Why is My Water Brown all of a sudden?

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why is my water brown

It can be disappointing to open the tap and your thirst is met with brown tap water. You may begin to ask yourself several questions. 

  • Is there a problem with my plumbing system? 
  • Will drinking brown water affect me? 
  • Why is my water brown? 
  • The water should be safe because it is not murky, right? 

This article will guide you through the causes of brown water, finding a solution to your problem, and determining whether or not hiring a professional plumber is necessary.

While you can access clean water for a better part of the year, some situations can occur and alter this. The most prevalent causes of brown tap water in your home include rust, minerals, and sediment build-up.

These substances can build up over time in the water mains. When you notice the water from your tap turning brown, it means that there has been a disruption in your home pipes or in the water main, which has stirred up these deposits. 

This could happen for a variety of reasons. Main breaks and nearby construction or repairs can mix these sediments, causing the water to turn brown. Other factors include an increase in water flow through the pipes due to an increase in the water demand in your local area, or there is an emergency, and the local fire department has opened a hydrant, resulting in a lot of water flowing in the pipes.

In both circumstances, mineral deposits that have stuck to the interior of the pipes over time are dislodged by the increasing water flow. You may notice that the color is going back to normal when you have proper water pressure.

Why Is My Water Brown?

The three most common reasons for Brown Water is your home is caused by Rust, Minerals and Sediment build up. These substances can build up over time in your pipes and water system.

Why Is My Water Brown All Of A Sudden?

Disturbance in minerals

A disruption in the minerals or sediment in your water is one of the most prevalent reasons why your water has become brown in your home. These minerals and sediments are usually present in water and pipelines as a result of natural processes. 

It is possible that construction near your property or repairs on the main water line has caused a disruption. In most cases, this issue will resolve itself within a few hours after the alteration stops.

Rusty Pipes

If you open the tap fully and let the water run for a few minutes, does the water get clear? If that’s the case, then rust could be the culprit. Galvanized wrought iron pipes tend to rust after some time, and water could dislodge it from the pipes when it is flowing at high pressure. 

Making your coffee or tea with this water could result in an unpleasant taste. It could also stain your clothes when you do laundry with it.

In addition, a high concentration of rust in pipes may result in low water pressure. To fix this, you will need to add water filters in your kitchen and laundry faucets or replace your old pipes.

Change of Water Pressure

When the pressure of the water flowing through your pipes changes due to routine maintenance or water main breaks, it could stir rust particles, dirt, and silt that line the inside of the pipes. 

Unfortunately, as the country’s water system ages, these disruptions become more and more regular. Accidents on the city water occur regularly. If your water gets discolored in one day and all your home faucets are emitting discolored water, then there are high chances that the problem is due to a pressure change in your city’s water lines.

Brown water occurs within a short time, but if the problem is with the city’s water lines, then it could be a while before things get back to normal. We recommend avoiding the use of hot water during temporary instances like this to prevent your water heater from receiving brown water. This could result in damage to the heater, and if the dirt settles in the heater, then you’ll be having several days of hot brown water.

If your city’s water is consistently discolored, you might want to consider installing a filter.

Older water lines in your home are corroding

Galvanized steel water lines were used in many residences built before 1960. As the water lines age, rusty silt builds up in them, mixing with the water and coming out as brown water. 

If only a few taps in your home are emitting brown water, or if you only experience discolored water in the morning and it clears out after a few minutes, changing your faucet could help. There is a high chance that the problem is within your home water system.

You could also consider a point-of-use treatment system to ensure your water is clean and tastes fresh. For a long-term solution, however, you may want to replace your water lines.

Periods of drought or high rains

Many homeowners who get their water from a private well know that their water contains a large amount of iron, and they take measures to reduce the iron percentage in the water they consume. 

However, weather extremes could significantly change the water table. The variation can be so severe in some circumstances to the extent that conventional water treatment equipment will be unable to handle the additional iron.

If you have discolored water due to intense weather, you could consider getting a powerful iron removal solution that can handle a large amount of iron.

High demand for water during drought

Some cities rely on surface rivers and streams for their water supply. 

When water is in great demand, for example, during times of drought, the fresh surface water combines with sediment that comes from the bottom of the river and flows to your tap, giving you murky water.

Suppose your faucets consistently supply discolored water in the same season each year. In that case, it would be best if you install a filter in your home pipes.

Filtration equipment isn’t working correctly.

