My water looks different

Washing apples in a sink

What's going on with your water?

Tell us what your water looks like and we'll let you know what might be making it look different.

Bits in water

Fixing the problem

Bits in your water supply are normally short-lived and can often be cleared by allowing the first incoming cold water tap to run for five minutes.

If you experience short term discoloured water and you need water for drinking or cooking, please follow this advice:

  1. Run the first incoming cold water tap for several minutes (this will usually be your kitchen tap).
  2. Fill a jug and leave it to stand until any sediment has settled to the bottom.
  3. Pour the clean water from the top of the jug for you to use.

If running the tap does not clear the discolouration, please check with your neighbours to determine if their water is also discoloured.

If your neighbours do not have discoloured water then the cause is almost certainly due to pipework between the main in the road and the kitchen tap. It may be worthwhile checking whether you have any lead pipes in your home. 

Glass of water with bits in it

Works in your area

If the bits in your water are being caused by some work we're doing or a burst pipe, you should be able to find the incident and check on the status on our map.

Check our map

tree illustration

Why it happens

Bits in your water supply can be caused by naturally occurring iron and manganese deposits. It can also be associated with the corrosion of unlined Iron mains or a deterioration of your supply pipe. Normally these deposits don’t affect anyone, but can on occasion be disturbed and re-suspended into the water resulting in discolouration. This can occur during a sudden change in the direction or flow rate of water within the mains, such as when there is a burst or through an increase in demand; for example when the fire service connect to the mains network.

While your tap water is discoloured, don’t run the hot water tap or use dishwashers, washing machines or any appliances fed by your hot water supply.

In our experience, discoloured water caused by main deposits is unlikely to be harmful to health.

What are Yorkshire Water doing to reduce the likelihood of discoloured water?

Yorkshire Water has over 31,000 km of mains in the ground and supplies water to almost five million people in the Yorkshire region. The Company has a process to prioritise where mains rehabilitation or cleaning/flushing may be required.

In areas where there is localised historic discolouration, Yorkshire Water operates a programme to flush clean the water mains. Flushing is a proactive and controlled way of removing the sediment which causes discoloured water and therefore reducing the likelihood of it occurring in the future.

We will always let you know when this activity is being carried out in your area. 

The quality of water leaving the water treatment works continues to improve with more effective removal of naturally occurring iron and manganese from the water. Yorkshire Water will continue to replace cast iron mains and will continue to clean many of our large diameter trunk mains where mains deposits are known to be an issue.

Light brown or tea coloured water

Fixing the problem

Tea coloured water is normally short lived and can often be cleared by allowing the first incoming cold water tap to run for five minutes.

If you experience short term discoloured water and you need water for drinking or cooking, please follow the advice:

  1. Run the first incoming cold water tap for several minutes (this will usually be your kitchen tap)
  2. Fill a jug and leave it to stand until any sediment has settled to the bottom
  3. Pour the clean water from the top of the jug for you to use

If running the tap does not clear the discolouration, please check with your neighbours to determine if their water is also discoloured.

If your neighbours do not have discoloured water then the cause is almost certainly due to pipework between the main in the road and the kitchen tap.  It may be worthwhile checking whether you have any lead pipes in your home. 

Glass of light brown water

Works in your area

If the colour of your water is being caused by some work we're doing or a burst pipe, you should be able to find the incident and check on the status on our map.

Check our map

Trees

Why it happens

Tea coloured water can be caused by naturally occurring iron deposits. It can also be associated with the corrosion of unlined Iron mains or a deterioration of your supply pipe. Normally these deposits don’t affect anyone, but can on occasion be disturbed and re-suspended into the water resulting in discolouration. This can occur during a sudden change in the direction or flow rate of water within the mains, such as when there is a burst or through an increase in demand; for example when the fire service connect to the mains network.

While your tap water is discoloured, don’t run the hot water tap or use dishwashers, washing machines or any appliances fed by your hot water supply.

In our experience, discoloured water caused by main deposits is unlikely to be harmful to health.

 

What are Yorkshire Water doing to reduce the likelihood of discoloured water?

Yorkshire Water has over 31,000 km of mains in the ground and supplies water to almost five million people in the Yorkshire region. The Company has a process to prioritise where mains rehabilitation or cleaning/flushing may be required.

In areas where there is localised historic discolouration, Yorkshire Water operates a programme to flush clean the water mains. Flushing is a proactive and controlled way of removing the sediment which causes discoloured water and therefore reducing the likelihood of it occurring in the future.

We will always let you know when this activity is being carried out in your area. For more information please view our pipe cleaning video.

