How Do You Know if Water in Your House is Safe?

Although water is essential for our survival, impurities and chemical compounds that are not safe for human consumption and use can easily make their way to our taps. This can be extremely damaging to our health and can put children, elders, and anyone with health issues at great risk. Unsafe water is not always easy to detect; it doesn’t necessarily have to be brown and sludgy. There are many instances in which the water in your home can be hazardous even when it looks nice and clear. If you suspect that your tap water is not safe for use, here’s what you need to look out for. 


Have you ever poured tap water into your glass just to find it slightly cloudy? Since this phenomenon is common and may not appear alarming, you may have brushed it off. However, safe water ideally should be clear, odorless, and tasteless. Cloudy water isn’t automatically dangerous to one’s health, but it could mean that there are unsafe pathogens and chemicals present in it. 

Sliminess and Hardness

Unsafe water can have a harder texture than usual. Build up of many substances like calcium and magnesium can result in this hard texture, leaving deposits in your sink, faucet, or even dishes. Additional substances can also make your hands feel slimy after you wash them with soap and water. This may require you to use more laundry detergent while washing your clothes to ensure cleanliness. While sliminess and hardness as a result of excess magnesium or calcium may not be dangerous, they can still signify the presence of harmful metals like aluminum, manganese, and lead.

Yellow, Orange, or Brown Water

These are obvious signs that there is something wrong with your water, making it very unsafe. If your water is yellow, this may indicate the presence of chromium-6, a carcinogenic chemical. Buildups of iron, manganese, copper, or lead can also cause your water to appear yellow. If you get your water from a public system and a yellowish tint appears only when you’re running cold water, it may simply be a result of your utility clearing out its pipes. Excess iron, manganese, or lead will make your water appear brown or orange. Brown or orange water also signals the presence of rust which would result in bacteria. Whatever the reason behind the coloration is, brown, yellow, or orange water is never safe for consumption. 

Green or Blue Tints

Water that is tinted blue or green signals the presence of excess amounts of copper as a result of corroded pipes.  Very small doses of copper aren’t seriously alarming because they are not damaging to your health. However, the prolonged consumption of high amounts of copper can be damaging to the kidneys and liver and can cause anemia. 

Bleach Odor

Chlorine is typically added to water to kill pathogens and germs. However, the experts at suggest that a few harmful substances can be produced when this chemical is mixed with other organic compounds. Trihalomethanes, or THMs, are one of these harmful byproducts. The consumption of this chemical is associated with kidney damage and issues, as well as an increased risk of cancer. Another byproduct, Haloacetic acids, or HAAs, is associated with skin irritation and increased cancer risk. Water that contains excess amounts of chlorine could smell like bleach. However, getting rid of chlorine from water isn’t a plausible solution because when there are low levels of chlorine, a parasite called Giardia could infest the water. This parasite often results in diarrhea, cramps, and nausea. If you suspect that your water contains high amounts of chlorine, you might want to invest in a water filter.

Rotten Odor

If your water smells like sewage or rotten eggs then it is highly unsafe to drink or use. This smell indicates that the water contains hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide can naturally develop underground and is a colorless gas, making it visually undetectable. However, this gas becomes very harmful when it is exposed to specific bacteria that convert it into sulfate. Sulfate can cause diarrhea and dehydration. 

Fishy Odor

Water that smells fishy can be a sign of barium or cadmium present in the water. Drilling or manufacturing processes can cause barium to leak into the water supply. High levels of barium can cause liver, heart, and kidney damage, high blood pressure, and muscle weakness. Industrial waste usually leads to cadmium, a chemical that is found in lead and copper ores, to seep into the water supply. High levels of cadmium can result in kidney, liver, and bone damage. 

Sometimes the water that we consume can be very unsafe even when it appears to be visibly fine. While water coloration signifies harmful contaminants, they are not the only signs to watch out for. Other signs can be very subtle and can appear through mild textures and odors. Because unsafe water is not always easy to detect, we have pinpointed the most common signs that there is something wrong with the water in your house.