9 Causes Of Smelly Or Yellow Well Water | What Should You Do?

Why is my well water yellow? Many people may ponder this question. There have been many instances of water contamination in recent years.

People are becoming more concerned about their water. You may notice a cloudy, brown hard water, bleach, or chlorine smell. But what about yellow water?

Rust is what causes the yellow tint to the water. Iron and oxygen are low in the water treatment system, and their mixture can trigger the yellow color.

Other reasons for cloudy yellow tap water include repairs to the water utility or flushing, organic material, plant leaves, and iron bacteria.

Let’s see some of the most common questions “why my well water is yellow after rain” and how to remove the color from water.

Why is my well water yellow and smell?

Yellow water is considered minor because it doesn’t threaten human health. Anything that makes your water impure or unclean is a problem.

Water utility flushing repairs, iron bacteria in private wells, organic material, and other contaminants can cause color changes, smells, and algae.

Any one of the reasons mentioned above could cause your well water to brown all of a sudden.

To avoid these types of problems and get the perfect drinking water quality, please have a look at these points to know the ideal option:

1. Iron Bacteria in well water

This bacteria is most common in well water and reacts with iron, manganese, and oxygen to create rust deposits, which can cause yellow well water.

While the iron bacteria found in well drinking water is not considered life-threatening. It can make conditions that favor other organisms that could cause harm to your health.

These bacteria can cause clogging, negatively impacting the well’s ability to produce more water. 

You can ensure your safety by testing colored water for coliform and nitrate bacteria.

According to HEALTH STATE MN US many microorganisms in well water can cause diarrheas, dysenteries, salmonellosis, hepatitis, and giardiasis.

Children, infants, and older people with low immunity are more likely to get sick or die from disease-causing drinking well water.

2. Contaminants in the Incoming Water Supply

Some contaminants can cause water to turn yellow due to contamination. These contaminants include manganese, iron, copper, and zinc.

Iron and manganese are more common in private wells, and manganese is darker brown when they leave a yellow stain on the water.

Iron can make cloudy yellow, orange, or brown water. It might also cause stains or rusty odor in the kitchen, bathroom, fish tank, and hot tub water. 

It can form a sludge-like substance when combined with bacteria. This could affect water flow. The zinc can occur in wells and alter the color of your tap water to more yellow.

Iron and manganese levels are lower in the city water sources. Still, you might notice discoloration depending on your local water quality.

You should also be aware that lead is a contaminant. Lead can also be colorless, depending on what contaminants it comes in contact with.

3. Pipe Maintenance

Pipe Maintenance to avoid dirty water

Regular maintenance and repair are a must for every water supply system. Rust and other materials could be spread to your water line

Rusty environments are a breeding ground for bacteria and bleach smell. That is why utility companies do regular maintenance and repairs. 

The maintenance process also monitors the condition of water lines and facilities to ensure optimum performance and high-quality clear water. 

You should not use it if tap water is yellow or you notice water coloration in the kitchen, bathroom, and hot tub water during maintenance. 

Contact your local city water source to report the changing color

You can buy bottled water to keep you hydrated until your tap water quality returns to normal. 

Find and address any issues behind your well water yellow all of a sudden before you try to use it again. You should conduct regular water testing and maintenance to ensure high-quality clear water.

To avoid these types of problems and get the perfect drinking water quality, please have a look at these points to know the perfect option:

4. Tannins

Tannin contamination occurs when groundwater seeps into layers of soil and vegetation.  

Tanning in water has no health risks. This simple contaminant poses the most significant problem, like water’s unpleasant taste, appearance, and smell. 

It’s not something anyone wants to do, especially since it can cause yellow staining. Drinking water with a bad taste, a bad smell, soil particles, or a tangy flavor is not your idea of fun. 

Your home’s water source is at risk for permanent damage due to tannin molecules, which can cause yellow stains.

They are, according to science, the most common reason for changes in watercolor. 

Tannins can cause to turn your well water cloudy yellow color and discolor. They are not harmful to the environment or risk human health.

5. Rusty Water Heater

The water heater is part of your home’s plumbing, where rust could build up.

