Why is My Well Water Yellow? 3 Common Reasons

There are instances when you suddenly notice the color of your water in the well has turned yellow. You don’t need an expert to prove that the water isn’t safe to use or consume. The first thing you want to know is why it is happening and how to restore the original color of the water, which proves its cleanliness.

If you notice the water in your well has taken a yellow color, there are various reasons behind it. Let’s list down the results so we can further look at them in detail and find the possible solution to the problem.

Why is my well water yellow? know all about it.
Why is My Well Water Yellow?
  • Iron Contamination.
  • Iron Bacterial Contamination.
  • Organic Material.
  • Rusty Pipes.

These are the main reasons for turning the water in a well to go yellow. Any one of the reasons may be the cause for that, or it may be a combination of both. So to get rid of the yellow color in your water, it is advisable to work on all the possible reasons and react accordingly.

Let’s look in detail to understand how the water in the well gets yellow.

Why is My Well Water Yellow? Explained

There are mainly four reasons to turn your crystal clear water in the well to yellow.

💧Iron Contamination

There’s nothing new about iron when exposed to oxygen rusts. Iron is naturally present in the earth, hence its presence in private wells. When the iron rusts, it gradually drains into the water of your well. This iron is mainly called ferric iron.

This water has a metallic taste and may give out an unpleasant odor if ferric iron is present at high levels. Though there aren’t any health risks connected with ferric iron, it can damage your property and leave stains on clothes, dishes, sinks, and utensils.

Eventually, it will deposit on most home appliances and plumbing systems wherever this water is used and clog them to get repaired or replaced.

Reasons for the yellow color of water

💧Iron Bacterial Contamination

Many complex things are happening in nature. One such thing is iron getting mixed with some bacteria from soil. When this combination finds a way into the water of your well, the water turns yellow and slimy. 

Though the bacteria isn’t a risk to your health, the sludge that eventually gets deposited in a significant proportion can be a breeding ground for other organisms like mold, mildew, or E. Coli, which pose a threat to your health.

If you encounter any of the following, it is mainly due to Iron Bacterial Contamination.

  1. The water has an awful taste and odor similar to sewage water or rotten vegetation. 
  2. You may find water-well screens and pipes clogged, reducing the water flow.

💧Organic Material

One of the byproducts generated due to natural fermentation by breaking down decaying vegetation is an organic material named Tannin. They get carried away with the water in your well via the sludgy soil to the well’s aquifer.

There is no health risk associated with Tannins, except for the yellow color, a slightly acidic or bitter taste, and stale odor. They can also stain your clothes and kitchen plates if washed using this water.

If you live in marshy, coastal, and low-lying areas, you may have to encounter this problem frequently.

So, when I was concerned about why is my well water yellow, above are the three main reasons I could find.

💧Rusty Pipes

Rusty pipes aren’t the reason for the yellow color of the water in your well. But if your tap water is spitting yellow water, you need to check your plumbing system, faucets, or any other water source, whether they have gathered rust.

This problem mainly occurs in the earlier built houses, where the zinc lining tatters away from the galvanized pipes. Though rust may not be a reason for your ill health, it may encourage certain health-hazard bacteria and mold to breed and grow.

While rust contamination rarely causes health issues, a rusty environment can promote the growth of disease-causing bacteria and mold. If the tap water is opened after a long while and gives out yellow water for some time followed by clear water, it’s a confirmed indication of rusty pipes.

Many times, only a specific tap may be giving out yellow water, then you will take action only on that fixture.

How do you remove yellow from well water?

There are several methods to remove the yellow from well water once you know the main reason for the problem.

The first preference you should give is to regular checkup of the water, ensuring you get clean water throughout the year. The local health department may come to your aid and test for bacteria or other minerals in your well. Or you can find a state-certified lab to test the reason and act accordingly.

Reasons for the yellow color of water

Once you are through with the test and have identified the exact reason for getting the water yellow, you can apply the apt solution to remove the yellow.

💧Iron Filter System

Once you are sure the yellow water is due to iron contamination, the perfect solution will be to use an iron filter system, a water filtration system that removes iron. You can also use ion exchange systems and oxidizing filters to remove iron from the water.

💧Iron Bacteria Removal Process

If this is the reason, the best solution is to call for professional services. It will be a bit difficult to implement this treatment on your own. It requires using disinfectants, surfactants, chlorine, pasteurization, and acids in correct proportion, so leaving this thing to the experts is the best option.

💧Tannin Filters

If you narrow down your reason to the presence of tannins for the yellow color of your well water, using tannin filters is the best solution.

You can remove tannin with tannin filters if they are in a small quantity. If the tannin levels have high growth, you may have to install an advanced RO filter system. Seeking professional guidance is also recommended in this case.

💧Replacing Old Pipes

If you notice this is the reason for yellow water coming from your tap, you need to immediately replace them with new ones with the help of a certified professional.

💧Reverse Osmosis System

The reverse osmosis system is the best system to give you the safest water for consumption. It will block all contaminants, minerals, and fluoride to provide purified water.

💧Activated Carbon Filter

Apply this method to remove tannins, iron, and bacteria from yellow water. The filter adsorbs the contaminants on the filter media surface. You will need to replace the activated carbon filters periodically, based on the contamination level of your water.


This procedure involves the addition of chlorine to water that results removing of the contaminants. You need to get it done with the help of an expert who knows what quantity of chlorine needs to go into a particular water reservoir.

This process is applied to remove iron bacteria. Once you remove the iron bacteria, you can remove the chlorine from water, as the presence of chlorine in water leads to a bad taste and smell.

How do you remove yellow from well water?

💧UV Disinfectant

You should take help from a certified professional to get this treatment. It involves the usage of ultraviolet light to exterminate bacteria and other microorganisms.

Testing the water to ensure it’s safe for usage

Your work doesn’t stop after implementing the treatment solutions to remove the yellow from your well water. It’s crucial to run another confirmatory test that the treatment has effectively removed all the contaminants and minerals from the water, which you can use for various purposes.

If any treatment process involves using Chlorine, you should test the chlorine percentage in the water to be on the safer side.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q.1. Is it safe to shower in yellow water?

Ans.: No, the yellow water may contain traces of iron and other minerals, which may be bad for your hair and skin. In addition, if the yellow water is due to corroded pipes or iron bacteria contamination at the source, it may pose a risk to your health.

Q.2. Is it normal for well water to be yellow?

Ans.: No, you need to find reasons why the water has turned yellow and get it cleaned with various treatments according to the cause.

Q.3. Why did my well water suddenly turn yellow?

Ans.: It may be for reasons like contamination of iron bacteria, tannins, ferric iron mixing with water, and rusty pipes. It may also be due to snow melting or sudden rains that carry the contaminants from the ground to your well.

Q.4. What does yellow well water mean?

Ans.: It means something is wrong with the water in your well, and you need to address the issue immediately.


The water having yellow color in your well is an indication to get it treated immediately. It may contain minerals, bacteria, and organic material that are not good in the long term. 

Water having minerals are harmful to the skin and hair and leave stains on your clothes and kitchen utensils. They may also leave deposits of minerals on your bathrooms and washrooms and damage your home appliances and plumbing systems.