While it’s uncommon, certain small communities may encounter discolored water due to water treatment equipment that wasn’t intended to handle the existent volume of water. It could also be as a result of filtration equipment that is in need of repair.

If what you are experiencing doesn’t seem to fit any of the other causes listed above, you should reach out to your local authorities to find out the cause.

If the problem persists, you can install a whole house filter to ensure your water is always clean and clear.

Is Brown Water Dangerous or Harmful?

To Drink

Even though most people are concerned about the water’s brown color, the truth is that it is practically safe to drink because it contains no poisonous or toxic ingredients. The color is only noticeable because of the rust on the iron. 

Iron is a widespread element in soil that occurs naturally. It is also present in your drinking water, though in much smaller amounts.

Nonetheless, you should address the issue as soon as possible because too much iron or rusty iron changes the taste of your water. For pipe replacement, repair, or treatment, contact a skilled local plumber.

Brown water from faucets can only be harmful to people suffering from hemochromatosis. Hemochromatosis is a rare illness that causes excessive iron deposition in their body organs. 

However, we don’t recommend drinking it even if you don’t suffer from the condition. You may neither like the taste nor the color.

To do Laundry

Brown water from the tap may not necessarily be a health concern, but it can cause some inconveniences when it comes to laundry. Using brown water to do your laundry may result in unpleasant stains on your clothes as well as in your sink and other fixtures.

This is because minerals like iron are adhesive, meaning they attach to almost every surface they get into contact with. Even clear water can cause stains in a toilet bowl or bathroom tub if it lingers for too long. Iron concentrations as low as 0.3 ppm can induce stains. 

To your Skin

You could choose to shower with brown water, though you will probably not have the most pleasant experience. If the discolored water does not clear up after some time, it is probably more than a small inconvenience. 

The persistent brown water from the faucet could be due to a rusty plumbing line which is dangerous.

Rusty water in your pipes provides a breeding habitat for germs and bacteria. The plumbing pipes carrying this water may end up corroding and splitting. This would expose your water supply to toxins in the air.

When To Fix It Yourself or Call a Plumber

Follow these instructions to see if you can get rid of the brown water from the tap and, if not, what steps you may take to fix the problem.

1. Open your tap and let cold water run at full pressure for about ten minutes. If the water clears, you don’t need to worry further. 

2. If the water clears but you can still see some bits of brown water, you may have to install a water filtration system and/or a water softener. They serve to remove iron particles hence making the water in your water supply clear. These systems need to be maintained on a regular basis, and you can do most of this maintenance yourself. On the other hand, certain filtering systems may necessitate regular maintenance by a professional water treatment technician.

3. If your water remains brown, inquire from your neighbors whether they are experiencing the same problem. If they are, then the issue is certainly with the city’s water system. Request the city’s utility provider to assess the pipes and flush them out.

4. If you get your water from a well and you’ve recently had a lot of rain, the problem could be the considerable changes in the water table. The water table fluctuation can be so significant in some circumstances that existing water treatment equipment will be unable to handle the additional iron. You may require a filtration system or another iron removal solution.

5. Determine whether the brown water is from hot or cold water. If only the hot water is turning brown, then you need to clean your water heater. Scale from the inside of the water heater may have sunk to the bottom and muddied the water, or your water tank may be rusted on the inside. Rust is another sign that your water heater is nearing the end of its useful life. Whatever the case may be, if brown water is present only when you turn on the hot water, you need to get a qualified plumber to inspect your water heater.

You can get rid of iron stains using a variety of ways, for example, using hot water with baking soda, dishwashing soap, or vinegar. You don’t want to be doing that all the time, though. It would be better if you solved the issue at its root. 

However, before you consider hiring a plumber, you should first assess if the issue is temporary or not. Call a plumber if the issue is persistent.


An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Regular water system maintenance could save you from a lot of trouble. In most instances, brown tap water is a temporary issue that should clear out on its own after a few minutes of letting the water run. 

If your neighbors also have the same issue, it is best to reach out to the local council as it is most probable that the problem is beyond your home pipes. 

Your local water supplier can assess your pipes more closely, determine the source of the brown water, and flush out any brown water in the pipes using a fire hydrant. You may also inquire about whether they test their water for secondary contaminants, which could affect the look, taste, and smell of your water. 

The H2Home Lab team is dedicated to helping you find the best solutions to your specific water needs, as well as provide troubleshooting tips and guides for water filtration, heating, softening and plumbing. We hope you will find the info you need on our site from any one of our buying guides or subject matter articles.

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