Why Is My Water Brown All Of A Sudden: 7 Quick Fixes

Nobody wants brown water to come out of taps, be it at home or anywhere else.  If your tap water is brown, it means something is wrong with the water and it needs your immediate attention.

However, there’s no need to panic seeing brown water being discharged from taps. Brown water indicates a host of issues, which might be responsible for the change in water color.

Sometimes, brown water comes out because of corrosion in water pipes. When the pipes start to deteriorate physically, tiny pieces of materials, in the form of flakes join the water supply.  Sometimes rust, sediment, and minerals also accumulate in the water over time. All of these cause the water to become brown eventually. 

If you are currently receiving brown water from taps and pipes, this guide is for you. We have discussed the various reasons for brown water discharge and how to fix the issue. Therefore, without any further delay, let’s dive into the details. 

Why Is My Water Brown All Of A Sudden

What Does Brown Water Mean?

Is your tap discharging brownish water? Well, it’s certainly not a good sign. Discolored water means sediments are getting mixed in the path of the water supply.

Experts advise people to not use or drink brownish water, though it isn’t dangerous. Nevertheless, brownish water isn’t something you would like to receive.

Therefore, you must address the issue and resort to ways to solve it. But, before we go through some quick methods to fix it, we must know the probable causes of brown water. 

Why Is My Water Brown?

Why Is My Water Brown

A lot of people wonder why their tap water is brown in color. Some end up panicking. If you haven’t experienced brown water coming out of water taps ever before, there’s nothing to worry about.

Brownish water coming out from taps and sinks is an indication of any of the following cases:

Rust and corrosion in the pipes

Very few old buildings have galvanized iron pipes. Over time, these pipes start to corrode and rust. As a result, rust particles come out as flakes sometimes and join the water flowing through the pipes. When large amounts of rust particles get mixed with water, it results in a brownish discharge.

If you find that each of the taps is discharging brownish water, it means there’s a problem with the main water supply. Apart from galvanized iron pipes, there are lead service pipes too, which are also prone to corrosion. 

If you are receiving brownish water from taps quite frequently it’s probably time to call a plumber and change the old pipes with the latest ones with improved materials. 

The faucet hasn’t been in use for a long time

If you went on a long vacation or shifted to a building that hasn’t been occupied for a long time, you can expect brownish water to come out initially.

That’s because the sediments dried out when the water evaporated. This isn’t a serious cause. Keep the tap open and let the water run for some time. Soon you would receive non cloudy, clear water. 

Accumulation of sediment and minerals in the water heater tank

Usually, brownish water is discharged when sediments and minerals build up in the water heater tank. This is the most common cause of brown water.

Needless to say, water contains some useful minerals in it.  When it’s heated, the naturally occurring minerals like calcium and magnesium get accumulated at the base of the tank in small amounts. With time, these minerals get accumulated, causing hot water discoloration.

Another thing to pay attention to is that if these minerals are found in large amounts, they can affect the functionality of the water heater. Over time, the device’s heating efficiency gets affected. Therefore, it’s important to check the bottom of the water heater tank from time to time. 

Disturbance of naturally occurring material

Many times, dirt and other unwanted materials can enter the pipelines and settle at the bottom of the pipes. At times when the water pressure inside pipes increases or there’s a faster movement of water through the pipes, the settled dirt at the bottom gets stirred up. Eventually, the dirt mixes with freshwater, discharging brown tap water.  

A sudden disturbance in the municipal water supply system

Just like sediments can settle at the bottom of water pipes, they can also happen in the municipal water supply system. Sometimes, during routine maintenance and checks, water testing, construction, or repair of pipes, the accumulated sediments get stirred up.

A part of the sediment flows along with the water. The remaining sediment takes some time to settle down at the bottom again. If this is the cause of brownish water being discharged, and you know it, you must allow water to flow from the faucets for about 15 mins.

Change to a new municipal water source

When the municipality changes the water supply reservoir or switches to a different river for water, it can change the color of the water. Sometimes the water source chosen is contaminated, thus causing a brownish water discharge. In such cases, installing a water treatment system in the house is a good option to get clean, freshwater. 

Presence of naturally occurring bacteria

A few strains of bacteria can enter into the water supply system in some way and cause discoloration. The presence of these types of bacteria reduces the iron content of water because they break the iron by oxidizing it.

The byproduct of this process causes the change in water color in the water supply system. If this is the cause of the problem, it can be solved by adding chlorine to the water.

