My Water Is Brown And Rusty, What Is Causing It

  • William Demirdonder
  • Jan 03, 2022
  • No comments
  • 15-minute read
My Water Is Brown And Rusty, What Is Causing It

No one likes turning on the tap and seeing rusty or brown water pouring out. It can look scary and you’ll most likely stop using any water until it’s fixed. Clean, clear running water is healthy and necessary for all the things we use water for each and every day: cleaning, bathing, drinking and cooking.

If you turn on the faucet and see brown water we suggest calling a plumber ASAP and do not use this water for any of the above purposes. Brown, rusty or contaminated water can irritate your skin, stomach and turn your dishes and clothing an off colour. 

What Causes Your Water To Turn Brown?

The most common cause for brown water is sediment, usually rust or manganese. Unfortunately, when corrosion and rust form inside the pipes, it can turn the water coming out of your tap brown.

Many older plumbing pipes are made of iron (which over time naturally rusts) so if a pipe is damaged by rust then it could cause the water to turn brown. Sediment often already exists in many pipes however, because rust is heavy it usually sinks to the bottom of pipes.

When there is a disturbance in the flow of water through the pipes (say an altering of the water pressure) the rust gets stirred up and ends up turning the water brown.

Other Reasons Your Water Could Look Brown or Rusty?

If the water pressure in your pipes is altered, this can cause the rust to turn loose and come through the tap and can also be due to sediment coming from the hot water unit.

There is a layer between the water and metal outer of your hot water unit. If this layer is compromised, as is the quality of your water! This problem is also an indicator that your Hot Water Unit may be heading towards the end of its life.

Brown water could also be caused by a rusty pipe within your plumbing system or sediment buildup in your water heater. 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.

Is There A Supply Issue?

Brown or rusty water could (very unlikely) mean an issue in the local supply of your water line. A good way to check if the issue is coming from your local supply or coming from your own plumbing system is to go next door and ask your neighbours if they are experiencing brown water also. If they do not have an issue, then it’s a good indicator that the problem lies within your plumbing system.

Is Brown Or Rusty Water Dangerous? 

Drinking brown or rusty (contaminated) water will most likely not cause any ongoing adverse health issues HOWEVER we do not recommend it. The taste and the smell of that brown water are not appealing. If you bath in rusty or brown water can also affect your skin and hair leaving it feeling dry and brittle. Rust pigments found in the water can also alter the colour of your hair, and adversely react to any chemically treated/dyed hair. If you clean with it, the water can also stain and alter the colour of anything you wash in it. 

How To Treat Brown Or Rusty Water?

A licenced plumber will be able to determine: a) The cause of the brown water and b) How to treat the brown water. Typically a pipe will need to be repaired or replaced, or a hot water unit will need to be repaired or replaced. Then you’ll have some clean, fresh water once again.

So, safe to say – do not use the rusty or brown water. If you see rusty or brown water coming out of your faucet, please call a plumber ASAP or call us and we can help you over the phone until we arrive. 

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