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Why is My Well Water Yellow – How to Fix it? Read 7 Causes

Why is My Well Water Yellow


The well water that flows from your tap makes you wonder why it is yellow or cloudy. What are the reasons behind it? Is it easy to fix?

Your well can have contaminants like iron, manganese, tannins, sediment, and algae, which give a yellow tint to its water. It may look alarming, but fortunately, they don’t harm you. However, it’s crucial to get rid of them either by flushing, repairing the well, or installing a filter. 

In this blog, we’ll be guiding all the possible causes of your muddy or yellow water and easy ways to fix your issue. Let’s determine the offender!

Why is My Well Water Yellow all of a Sudden?

Why is My Well Water Yellow all of a Sudden

It can indicate the presence of iron, manganese, organic matter, or tannins and sediment. However, geological factors, natural disasters such as rain and floods, sulfur compounds, and low pH also contribute to the discoloration of well water.

However, let’s focus on the principal wrongdoers of your well water:

1. Sediments Buildup in Well

Sediments Buildup in Well
Image Credit: Pexels

Dust, sand, or silt are the most common contaminants present in drinking water naturally. These particles suspend, scatter, and absorb light, which can result in a yellowish or murky appearance. ‘

During the installation of a new well or repair, poor location and damaged or deteriorated well screen allow enormous amounts of sand to pump into the well system rather than being stopped out.

Turbulence or fluctuations in water flow are one of the main causes of sediment dispersion in well water. For instance, a lot of rain, abrupt pressure changes in the well system, and particulates suspended in the water can all cause the water to appear hazy or yellow.

It is not harmful to health, but it affects the water quality and its flow. Identifying the main cause and source of the sediments and implementing a suitable treatment system can help improve the quality and appearance of your well water. 

2. Oxidized Iron and Manganese in Well Water

Oxidized Iron and Manganese in Well Water

What if you encounter a yellowish texture and foul smell in your glass of water? Probably, it is more likely affected by iron and manganese. 

When Ferric iron or oxidized iron dissolves into the well water, it is exposed to oxygen and turns yellow. When the groundwater runs through the rocks and soils, iron-bearing water adds other elements such as copper, zinc, lead, manganese, and others. 

Iron and manganese are not harmful to health, but long-term consumption can be vulnerable. So it is better to remove them from your well water. 

3. Accumulation of Iron Bacteria

Do you notice the brown or yellow stains of rust on your dishwashers, glass doors, plumbings, and laundry? The main culprit could be sludge-like thickened bacteria, which appear as dark yellow stains. 

When well water contains dissolved iron, the presence of surrounding bacteria releases the mucous to consume this iron. This sticky secretion creates a slimy biofilm on well screens, pipes, and plumbing fixtures.

Over time, it accumulates as yellowish-brown deposits, which clog pipes, reduce water flow, and cause staining in sinks, toilets, and laundry. It is important to treat your well water to avoid any permanent damage. 

4. Rusting and Clogging Household Plumbing

The slow water flow or yellowish material coming out of the water indicates your plumbings are clogged with rust. 

The constant flow of yellow well water causes household plumbing to rust and dislodge the oxidized iron in your well. With heavy use of this type of equipment, you are more likely to get yellow water coming out of the tap, which can also carry coarse rust particles with the water. 

In this scenario, you may need to replace the plumbing or broken pipes, which can be expensive but worth it.

5. Presence of Tannins or Organic Matter

Tannins are organic compounds that form due to the decomposition of plant material, such as leaves and roots, in the soil.

Their natural presence can come into contact with the well water and form a chemical reaction. The resulting well water takes on a yellow or brownish tint, often resembling tea or coffee in appearance.

Generally, they are not harmful to human health; however, their presence can affect the taste, odor, and appearance of the water. 

6. Presence of Sulfur Compounds

If your yellow or cloudy well water gives a rotten egg-like smell, your water probably contains sulfur compounds, such as hydrogen sulfide (H₂S) or sulfates. 

Just like iron bacteria, bacteria found a good habitat with the sulfur compounds to form sulfur bacteria that produce hydrogen sulfide gas, which dissolves in water. ultimately, this gas induces a cloudy or yellowish-green color and foul odor.  

The sulfur compounds affect the water quality and can be harmful to your health if consumed in the long term. However, Its Short-term exposure can lead to eye and throat irritation, nausea, and headache. 

It is advisable to ensure adequate ventilation or keep the water in an open area so that it can drain easily. If your area is excessively affected by the sulfur compounds, then installing a treatment system will be suggested. 

7. Heavy Rainfall 

After heavy rainfall or a natural disaster such as flooding, have you ever noticed the muddy water? If not, Pour a glass of water and wait until the yellowish mud-like material settles down after a while. If yes, your well water is affected by sedimentation or leaching

Usually, Rainwater seeps into the earth, soaking up nutrients from the soil and traveling through aquifers below the surface, adding up minerals and organic material. This water infiltrates deeper into the earth and promotes all the reasons that I mentioned above. 

How to Fix Yellow Well Water?

How to Fix Yellow Well Water

You can get rid of yellow well water by flushing it or installing a water filtration system. If rusted and broken pipes are the culprit, then you must change or replace them.  

Whatever the cause, I have suggested the best-ever solutions that will help you to access safe water. 

1. Test your Water Quality

Determining the cause of contamination by testing water quality is the first step before fixing the well issues.

The most reliable findings will come from laboratory testing; it will help to know the exact contamination, including pH, hardness, TDS, sediment, heavy metals, and microorganisms. Still, if you’re looking for a less expensive option, you can also use an at-home DIY test kit.

