Why is Brown Water Coming from Pipes?


Why is Brown Water Pouring Out My Pipes?

A common concern we hear from homeowners in the Bay Area is the sudden occurrence of brown water coming out of their pipes. This may be alarming at first, and most owners think this is a sign of poison in their drinking water (not actual poison, typically, but less than desirable contaminants).

If you’re reading this, we assume that you are also experiencing this problem. This post will explain what you need to know about your brown water issue, what you should do while this is happening, and how to resolve the issue with your plumbing and how to make it clear again.

Why is my water brown?

Minerals, sediment, or rust that accumulates in the water mains over time is the cause of brown or discolored water. When the water from your tap is brown, this indicates a disturbance in the water main that stirs up these deposits.

However, main breaks and adjacent construction can also stir up these sediments and cause the water to change color. Usually, the water will clear on its own within a few hours. If, after a few hours, and the water has not cleared then you will need to call for a professional opinion.

The most common reason for residential brown water coming out homeowner’s tap is from damaged or recently replaced water pipes. This happens because rust becomes dislodged from the water pipes and finds it’s way into your home water supply. The pressure in the pipes changes during repairs.  If there’s a drop in water pressure or when the water is switched off and back on again.

You also might have a rusted pipe, and if left unattended to might create a leak.

Is this water poisonous or harmful?

The direct answer is no, and the water is not toxic or dangerous. The brown water you are seeing might be from too much iron in it. Iron is a common, naturally occurring metal in soil, and is present in your drinking water. But, just because it is not poisonous we still do not recommend drinking it. It could be caused by a leak from a rusted plumbing pipe, and that can be a major problem for your home in the future if left unattended.

If the problem is in fact, a rusty pipe then the problems that can occur because of it will be hazardous. Rust in your pipes will create rusty water rusty water is a breeding ground for various forms of bacteria. Rust build-up can corrode and crack plumbing pipes and exposes your water supply to contaminants in the air. Leaking pipes can lead to mold and mildew to fester in homes, which will result in a major health hazard.

How do I get rid of brown water?

Try to run the cold water from your tap for about 20 minutes. If your water is still brown, you should call the town or city to ask whether they are aware of the issue. Tell the city’s utility provider to inspect the pipes and they can flush out the pipes on their end. If after this is done, and brown water is still appearing then you will need to take other measures to get rid of it.

Check if the brown water is coming from hot or cold water only. If water is brown from hot water only, then it could be that the water heater needs to be flushed out. Scale inside of the water heater fell to the bottom and muddied the water, or inside could be rusting through and a lot of rusted scales fell off the tank top or wall to the bottom muddying it up. This rust is also an indication that your water heater is reaching the end of its lifespan as well. If it is hot water only, then have your water heater inspected.

Ask your neighbors if they are also experiencing brown water, if the neighborhood is facing the same problem then its the an issue with the piping that the utility provider needs to resolve. If you have asked your neighbors and discovered it is just your home with this problem, then you will need to call someone to flush out the rust in your pipes. If after flushing out the rust from your pipes and you can still see bits of brown water coming from your tap then your options to cleanse the water include water filters and softeners.