Boil Water FAQs

Boil Water FAQs

Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner

Boil Water Questions and Answers

1. Why has a precautionary boil water advisory been issued for my neighborhood?
    During some water system repairs or replacements, the water system serving your neighborhood may have been temporarily 
    depressurized. Whenever a water system loses pressure, there is the potential for contaminants to enter the system. By boiling
    water before consumption, you minimize potential health risks.

2. When is it safe to cook, wash, drink and clean with the water?
    It is safe to drink after the boil water advisory has been lifted.

3. Is it safe to shower during a boil water advisory?
    Yes. The water can be used for showering, baths, and shaving, but do not swallow water or allow it to get in your eyes, nose, or
    mouth. Supervise children and disabled individuals during their bath to make sure water is not swallowed. It’s also a good idea
    to minimize bathing time. Though the risk of illness is minimal, individuals who have recent surgical wounds, have compromised
    immune systems, or have a chronic illness may want to consider using bottled or boiled water for cleansing until the advisory is
    lifted. Anyone with questions or concerns should contact their healthcare provider.

4. Is it safe to brush your teeth during a boil water advisory?
    No. You should use boiled water.

5. Should I take any precautions when washing dishes?
    Yes, it is recommended that you wash dishes by hand and use a bleach solution (1 teaspoon bleach per gallon of water. Bleach
    solution should say it contains 8.25% of sodium hypochlorite). Soak the rinsed dishes in the sanitizer solution for at least 1
    minute. Allow dishes to completely air dry. If you use a dishwasher, you should run the dishwasher through the hottest or
    'sanitize' cycle. Following the sanitizing step, use a clean basin to make a bleach solution of 1 teaspoon bleach per gallon of
    water. Remove the dishes from the dishwasher and soak in the sanitizer solution for at least 1 minute. Let the dishes air dry
    completely before using again.

6. How long should I boil water during a boil water advisory?
    The water should reach a rolling boil and boil for 1 minute.

7. Do I have to let the water stand after I boil it?
    Unless you’re making coffee, tea or some other hot drink, you should let the water stand for about 15 minutes to minimize the
    chance of burning yourself..

8. Why is the water milky or discolored? What should I do to get rid of the discoloring? Is it safe to use this water?
    If a glass of water is a milky or cloudy color and gradually becomes clear, (from the bottom of the glass to the surface of the
    water) after a few minutes, that’s an indication that air is in the water. Air in the water is an aesthetic issue and not a health
    concern. You can address this issue by flushing your lines, starting with the outside hose bib closest to where the service line
    enters your home. Flush outside about 10 minutes, then flush your inside faucets, etc. until the water is clear. It is safe to drink
    the water after the boil water notice has been lifted.

9. My house is on a community well, should I do something different to get rid of the discolored water? 
     Yes. If your water is yellow, orange, red or brown, it may be due to iron in the well water. Iron is not a health hazard, but the
     discoloration could be a nuisance. If you have a water softener or filter, bypass it and then check to determine if the water color
     has changed. If it is clear, then you should follow equipment maintenance requirements on your softener. If the bypassed water
     is discolored, it may be due to increased flow velocity in the water mains. Check and flush your outside hose bib closest to
     where the service line enters your home. If a hydrant was used, it may take a day for the water to clear. If the discoloring
     persists, you can contact our Billing Services Department at 248-858-1110, to schedule a low-pressure service line flush. It is
     safe to drink the water after the boil water notice has been lifted.

10. When trying to flush water lines, should I also drain my hot water heater?
     Yes. Hot water tanks should be drained after the boil water notice has been lifted. To drain your hot water tank, use only the
     hot water faucet and run it until the water becomes cool. That indicates that the water in the tank has been successfully

11. Are there any precautions I should take when I have low water pressure?
      No. However, you may want to store some water in case you lose all water pressure.

12. Does the use of bleach purify my water? 
      Yes. When boiling your water is not practical, chemical disinfection should be used. You can use bleach to disinfect drinking
      water. The Oakland County Health Division recommendations the following: 
      Disinfect tap water by adding 8 drops (about 1/8 teaspoon) of plain unscented household bleach to a gallon of water.
             • Thoroughly mix the solution and allow the water to stand for 30 minutes.
             • If the water is cloudy, repeat the process.
             • To prevent contamination, use a container with a cap or cover for disinfecting and storing water to be used later 
               for drinking.

Available Chorine​Drops per Quart of Clear Water

(If strength is unknown, add ten drops per quart of water. Double amount of chlorine for cloudy or colored water). The treated water should be mixed thoroughly and allowed to stand for 30 minutes. The water should have a slight chlorine odor; if not, repeat the dosage and allow the water to stand for an additional 15 minutes. If the treated water has too strong a chlorine taste, it can be made more pleasing by allowing the water to stand exposed to the air for a few hours or by pouring it from one clean container to another several times.)