Top 3 Reasons Why Is My Hot Water Yellow?

You head to the bathroom for your morning shower and turn on the water to let it heat up. After about a minute, you pull back the shower curtain, ready to switch the shower on and notice that the water coming out of the spigot is yellow. Shocked by the unexpected sight, you rethink enjoying a nice, hot shower and wonder why is your hot water yellow.

It’s a weekday morning before work, and time is running out. How long can you go without hot water?

You take a moment to think it through. The cold water in the sink seemed normal when you used it a minute ago.

Trying to enjoy a hot shower? Not with yellow water!
Trying to enjoy a hot shower? Not with yellow water!

“Is something wrong with the pipes to the bathtub and shower?” you wonder. Or, could it be a problem unique to your hot water?

Showering with yellow water is not an attractive option. Although, in a pinch, you might be willing to give it a try. Luckily, there’s probably a reasonable explanation for the yellow hot water situation. With the help of a professional plumber, you can get to the bottom of it.

3 Reasons That Answer Why Is Your Hot Water Yellow

There are a few common reasons that you may turn on the hot water and discover yellow water. What are they?

Is your hot water yellow?
Is your hot water yellow? Read about the 3 reasons why below.

Sediment in the Water Heater

Since only your hot water is affected, it makes sense that your water heater would have something to do with the problem. Over time, water heater tanks can accumulate sediment. The sediment is typically minerals from the water itself that settle into the bottom of the tank. Eventually, too much sediment builds up and causes the water to turn yellow.

In this situation, the solution is usually a simple tank cleaning. You can do this yourself or call in the help of a professional. Thankfully, draining the tank will get rid of the sediment and eliminate the problem.

A Colony of Iron Bacteria

Another common problem is iron bacteria. Before you worry, rest assured that iron bacteria pose no risk to your health. However, if left unchecked, this type of bacteria can damage your plumbing system, cause unpleasant odors, and of course, change the color of your water. This type of problem is most common in well-water systems, although they can also invade other types. The iron bacteria combine iron and oxygen and then create rust deposits and a slimy substance that sticks to pipes and plumbing features. Also, severe staining around your water fixtures is another common symptom of iron bacteria.

What’s the solution? With the help of a professional, you can get treatment for your colony of iron bacteria. Chlorination is the most common solution for colony removal. Another option is to reduce water stagnation within the water system. These bacteria thrive where water is still, so looping dead-end plumbing lines and periodic flushes to the system can help control bacteria growth.

This problem differs from rusting pipes which could be another problem you’re facing. Sometimes, the zinc wears off of galvanized pipes, exposing them to rust formation. Rust plaques grow and then eventually dissolve, showing up in your water by giving it a yellowish tinge. A plumber can help you tell the difference between these issues. Unfortunately, if you do have rusting pipes, you may need to replace them.

A High Bromine Level

Worried about yellow water in your spa or hot tub? There’s usually a different explanation for water discoloration in these systems. If you have a bromine spa system, you’re likely dealing with a high bromine level. Unfortunately, it’s a cyclical issue. When testing the water, individuals often think the pH looks higher than it is due to the test solution being discolored by the bromine in the first place. To solve the problem, the individual usually adds more bromine to balance the level. However, this only makes the problem worse. A true solution requires the user to rebalance the water before reading the test by adding about five drops of chlorine neutralizer, producing a more accurate sense of the correct pH. Then, try adjusting the hot tub’s pH. Once fixed, your water should lose the yellow tinge.

Yellow hot water is far from ideal, but thankfully, most of the causes of can be resolved either as a do it yourself project or call for a trusted plumbing professional that specializes in hot water heater repair in Orange County or an area near your home. So, don’t fear if you turn on the tap to find water with a yellow tinge. It’s nothing too serious. With a bit of investigation, you should be able to get to the bottom of the issue and find a solution.


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