Rusty environments are a breeding ground for bacteria, bleach smell, and cause Black mold in pitchers. That is why utility companies do regular maintenance and repairs. 

Your hot water supply could be affected by a tiny amount of rust that can cause it to turn yellow, orange, or brown water.

There is an easy way to tell if you have yellow discolored water due to a rusty heater.

You can turn on both your hot and cold water faucets simultaneously. If you notice discoloration in your hot water, your heater is likely responsible.

6. Burst Pipes

Burst Pipes

Although burst pipes don’t seem to be a problem often, corrosion and weather conditions can lead to this issue.

If a pipe burst, sediments, and other impurities can enter your water supply. As some water leaks out of the pipe, you may notice a drop in water pressure.

Your local authority will quickly notice a problem with a burst pipeline and resolve it within hours. You will need to call a plumber if you get a leak in your property’s pipes.

7. Fire Hydrant Use

Fire hydrant usage is perhaps the most likely cause of dirty water, but it’s worth looking into.

The fire services may have to use a nearby hydrant in an emergency situation. 

It could temporarily divert your water supply or cause water pressure fluctuations, leading to sediment buildup in underground pipes.

8. Corroded Faucets

The easiest way to fix yellow water is corroded faucets. Your faucet’s insides can become worn over time.

The flow of water can cause the corroded material to be dislodged and carried out of the faucets, giving yellow water in the toilet bowl or kitchen.

It is easy to see if your drinking water is yellowing from a corroded faucet. Open another faucet in your house and test the water. 

Two glasses are required to get the correct results. Fill one glass with cold water from the faucet causing the problem and the second from another.

To see if there are any color differences, compare both glasses.

9. Rusty Household Plumbing

Rusty Household Plumbing can make your water rusty

Your faucets might not be the problem. You might notice well water suddenly yellow tint if your plumbing is old or you are using outdated lead or galvanized pipes.

Drink rust in your water. Although it isn’t usually dangerous for your health, it can be pretty unpleasant.

Get a professional plumber to inspect your plumbing and determine if it needs to be replaced.

It may be costly to replace your entire plumbing water system, but it is necessary with rusting galvanized pipes.

Is it safe to drink yellow tap water?

It is not safe to consume yellow water. Without tasting, you don’t know what the colored water contains or which contaminants it may have.

Avoid drinking this water and use bottled water to ensure your safety. First, water test and then take the appropriate steps to improve its quality.

According to a report on wqa.org some common waterborne contaminants include:

(swipe right to see all of the information).

ContaminantSources of ContaminantPotential Health Effects
Aluminum (Al)Rock and soil leachingHigh risk associated with dialysis patients
Ammonia (NH3)Disinfection with chloramines Wastes, FertilizersNone proposed for humans but toxic for aquatic life
Arsenic (As)Leaching from natural deposits Wood preservatives, pesticides, industrial depositsSevere skin problems, Cancer, Harms cardiovascular &nervous systems
Barium (Ba)Mineral deposits Disposal of drilling wastes Smelting of vehicle parts manufacturingDifficulties in breathing, stomach irritation, brain swelling, liver, kidney, heart, and spleen damage.
Cadmium (Cd)Corrosion of galvanized pipes Erosion of natural deposits Discharges from metal refineries.Short Term – nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle cramp, sensory disturbances, convulsions, shock, and renal failure. Long Term – kidney, liver, bone, and blood damage.
Monochloramine Dichloramine Nitrogen trichlorideMunicipal TreatmentCan cause hemolytic anemia when present in dialysis process water
Copper (Cu)Industrial dischargesAcute copper poisoning: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, gastrointestinal illness, and kidney failure.
Fluoride (F- )Natural deposits Municipally treated drinking water.Skeletal fluorosis from long-term consumption at > 4 mg/L (a severe bone disorder resembling osteopetrosis and characterized)
Lead (Pb)Mostly lead service lines, lead-containing solder, Industrial processes, and mines.Reduced intelligence, impaired hearing, and decreased growth in children damage the brain, kidneys, and bone marrow.
NitrateHuman sewage and livestock manure Fertilizers Erosion of natural depositsMethemoglobinemia (blue baby syndrome)
PerchlorateInorganic chemicals are used in fireworks, explosives, and rocket propellants.Inhibits the absorption of iodine by thyroid glands and causes learning disabilities in children.
Radium (Ra)Radioactive decay of uranium and thorium in rocks and soilIncreased risk of cancer
Selenium (Se)Natural deposits Released from copper smeltingHair and fingernail change damage to the peripheral nervous system.
Silver (Ag)In soil as insoluble silver chloride (AgCl) and silver sulfide (Ag2S) Majority from used as a bacteriostat in water treatment devicesArgyria – discoloration of skin, hair, and various organs
Uranium (U)Naturally occurring mineralKidney toxicity Increased risk of cancer

