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Plumbing Problems – What Causes Brown Water?


What causes brown water to run from your faucets? Nobody wants to turn on the faucet and be greeted by brown water. Brown water running about of your faucet can be disturbing and scary. Clean running water is necessary for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and bathing. It’s not a good idea to utilize brown water for everyday use. Contaminated water can irritate your skin, and turn your dishes and clothing an off color. The most common cause for brown water is sediment. Here is what causes brown water and how you can treat it.

What Causes Brown Water?

Brown water is caused by sediment, usually rust or manganese. Many older plumbing pipes are made of iron, which over time naturally rusts. If a pipe is damaged by rust then it could cause the water to turn brown. While the EPA suggests that drinking rust contaminated water will not cause any adverse health threats, the taste and the smell is not appealing. Bathing in rust contaminated water can also affect your skin and hair leaving it feeling dry and brittle. Rust pigments can also alter the color of your hair, and adversely react to any chemically treated hair.

Sediment often already exists in many water supply lines. Because rust is heavy is usually sinks to the bottom of pipes. When there is a disturbance in the flow of water, the rust gets stirred up and

what causes brown water
Portland Water Bureau,, 01/20/2017

ends up turning the water brown. This can be caused by construction or repairs done on a municipal line, a change in flow of water to meet demands, or the use of a fire hydrant by the fire department.

Brown water could also be caused by a rusty pipe within your plumbing system or sediment buildup in your water heater. To determine the source, check with your neighbors to see if they too have brown water. If they don’t then it’s a good indicator that the problem lies within your plumbing system. To help determine the source within your home verify if the brown water is contaminating the hot-water taps only or the cold-water taps.

Solutions for Brown Water

If brown water is contaminating hot water taps, then it could mean that sediment has built up in your water heater, and it should probably be replaced. Water heater manufacturers recommend

what causes brown water
Deviant Art,, 01/20/2017

flushing your water heater tank annually as regular maintenance. This helps limit the amount of sediment that builds up in your tank. Typically tank storage water heaters last anywhere from 10-15 years. Regular maintenance including draining the tank can help your water heater last longer. You may want to consider upgrading your tank storage water heater to an on-demand water heater to eliminated sediment buildup in the future.

If brown water is contaminating cold water taps, then its more than likely a rusted pipe. A rusty pipe should be replaced not only to alleviate the sediment in your water, but also prevent rust from bleeding through your walls. While re-piping can be a costly procedure, it can eliminate a lot of plumbing problems from on-going leaks, water pressure issues, slab leaks, and brown water.

Brown water isn’t a pleasant plumbing situation, and often means there is a more serious plumbing afoot if it is an issue with your own plumbing system. If you suspect that there is a plumbing problem in your home causing brown water contact Lesco Plumbing today! We are here to help!



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