate the cloudy tap water in your home. 

Clean The Aerator

If you suspect the aerator might be the culprit, you can try to remedy the problem by cleaning the aerator. You can verify the aerator is the problem by checking other taps in your home using the water test listed above. If the problem is isolated to one fixture, it’s probably the aerator. 

So, here’s what you’ll need:

  • White vinegar
  • Bowl
  • Warm water
  • Sandwich bag (as needed)
  • Rubber band (as needed)
  • Aerator removal tool (as needed)

To start, you’ll need to remove the faucet aerator. You can easily remove the aerator in some faucets by unthreading it from the spout. However, some faucets feature a recessed aerator tucked into the spout, so you’ll need to use the aerator’s key. 

If you’re working with a kitchen faucet, the aerator might be within the spray head and hard to reach. In this case, it’s usually best to fill a sandwich bag with your cleaning solution and secure it with a rubber band. 

Mix white vinegar and water in a 50/50 mixture. If you’re working with a kitchen faucet, pour the mixture into a sandwich bag, ensuring there’s enough to submerge the spout or spray head. Secure it to the spout with a rubber band. 

Or, if you can remove the aerator, pour the mixture into a bowl and drop the aerator in. Let the aerator sit in the mixture for a few hours or overnight, then remove it from the mixture and rinse it with fresh water. Reattach the aerator as needed. 

Add A Water Softener

In some cases, the problem might stem from hard water in your home. While you can regularly flush your water heater, this can add up over time. So, you might want to consider investing in a water softener. These systems can be pricey, but they’ll save your appliances from hard water damage. 

If you decide to invest in a whole-home water softener, contact a plumbing professional for assistance with the installation process (if you’re not comfortable doing so yourself). On average, hiring a professional to install your whole-home water softener will cost you about $1,500, which includes materials and labor. 

On the low end, it might be around $500, but on the high end, it could be up to $6,000.

When To Call A Professional About Foggy Water

In some cases, it might be best to enlist the help of a professional, as some problems are trickier than others. Generally, it’s best to seek the help of a professional when your water remains cloudy after the water test or takes a long time to clear. 

This can indicate the presence of sediment or potentially harmful components in your water, so it’s best to have a professional examine the system for issues. Sometimes, the fix might be as simple as flushing your water heater. However, in others, it might require a more complex solution. 

So, if you’re unsure why your water continues to remain cloudy, contact your local plumbing or water professional.

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