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What Are the Most Common Causes of Water Discoloration?

Sometimes, the water from your faucet can turn a strange color. This issue can be concerning because clean water is essential in your daily life. However, not all causes of this problem require the attention of a professional plumber.



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Read on to learn the common causes of water discoloration.

List of Contents

Yellow Water

Your city’s water distribution center may be the one to blame if you’re seeing yellow water coming out of your faucet. Your city may be performing repairs on the local water main or a fire hydrant nearby could be experiencing problems. Also, your local water distribution center may be performing its yearly flushing program, where they increase water pressure to get rid of loose rust and fragments in the water lines. 

Green Water

Algae buildup is usually what causes green water to come out of your faucet. Over time, these microorganisms can grow due to blockage in a filter or other component of your plumbing system. A skilled professional can determine the location of the blockage and remove the algae from the system.


Green water can also come out of your faucet if you have old copper pipes. You’ll see stains in your sink and tub when copper evaporates into the water and leaves residue behind. Copper can be harmful to people when taken in massive amounts. Over time, it can even lead to health issues such as kidney and liver damage. 

Reddish Water

Minerals can build up in pipes made from galvanized iron or steel. These pipes have a protective zinc layer that can wear off over the years. When this happens, the underlying iron or steel will become exposed to water and begin to rust. 


Once the residue dissolves, the water passing through your pipes will turn a yellowish-red or brown color. This discolored water can leave stains on your clothes and furniture. It can also affect the taste and color of your food. If this occurs, you’ll need to have your pipes replaced with new ones that don’t rust. 


For your plumbing and heating needs, turn to Palo Alto. Call us at (650) 856-3400 or fill out our contact form to learn more about our services. We work with clients in Palo Alto and the surrounding communities.