White or brown water

White water

Sometimes tap water can appear white or milky which is usually the result of air bubbles suspended in the water.

You can confirm this by drawing a glass of water from the tap and allowing it to stand. If the water clears from the bottom to the top the discolouration is caused by tiny air bubbles. If it clears from the top downwards, it is likely there are chalky deposits in the water due to hardness.

During works on the mains, air can get into the system and dissolve under the pressure of the mains water. It escapes again when the water is returned to normal pressure when it is drawn from a tap.

Like brown water, white water can be caused by a burst or repaired main in your area. This usually clears within 24 to 48 hours.

If you are still experiencing problems after this time, call us on 0345 600 4 600 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm).

If you wish to clear the aeration before drinking the water, try filling a clean jug with water from the cold water kitchen tap, cover it, and leave it in the fridge. This will allow the air to escape and for the water to return to its normal, clear state. Don’t use water that has been kept for more than 24 hours.

Brown water

TOP TIP: If you experience brown water, leave your cold water kitchen tap running for 30 to 40 minutes so that your water runs clear again.*

Brown water is generally caused by iron in the water supply and can be a result of rust sediment in the main becoming disturbed. It can occur when:

  • there is a burst water main
  • a main has been turned back on after a repair
  • a third party is using a large volume of water, eg, the fire service.

Private internal plumbing and service pipes made of iron, including galvanised pipes, can also lead to the accumulation of iron sediments over time which can cause brown water. The colour and sediment within the water will be rust particles from the inside of iron pipes.

These particles are mostly iron which is viewed as an essential part of a normal diet. However, we would recommend that you do not drink discoloured water as it is may have an unpleasant taste.

* If you are on a water meter and have had to run your tap, you can claim an allowance by calling 0345 600 5 600 (24hrs) or completing the form here. If running your cold water kitchen tap fails to solve the problem, call us on 0345 600 4 600 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm, emergencies at other times).