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The water coming out of my faucet is dirty, what do I do?

Inquiries about dirty water are some of the most common customer calls we receive, and for good reason.  It’s disconcerting when you turn on the tap expecting clear water and instead see water that is discolored or dirty.  Customers often wonder why this happens, what they can do, and most of all, if the water is still safe to use?  Read on for answers to these and other questions about dirty water.

Why does my water look dirty?  Dirty or discolored water is often due to a disruption in the water main.  When water flows through the pipes faster than normal, natural sediment at the bottom of the pipe can get stirred up.  This can happen as a result of a water main break, higher water flow due to firefighting, or even a street sweeper using a hydrant to fill up its tanks.  Sometimes PWD turns valves or flushes water mains and this can stir up the sediment as well.

My hot water is dirty but the cold water still looks fine.  What does that mean?  Sometimes the culprit of dirty water is your hot water heater.  If the problem is in the hot water only, it’s probably a sign that the hot water heater needs to be flushed or drained, or maybe even replaced.  You can contact your plumber to evaluate your hot water heater.

Is my water still safe to drink?  The sediment that is stirred up is inert, so it is not harmful and your water is still safe to drink.

What can I do?  Normally, discolored water will clear up on its own.  If it doesn’t, we recommend that you flush the pipes in your house after the main disruption event is over.  This will clear out any remaining sediment or discolored water.  One good way to do this is to fill and drain your bathtub once or twice.  If you’re still having problems with dirty water, or if you have dirty water that persists for several days or goes away and then returns, please give us a call.  We can help diagnose and solve the problem.