Off The Wall: Cloudy hot water
I have a customer who is getting milky white water from the kitchen sink faucet, only the hot and only this fixture. The rest of the house is crystal clear. We replaced the faucet, thinking it may be pulling in air through a small leak in the cartridge causing a Venturi effect, but no luck. We then disconnected the supply tube and got the same milky water.
I have drained and flushed the water heater. The faucet has a point-of-use charcoal filter on the spout, but with the filter on or off we get the same water. We are located north of Chicago with Lake Michigan water that has, as they say, one of the best treatment plants in the country. I’ve been in this industry for 33 years and have never seen anything like this. Tim
Are the supply lines copper or plastic? Is the dishwasher tee’d in? billtwocase
Copper lines and yes, the dishwasher is tee’d in with a 1/2-in. tee and angle stop. It may be possible that this connection is causing some sort of Venturi effect; never even considered that a possible cause. Maybe a leak at the air gap fitting on the dishwasher is pulling air in but not leaking water out? Tim
Does the water clear up after a minute or so? Is there a precipitate in the water? I hate to say it, but you may have to re-pipe that entire section to ensure that there is nothing odd in the piping. kcopp
You got me with precipitate. I am concerned that there may be something in the piping that is causing excessive turbulence. I am going to shut off the dishwasher stop to see if that will make a difference. Tim
It might be something caught in the pipe. Do you get the same milky water in the dishwasher? Steamhead
A possible source of this could be an overactive anode. Is the water treated in any way? Larry Weingarten
This is a typical condo. What is weird is the amount of cloudiness and the fact that it only happens in one fixture. The water service comes in the basement and runs across the ceiling to the water heater with the exception of one 3/4-in. line which feeds the kitchen (the other fixtures are on the other side of the house above the heater). From the heater it has a 3/4-in. hot water pipe that runs along the ceiling to the kitchen. The kitchen has milky white hot and cold water.
The anode rod is magnesium, which is standard for this area. No other neighbors have the problem even though they have the same condo layout and most likely the same plumber did the install. One thing that I did not mention is that the service had a magnetic fluid conditioning system attached to it, which has been removed. Tim
I don’t understand the cloudiness being in both hot and cold. Does the cloudiness clear from a glass after a minute or so? This tells us if it really is a gas in the water. Does it only happen on first draw in the morning, or is it still cloudy even on the second and third draws? This indicates the gas is or isn’t finding a high spot in the piping to hang out. It also is a clue about the gas being generated slowly overnight.
A hypothesis to check is whether the anode is involved. Removing the rod for only a few days and putting a plug in its place will show whether the amount of gas at the tap is reduced or stopped. If it is, you know the anode is involved. Larry Weingarten
Removing the anode is about the only thing I have not done yet; that will be my next move. The water is cloudy all times of the day, even running continuously it still remains cloudy. However, at some moment it will clear up considerably but not completely and we can’t seem to figure out what causes it to clear up. Tim
To read more on this topic or suggest a solution, click here. For other topics, visit The Wall.