The quality of water leaving the water treatment works continues to improve with more effective removal of naturally occurring iron and manganese from the water. Yorkshire Water will continue to replace cast iron mains and will continue to clean many of our large diameter trunk mains where mains deposits are known to be an issue.

Dark brown or black water

Fixing the problem

Dark brown or black coloured water is normally short lived and can often be cleared by allowing the first incoming cold water tap to run for five minutes.

If you experience short term discoloured water and you need water for drinking or cooking, please follow this advice:

  1. Run the first incoming cold water tap for several minutes (this will usually be your kitchen tap)
  2. Fill a jug and leave it to stand until any sediment has settled to the bottom
  3. Pour the clean water from the top of the jug for you to use

You can also check what is happening in your area by entering a postcode below to see if we are already aware of any issues with the supply.

If running the tap does not clear the discolouration, please check with your neighbours to determine if their water is also discoloured.

If your neighbours do not have discoloured water then the cause is almost certainly due to pipework between the main in the road and the kitchen tap.  It may be worthwhile checking whether you have any lead pipes in your home. 

Glass of dark brown/black water

Why it happens 

Dark brown or black coloured water is usually caused by naturally occurring iron and manganese deposits which settle in the water mains over time. Normally these deposits don’t affect anyone, but can on occasion be disturbed and re-suspended into the water resulting in discolouration. This can occur during a sudden change in the direction or flow rate of water within the mains, such as when there is a burst or through an increase in demand; for example when the fire service connect to the mains network.

While your tap water is discoloured, don’t run the hot water tap or use dishwashers, washing machines or any appliances fed by your hot water supply.

In our experience, discoloured water caused by main deposits is unlikely to be harmful to health.

 

What are Yorkshire Water doing to reduce the likelihood of discoloured water?

Yorkshire Water has over 31,000 km of mains in the ground and supplies water to almost five million people in the Yorkshire region. The Company has a process to prioritise where mains rehabilitation or cleaning/flushing may be required.

In areas where there is localised historic discolouration, Yorkshire Water operates a programme to flush clean the water mains. Flushing is a proactive and controlled way of removing the sediment which causes discoloured water and therefore reducing the likelihood of it occurring in the future.

We will always let you know when this activity is being carried out in your area. For more information please view our pipe cleaning video.

The quality of water leaving the water treatment works continues to improve with more effective removal of naturally occurring iron and manganese from the water. Yorkshire Water will continue to replace cast iron mains and will continue to clean many of our large diameter trunk mains where mains deposits are known to be an issue.

Blue water

Fixing the problem

If your water is blue or green, please contact us immediately for some help and advice.

Contact us via a free call back to arrange for an inspection of your plumbing or if you've noticed this after having plumbing work done, please contact a plumber.

Glas of blue water

Why it happens

A blue colour in drinking water is very rare but when it happens it is usually due to one of two reasons;

Firstly, it may be due to corrosion of copper plumbing. The blue colour indicates that there are elevated levels of copper in the water. The problem only occurs where there is relatively new copper plumbing. Another risk factor is when water is left to stagnate in the newly installed pipes following pressure testing and before occupation of a property. Most recorded cases relate to large public buildings or new housing estates. Blue water is less likely to occur when work is undertaken by qualified plumbers and water company-approved contractors who will use only approved materials and procedures. The blue colour will disappear when the tap is run. If the colour persists though, you should contact us to arrange for an inspection of your plumbing. We can test your water and provide advice on how to improve your water quality.

The second reason relates to the issue that some customers choose to install blue-coloured disinfectant in toilet cisterns. On rare occasions, blue-coloured tap water can also be due to such water from poorly installed toilet cisterns siphoning back into the internal plumbing. You may notice this after having plumbing work done or if moving into a refurbished property for the first time. 

Find an approved plumber

Green water

Fixing the problem

If your water is green, please contact us immediately for some help and advice.

Contact us via a free call back to arrange for an inspection of your plumbing or if you have noticed this after having plumbing work done, please contact a plumber.

Glass of green

Why it happens 

Green water may be due to corrosion of copper plumbing. The green/blue colour indicates that there are elevated levels of copper in the water. The problem only occurs where there is relatively new copper plumbing. Another risk factor is when water is left to stagnate in the newly installed pipes following pressure testing and before occupation of a property. Most recorded cases relate to large public buildings or new housing estates. Green water is less likely to occur when work is undertaken by qualified plumbers and water company-approved contractors who will use only approved materials and procedures. The green colour will disappear when the tap is run. If the colour persists though, you should contact us to arrange for an inspection of your plumbing. We can test your water and provide advice on how to improve your water quality.