How to fix yellow well or tap water

Water testing for contaminants

Several different treatments depending on the causes. Regular testing is the first step for all of them.

Step 1: Test Well Water

If you have a well, it’s essential to test your water periodically. Testing can help identify potential contaminants, total dissolved solids (TDS), coliform bacteria, other potential contaminants, pH, and problems with the well itself.

If a natural disaster strikes in your region, or you detect something unusual in your otherwise superb water, that regulation may be modified.

Yellow color or cloudy water would, of course, mean something wrong with it.

To test the water, follow these steps:

  1. Collect a sample of yellow well water from the top of the well.
  2. Do not allow the well’s bucket or spout to touch your skin or clothing; do not pour any water into the sinkhole!
  3. It is vital to wait 24 hours after collecting a sample before drawing a clean straw through the filter since this allows time for contaminants to settle.
  4. Use a clean water container to collect the sample.
  5. Take it to your local county health department.
  6. Check pH levels regularly with an accurate testing kit (like those available from Amazon).

If you notice any change in pH levels that is not normal, investigate further! Testing your water is essential because it can help identify potential contaminants, TDS, pH, and other problems.

The well water test is explained in detail in this video:

Step 2: Choose The Perfect Solution According To Test

When you get the correct cause of the problem, you can select a suitable treatment solution like:

1. Whole House Water Filter.

Whole-house water softener purifies water by eliminating all contaminants, bad smells, chlorine, and unpleasant taste and restoring the water coloration.

It allows you to make alkaline water with an activated carbon filter to eliminate yellow water.

A faucet water filter is also available. These filters are inexpensive and effective in reducing or eliminating the most common contaminants. They can also improve taste and color.

2. UV Disinfection Treatment:

It is a water treatment method that uses ultraviolet light to kill bacteria and viruses.

The UV disinfection treatment can effectively control the growth of bacteria and viruses, which helps maintain water quality.

It should only be done by a qualified professional and can be expensive.

3. Tannin Filters:

When you find tannins in your water, the best solution is to get tannin filters.

Tannin is a type of natural antioxidant that can block harmful chemicals from leaving your water system and entering your home.

Once installed, these filters will start filtering out the tannins in your water before it ever gets to you.

4. Reverse Osmosis System:

If the problem is caused by bacteria, then you should use a reverse osmosis system to clean the water supply.

This method uses ultraviolet light and pressure to zap bacteria out of the water. It is effective in killing most types of bacteria and viruses.

Fortunately, a reverse osmosis water softener is relatively affordable and can be installed in hours.

5. Iron Filter System:

If you find that the iron in your water is causing problems, consider installing an iron filter system.

This will help remove the metal from your water and prevent further issues.

Springwell iron filter systems are some of the most popular options on the market.

6. Replace Old Pipes:

Suppose the damage is limited to a small section of pipe. In that case, you may be able to repair it yourself using supplies that are readily available at home or hardware stores.

If the pipe is too damaged for this, you may need to have it replaced. You’ll need to hire a professional to ensure it’s done correctly.

7. Activated Carbon Filtration:

Carbon filter for well water

Activated carbon water filtration is a great way to remove contaminants and toxins from your drinking water.

By using activated carbon, you will be able to improve the taste as well as the health of your drinking water.

It is affordable and easy to use, so it is an excellent choice if you want to improve your water quality without spending a lot of money.

8. Chlorination Process:

If the water test is positive for chlorination, adding chlorine to the water supply is a viable solution. This will help kill harmful bacteria or viruses in the water and improve its quality.

