White water

Drinking water can sometimes appear ‘milky’ or ‘cloudy’ when first drawn from the tap. This is caused by tiny air bubbles which usually disappears after leaving the glass of water to stand for a few minutes. You can see the effect of this below:

Cloudy water

  • Why is this happening?

    White water can be more obvious after a burst water main or maintenance activities that are carried out on our water distribution network.

    As well as noticing the changes to the appearance of your water, you may also hear banging coming from your internal plumbing or that the water is ‘frothy’ or splutters when the tap is opened. Occasionally frothy water may dislodge deposits that have collected on the inside of pipes, but this is nothing to worry about and should clear as the water is used.

    Click here to check if there have been any planned works in your area.

    Cloudy water which clears after being left to stand for a few minutes has been caused by tiny air bubbles in the water and is not harmful to your health. However, if you've tried this and the water has not cleared, please take a look at our ‘What to do’ section below for more advice.

  • Common household causes

    White water is most commonly caused by air which can come from the mains or your internal plumbing. Here are some household plumbing issues that could cause white or cloudy water:

    • If you find this happens on a regular basis, it is probably because the water has become warm or there is a restriction somewhere in the system. Not laying hot water pipes next to cold water pipes or simply lagging your hot water pipes will minimise the problem of warming.

    • Ensuring that the internal stop tap (usually located beneath the kitchen sink) is almost fully open is another precaution that you can take to stop your tap water becoming cloudy.

    • If your neighbours are not affected this means you could have an internal plumbing issue. Click here to find a Watersafe approved plumber
  • What to do

    Cloudy water is not harmful to your health and may be caused by maintenance activities on your water supply. To see if there has been any planned works in your area, please click here.

    You can check what has caused your cloudy water and how you can help resolve it below:

    • First, try filling a glass with water and leave it to stand for a few minutes. If the cloudiness clears from the bottom of the glass upwards, this shows the cloudy appearance has been caused by air. The tiny air bubbles will rise to the surface and the cloudy appearance will disappear. You can see the effect in the photograph above. If your water clears in this way, there is nothing to worry about. 
    • One way you can try to fix the problem is by running the cold water tap at the first point of entry into the property (closest to the internal stop tap which usually is in the kitchen) on a slow steady flow – why not fill a washing up bowl and use it to water your plants!

    • If the issue persists, repeat the above, but while the tap is running, turn the internal stop tap on/off 4-6 times to help release the air from the pipes.

    • If you find this happens on a regular basis, it is probably because the water has become warm or there is a restriction somewhere in the system. Not laying hot water pipes next to cold water pipes or simply lagging your hot water pipes will minimise the problem of warming.

    • If the issue is coming from the mains, the only way to clear it may be to let the air work its way through the system. You can use your taps to help flush the air through the system. If it has been cloudy for longer than 24 hours, please call us on 0345 672 3723  as we may need to flush the mains water pipe.

    • If running your tap doesn’t solve your problem, and your neighbours are not having this issue, it may be an internal plumbing problem. We always recommend you use a Watersafe approved plumber when having work on your property, click here to find a plumber. 

    We also have an easy-to-read guide which explains how you can keep your tap water in tip-top condition (PDF 2,765 KB opens in a new window)