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This may be expected behavior but I thought I'd ask anyway...

We recently had gas turned off at our house in preparation for a fumigation this weekend. We have a gas water heater (with a tank) so this means we don't have any hot water. What's strange though is that when I turn on the hot water valve on our bathroom sink, the water that comes out looks foggy/gray... almost like there's a cream or white liquid in it.

Any ideas why this is? It's clear if we just turn on cold water.

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1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Could be that your water has some minerals in it. I noticed some cloudy water and a funny taste when I first moved into my house. I searched online for a water analysis company and for about $150 they sent me a kit to collect water samples and analyzed it for several minerals.

Turns out I have a VERY high calcium content. According to their findings there is no upper limit to the amount of calcium you can have in your water but it will make it taste funny and cloud the water/give it a funny taste. Depending on how old your hot water tank is you may have some sediment built up in the bottom.

If you haven't ever done it I'd recommend looking up a company that does water analysis, they'll normally send you a kit with a number of bottles and instructions on how to collect samples. It's a few hundred dollars but it's generally worth the peace of mind to know what you're potentially drinking/showering with. Here is an example of a water testing company. The price looks to be about $120 (plus shipping the test sample back to them).

Depending on what's in your water, you may want to flush your hot water tank as well. Here is a set of instructions on how to do it. I do it about once a year. It uses alot of water but it helps extend the life of your hot water tank and provides a more efficient heating of the water.

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+1 for flushing the tank. This is just a guess, but it may be that having the heater turned off has disrupted some long-standing stratification of the minerals in your tank, causing them to appear at your taps now. –  Mike Powell Oct 16 '10 at 13:50
    
@MikeB: your water utility may be able to provide some of the information that you'd get from an independent lab. The lab's results would be more comprehensive, but the utility's should be free (at least, it is in my state). –  Niall C. Oct 16 '10 at 14:17
    
I would take a glass of the water, and let it sit for a while. Does this settle out on the bottom? Or is it possible these are micro-bubbles? Does your hot water smell strange, like rotten eggs? –  user558 Oct 16 '10 at 14:29
    
Thanks guys! Really appreciate all of the helpful info. I suspect the water heater could use a good flush -- we just bought the house and I know that wasn't used for at least the past few months (maybe longer). I'll look into draining the tank before turning the water heater back on. –  Mike B Oct 16 '10 at 15:40
    
Just curious -- would the pro-lab water test be worth getting? It doesn't check for as much but could answer the calcium question... info available here: reliablelab.com/products.php#water_testing –  Mike B Oct 16 '10 at 15:42

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