However, chlorination may retain the chlorine taste and smell of your water. 

9. Iron Bacteria Removal Process:

Removing iron bacteria requires disinfectants, surfactants, acids, chlorine, and pasteurization. The first step is to use a disinfectant to kill any existing bacteria.

Then, using a surfactant, you spread the disinfectant over the area that needs treatment. Next, add acid to break down any filth and remove it.

Finally, add chlorine for additional protection and pasteurization to kill any viruses that may be present.

Health Risks From Yellow Water

Your health is not at risk if your water contains iron bacteria, iron, manganese, and other organic material

Although rust is not harmful in small quantities, it is still best to avoid drinking rust-contaminated waters to protect your health. 

Iron in water supplies is essential for maintaining a healthy body. Other sources of iron are more potent than iron-contaminated hard water. 

If you notice discolored water, contact your supplier immediately. 

To avoid untoward consequences, it is a good idea to stop drinking and using tap water immediately.

Because iron is easily absorbed by the body, it is safe to bathe or shower in yellow tap water. 

Long-term exposure to high levels of mineral content water can cause hair and skin problems. 

Your skin may become dry from prolonged exposure to high-mineral yellow bathwater.  

The problem will be solved by removing the mineral content from the hair and skin.


Why is my water yellow all of a sudden?

One potential cause of tap water yellow all of a sudden could be an issue with the municipal water supply.
A buildup of sediment, chemicals, or minerals can cause this discoloration.
Other possible causes could include a leak in your plumbing system, poor filtration, or inadequate treatment facilities.
Suppose you notice any changes in tap water’s color, odor, or quality. In that case, it’s best to contact a professional to solve the issue.

Why is my toilet water yellow?

The most common cause of yellow toilet water is iron buildup from hard water.
This occurs because the chlorine in tap water reacts with the iron in the pipes to form chloramines.
Chloramines are less effective at killing bacteria than regular chlorine, so they tend to accumulate in the pipes.
Over time, this buildup can lead to a foul odor and water discoloration in the toilet bowl.
To prevent this, try using a water softener or adding baking soda to the tank monthly.
Minerals In Water
Sometimes we don’t have clean water as we think. It is rich in minerals like magnesium and chloride. You won’t be hurt if these minerals aren’t in sufficient quantities.
These minerals can build up over time, mainly if used for a long time. Parts of this buildup will eventually wash out with the water when it reaches a large size.
In most cases, this isn’t dangerous. However, it does mean that repairs might be a brilliant idea.
Sometimes heavy minerals can clog your filter and decrease your filtering capacity, further explained in 15 reasons why Brita Longlast filters are slow.

What causes black stains on tub/shower walls?

Black stains on bathroom surfaces are caused by mineral deposits from hard water or yellow bathwater.
Hard water has higher levels of minerals like calcium, magnesium, and sulfate, which can leave behind streaks when combined with soap scum and other cleaning products.
Try switching to a low-mineral cleaner to reduce the number of minerals left behind.

Is yellow well water safe to shower in?

Yes, I would. But only if there is iron in the water. Low Iron levels are not harmful to your health, so it is essential to taste the water.
We have already mentioned that yellow water can be caused by many factors. Through testing, we can identify the contaminants.
Exposure to water with a high mineral content can lead to dry hair and skin problems.
An itchy scalp can also be a possibility. Before you bathe in yellow water, treat it and get rid of any high mineral content.

Why is my well water yellow after rain?

Rain can cause groundwater to mix with surface water, leading to a yellowish hue in well water. Turbidity and other pollutants in the rainwater add color.
If you notice any changes in the color, odor, or quality of your well water following heavy rains. Then, it’s best to speak with a professional to check for and address potential problems.


Why is my water yellow? As we described above, why is your well water suddenly yellow and slimy?

It can turn yellow staining due to iron bacteria and organic matter in the bathroom, kitchen, and fish tank water. The water discoloration doesn’t necessarily indicate that it is unsafe.

It is essential to examine any changes in the water, whether it be color, taste, or smell. Then, take the appropriate steps

Send a sample of your water to a certified laboratory or purchase a contaminant test kit. And take the right step to be safe and healthy from unwanted health-related problems.

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