Pollution in the main water system

If you receive water from a groundwater system, and you notice brown water coming out of the taps, it means that chemicals might have entered the system by rainwater. Chemicals that can discolor freshwater are pesticides and motor oil. 

Malfunctioning filtration system

Though this is a rare occurrence but is possible.  Sometimes the water treatment device used in some areas isn’t up to the mark. They fail to handle huge volumes of water. As a result, untreated water is supplied. 

Change in the water table

Long periods of draughts or high rains can cause a change in the water table. Sometimes, the change is so severe that the water treatment system fails to remove the excess minerals present in the water.

 The presence of minerals like iron in excess amounts is likely to cause discoloration of the water. 

How to Get Rid of Brown Water from the Tap?

How to Get Rid of Brown Water from the Tap

You obviously wouldn’t like brown water coming out from your bath water tap or anywhere else constantly. Now that you know the probable causes of brown water, you must be looking for ideas to fix it.

The best way to address the issue is by calling professionals. They will investigate the matter, find out its root cause and take appropriate measures accordingly. Many times, professionals take time to reach your location.

Meanwhile, what you can do is try out the below-mentioned methods and see if you can get rid of brown water coming out of faucet.

Run the faucets for sometime

As we already mentioned, sometimes, rust particles get mixed into the water giving it a brownish color. If this has happened, leave the tap running for some time and you will notice fresh, clear water coming out after some time.

If you see the discoloration continues even after twenty minutes, it means the cause of the problem is something else. In that case, refer to the other methods mentioned below.

Try out a water softener or a water filtration system

A water filtration system will remove excess minerals like iron if present in the water. Installing a water filter system is, therefore, a wise decision.  If you are opting for this method, remember that it’s expensive.

Also, you need to maintain the device regularly to ensure optimum performance. While buying the device, research the model that you are buying, because some models can’t be operated without professional assistance.  

Call the city’s utility provider

If you notice that brown water continues to come out from faucets even after an hour or two, ask your neighbors. Enquire if they are experiencing the same problem. If they say yes, it means that the problem is with the city’s primary water system. 

Call the appropriate authorities and inform them of the issue. Ask them to inspect the water pipes and flush out the water for a few minutes. If the authorities don’t find anything wrong with the water system and you are still receiving brown water from faucets, it means the problem is with your home. Continue to read below to know what more you can do to fix the issue. 

Remove the aerator from the tap

If you notice that only your toilet water tap is discharging brownish water, and the other taps aren’t, the problem might be with the tap’s aerator.

Do you know what the function of the aerator is? The aerator is a small thing attached at the end of the tap which regulates the amount of water flowing through the tap.

Sometimes, the aerator might get dirty. When this happens, water while passing through the aerator picks up the dirt and becomes brownish in color.

What you can do is, remove the aerator and clean it thoroughly. Also, turn on the tap and let water flow through it without the aerator. After some time, place the aerator back in position. Hopefully, this will solve the issue of brown tap water coming out. 

Clean the water heater’s tank

If you see all the faucets discharging brown water, it indicates a problem with the water heater. Probably, sediments have accumulated with time at the bottom of the tank. When this happens, your water heater tank might leak anytime, besides the discoloration of water. 

To fix this issue, you must drain the remaining water from the water heater tank and give it a proper cleaning. To make sure the water heater tank is clean, you must drain and flush it at least twice a year. 

Inform your water supplier

If none of the above methods have worked out, it means that there is a problem with the city’s water main or a fire hydrant. Sometimes when plumbers conduct maintenance checks on the pipes or other components, the accumulated sediments get stirred up and mix into the water, giving it a brownish color. 

When you call the water supplier, inform them of the issue you are facing. Inquire whether any maintenance is happening. If they provide you with some solution, follow it and you are sure to get rid of the unwanted brown water from faucet.

Call a professional plumber

If you have tried out all the methods possible, but nothing solved the issue, it’s time to call a plumber. The plumber will inspect the pipes to find out what’s the probable cause of the occurrence. No matter what’s the cause of the problem, we advise homeowners not to do anything on their own. 

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The Bottom Line

As you can see, water can get discolored due to a variety of reasons like internal plumbing issues, change in the water table, high iron content, accumulation of sediments and chemicals, etc.  If you can find out what’s causing the issue, addressing the problem becomes easier.

However, if you don’t know the reason behind brown water discharge, you can proceed with the DIY methods we have listed above. If nothing works, don’t hesitate to call the plumber.