Yellow Well Water Causes and Treatments

Discoloration issues are the most common with well water. Your water can get yellow, cloudy, orange, and brown, depending upon the contaminants in it. Well users have frequently reported the yellow well water problem. In this article, we will discuss all the causes behind yellow well water and how you can deal with it.

Generally, yellow water is not a health concern as it is related to the physical properties of water. You won’t be drinking colored water and using it for cooking, so you are safe.

Yellow Well Water: Reasons and Solutions

High Concentration of Iron and Manganese

A high concentration of iron and manganese can be the reason behind yellow-colored well water. Iron and manganese don’t pose a health risk but can affect the physical properties of water. If you notice yellow color appearing in your water after it is kept in a bucket or bathtub for some time, you are a victim of high iron and manganese content in your well. It is also possible that a high percentage of iron and manganese will alter the taste and smell of water.

Solution – An iron and manganese filter is the best solution to remove high proportions of iron and manganese from well water. If discoloration appears in a swimming pool, you can use a chelating agent or a pool filter to deal with it. For wells with low iron concentrations, a water softener with a dedicated iron filter can also be used. Some people prefer using a combo filter which deals with iron and other contaminants simultaneously.

Also see: How to Fill a Swimming Pool with Well Water?

Iron Bacteria

Iron in well water

Iron bacteria are a common reason behind yellow colored water from your well. When bacteria combine with iron, manganese, and oxygen, it is termed as iron bacteria. Iron bacteria are not harmful to human health but cause discoloration and change the taste and smell of water.

Solution – The best way to deal with all the bacteria in well water is disinfection using chlorinator. You can choose between chock chlorination and a chlorinator machine. Both methods are equally effective. While there is a risk of adding more chlorine in your well when using chlorination, chlorinator requires periodic refilling of the chlorine. A filtration treatment plant is needed to remove the excess chlorine from water and make it drinkable.



Tannins (a yellowish or brownish bitter-tasting organic substance present in some galls, barks, and other plant tissues) are often the reason for yellow-colored water. Tree debris decomposes and forms tannins; it then gets into your water through seeping or damaged well cap. Tannins are harmless and don’t pose any threat to human health.

Solution – Keeping the area near your well neat and clean will reduce the amount of tannin getting in your well. Periodic raking will help you clean it. You can also install sloped concrete pads near your well cap to ensure that rainwater and tree debris doesn’t accumulate there. A more professional approach will be to install a designated sediment filter. Most water filters come with a pre-sediment filter to help you remove sediment from water. Activated carbon filters are also effective for removing tannic acid from the water.

Well Structural Problems

The cause of yellow well water can also be linked to well structural problems. A damaged well casing, screen, or well cap might be making way for iron to add up in well and give yellow color to well water.

Solution – It is best to get your well inspected when the water changes color, taste, or smell. You can inspect the outside of the well and well cap yourself. To get the well casing and screen inspected, you would need the services of professional well drillers.

Yellow Hot Water

A lot of private well users have reported that only hot water gets yellow. If you have noticed hot water getting yellow, the problem is with the heater or water lines associated with it. To confirm the issue, turn on the hot water tap only.

Solution – If you have diagnosed the problem, the best way to go about it is to flush your water heater. If the problem persists, there is something wrong with the water pipes linked to it; you may need to replace a section of these pipes. If you still face the problem, you may need to replace the water heater.

Plumbing Pipe Issues

Yellow color can also happen due to infrastructural problems at your home. The water may be bringing iron from the pipes to your faucets. This problem can happen to your whole house or a particular washroom or just in the kitchen. It is common in homes with old plumbing systems.

Solution – If every tap in your house is giving yellow water and you have checked everything else mentioned above, you need to replace your home’s plumbing system. If this problem is limited to one washroom or a specific area of your home, the water pipes associated with it are leaking rust and need to be replaced.

Get your Water Tested

The best approach in dealing with the yellow water and finding an appropriate solution will be to get your water tested. You must contact a state-approved facility to conduct the tests on your water as the results will be reliable. Once you know the cause, you can deal with the problem and look for a solution to cut the root cause.

Final Words – What’s the best way to deal with Yellow Well Water?

Your goal must be to make your water safe to drink with a pleasant taste and no smells and colors. The most important thing to achieve this is to get your water tested and then adopt the best technique. You may need to consult a professional driller to find out the best solution. Please keep in mind the state and local laws while modifying, deepening, or installing any filtration/softening system.


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