You can choose the best course of action once you’ve identified the issue’s root cause. 

2. Flush out Your Well Using Bleach

Flush out Your Well Using Bleach

Regular maintenance and flushing are crucial when water quality is your concern. Flushing it with disinfectant such as bleach or any other is a plus. It really helps to remove bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants. 

Here’s a step-by-step procedure to flush your well with bleach:

  1. Firstly, determine how much bleach is necessary for disinfection based on the depth and volume of the water in your well. (For every 100 feet of well depth, you’ll typically need 1-2 quarts of bleach).
  2. Make a solution in your clean container by adding the proper quantity of bleach and water. 
  3. Shut off the well pump and power source. Now, pour the bleach solution directly into the well casing. 
  4. Turn on the garden hose and attach it to the nearest outside faucet. Re-insert the hose into the well casing and give the bleach solution at least 15 to 20 minutes to circulate through the well. 
  5. Open all the home’s faucets and allow the water to run until it clears up. 
  6. Reconnect your well pump’s power supply and switch it back on.

Safety comes first!

To avoid coming into contact with bleach, make sure you are using the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves and safety goggles. 

Chlorination is good for iron bacteria contamination in well water. It can help manage iron bacteria populations. Still, you need to repeat it periodically to maintain control, but it’s not an enduring solution for specific quality concerns. In this case, we suggest consulting with a professional well water specialist for guidance and assistance.

3. Installing a Suitable Treatment System

No matter what contamination is present, these are the following systems that will assist you.

Sediment Filters

Sediment filters are highly effective at filtering out sand, silt, rust, scale, and other debris in your well. They have 1-5 micron porous media that work by trapping the solid impurities while allowing the filtered water to pass through them. 

Sediment filters are commonly installed with whole-house water filters at the point of entry. They are used as a pre-filter in various water filtration systems, such as carbon filters and reverse osmosis membranes, from damage and clogging.

Greensand Filter and Air-Oxidation Injection

They both are used as iron filters, which are used to eliminate iron, manganese, and hydrogen sulfide from well water.

The Greensand filter uses a mineral-based media, “greensand,” which is coated with manganese oxide, which works as ion exchange and oxidation. This media made a bond with the impurities, trapped them, and flushed them out of the filter. 

Air-oxidation injection systems work by the oxidation of dissolved iron and manganese from their soluble to insoluble forms. Once oxidized, the iron and manganese are separated as an impurity. 

Greensand filters are generally installed as point-of-entry (POE) systems, while air-oxidation injection systems can be installed at the wellhead or within a treatment system. Both of them are suitable for the removal of iron, manganese, and sulfate compounds. However, you can choose one of them depending on your ease and budget. 

Activated Carbon Filters

Activated carbon filters use highly porous carbon media that adsorb and trap impurities from water. These are the efficient filters if your water source has sediments, VOCs, tannins, heavy metals, chlorine, and chloramines.

You can install them on specific faucets or appliances, such as under-sink filters, refrigerator filters, or showerhead filters. For efficient results, we suggest you use them with Ion, exchange, reverse osmosis, and sediment filters. 

Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration

RO filters are the solution to every yellow water problem, whether you want to remove sediments, heavy metals, salts like magnesium and calcium, microorganisms, parasites, VOCs, and many more. 

These filters use an RO membrane with a small micron rating, which effectively removes the smallest impurities. For better results, you must install pre-filters, such as sediment filters, and post-filters as carbon filters and ion exchange. 

4. Replace the Corrosive and Broken Pipes

If your water turns yellow because of rusted and broken pipes, replacing the new ones is the best solution. Although it offers a huge expense, but essential to maintain water safety, prevent health risks, and extend the longevity of your well infrastructure.

5. Call to a Plumber or Professional For Installation

We suggest you call a professional expert or plumber for the installation of the well component and filtration system. He has in-depth knowledge of drilling, casing, sealing, and installing pumps, filters, and associated equipment. 

Furthermore, hiring professionals benefits by giving maintenance tips, water quality testing, and troubleshooting services. Plus, it will help you avoid costly mistakes, ensure water quality, and provide peace of mind regarding your well system’s efficiency. 


In the end, if your water turns yellow all of a sudden, often, it’s not a direct health concern, but it can lead to aesthetic issues staining fixtures, clothes, appliances, skin, and hair. However, you can easily fix it if the cause is determined. ‘

It’s better to test the water than to guess it by yourself. So, We suggest you test your water quality and treat your well with a suitable system in order to stay hydrated. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is Yellow Water Safe to Bathe in?

Yes, bathing with yellow water is safe, but you won’t feel as refreshed from this water as from fresh water. However, The cause of the color and the source of the water are very important. Your water may be high in tannins from minerals like iron or manganese, sediment, or even decaying plants. In this case, your skin and hair become dry, or you may have eye and skin irritation.

Why is My Cold Water Yellow and Hot water Clear?

The hot water could be yellow because of contaminants like iron, manganese, sediments, tannins, and dissolved gases. However, the hot water releases the high pressure, and the air is released as little bubbles in your water. These bubbles float up onto the water, leaving it neat and clean water.

Is Yellow Well Water Safe to Drink?

Yes, it doesn’t affect health, but it could be harmful if consumed for a long time. The presence of tannins, sediments, iron, and manganese doesn’t pose negative health effects. However, they produce a metallic taste, unpleasant smell, and decolorization in well water. More importantly, the above contaminants, with the organic and inorganic impurities, are dangerous to take, so it is the best idea to test the water’s quality and treat it for safety. 

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