An algae bloom can also cause green water. Properties with header tanks that are not properly maintained can be susceptible to this.

Milky or cloudy water

Fixing the problem

To check if cloudy water is caused by air, fill a glass with water and leave to stand for a few minutes. The tiny air bubbles will rise to the surface and the cloudy appearance will soon clear from the bottom upwards.

If air is coming from the mains, the only way to clear it is to let it work its way through the system. You can run your taps to help flush the cloudy water through. If it has been cloudy for longer than 24 hours, we may need to flush the mains water pipes to help it along its way.

Air in water may also be caused by internal plumbing. Running the cold tap will draw the warmed cloudy water through, bringing in water that has come straight from the main pipe outside.

If running the tap does not clear the water,  and your neighbours are not affected, it may still be a problem with your plumbing. It may need to be looked at by a qualified plumber.

Find an approved plumber

Glass of cloudy/milky water

Works in your area

If the colour of your water is being caused by some work we're doing or a burst pipe, you should be able to find the incident and check on the status on our map.

Check our map

Trees

Why it happens

Water can appear cloudy or milky if air mixes with the supply. Under mains pressure, air can become entrained or trapped causing water to have a milky, cloudy or white appearance. This often happens following water mains repairs. Occasionally, you may also notice knocking or banging noises coming from the internal plumbing. This is usually because of a burst mains pipe or faulty plumbing fitting. To help fix the problem, try running the cold water tap at the first point of entry into the property (closest to the internal stop tap) on a slow steady flow. While the tap is running, turn the internal stop tap on/off several times to help release the air from the pipes.

Sometimes it’s the internal plumbing that causes cloudy or milky water, where cold water pipework in your home touches unlagged hot water pipes. This can lead to localised warming and cloudiness in the cold water supply. Running the tap will draw the warmed water through, bringing in water that has come straight from the main pipe outside.

Black mould or slime in water

Fixing the problem

Black mould or slime (also known as biofilms) is associated with tap fittings which can be removed by cleaning (both inside and outside) with a small brush (such as an old toothbrush) dipped in a mild solution of bleach. Flush the tap after cleaning to remove any bleach.

Kitchen surfaces and tiles can be wiped with a household cleaner or mild bleach solution that will kill the bacteria and fungi. It’s our experience that use of a sponge rather than a scouring pad gives best results. Always remember to check that the cleaning solution you use is suitable for the surface you will be using it on.

Biofilms can occur on any surface that regularly comes into contact with water. They’re often found in the following areas around the home:

  1. On the inside of taps (especially where the tap has a mesh-style-like insert to prevent splashing)
  2. In and around washing machine powder drawers and door seals
  3. Around the base of taps and tap fittings
  4. In drains/plugholes, in and around toilet cisterns
  5. In shower heads and on shower curtains and doors
  6. On tiles around the bathroom area and kitchen sink area
Glass of water with slim in it

Why it happens

What are biofilms?

The appearance of slime in and around taps, or the staining of tiles and surfaces in kitchens and bathrooms is often due to the growth of microscopic organisms such as bacteria and fungi. Collectively, these growths are called biofilms.
Bacteria and fungi are naturally present in air, food and water and can attach themselves to damp surfaces, where they can multiply to produce a visible jelly-like growth, slime or stain in various colours (black, grey and pink).
Although not nice to look at, biofilms are considered to be a nuisance rather than a risk to health. It’s not possible to completely and permanently remove biofilms, however, it’s possible to stop them growing.

 

What can be done to reduce biofilms?

The bacteria and fungi that live in biofilms need water and nutrients to survive and grow. The best way to prevent growth is to improve ventilation so kitchen and bathrooms can dry quickly. It’s also important to reduce the food sources available to biofilms. These may include shampoos, soaps and general kitchen food. Keeping the areas clean and free from potential food sources will restrict growth.

Certain plumbing materials can also promote growth of biofilms, for example rubber washers in taps and some flexible hoses connected to washing machines and dishwashers. If you suspect these to be the cause of biofilms, get advice from a qualified plumbers merchant and replace them with an approved product.

If any taps where biofilm has been noticed are fed from a header tank, it’s worth investigating to check that it’s clean and correctly sealed. Biofilms attach and grow quicker on rough surfaces such as limescale. Limescale can be removed using a brush and a variety of cleaning products.

The use of water filters and softeners can also encourage biofilm growth, especially if they aren’t maintained and serviced according to the manufacturers’ instructions.