How It Works

Select the work to be done
Let us know what project you need help with and when you need it done - we'll match you with the right pros for the job.
Compare matched pros
Verify pro credentials, read reviews, ask questions, discuss availability, and request project estimates.
Complete your project
Hire the pro that's right for you and your budget. After the project is complete, let your community know how it went.
Powered by

The Home Depot

Why is My Water Brown?

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Plumbing > Why is My Water Brown?
Why is My Water Brown?

Water, is Life itself! Can you imagine a life without? And yet there are millions of people all around the globe who do not have access to clean and safe water. Impure water is the leading cause of a host of potentially deadly diseases and sundry other health complications. You have no reason to bask in the thought that the water that flows out when you turn on the faucets in your home is always clean and pure. Especially if the water is brownish-looking. Pure water has a crystal clear appearance and any color in it is a tell-tale sign of contamination.


Brown-colored water coming out of the faucets is a common complaint of householders. But why? And now that you know that brown water is contaminated, how much of a cause of concern should it be? How do you fix the issue and ensure that it does not bother you again? The discussion below provides answers to the queries of a typical householder regarding brown water coming out of taps.

  1. 1.What are the Causes of Brown Water?

    Too much iron and/or manganese in water causes it to turn brown. So, if you turn on the faucets to find brown-colored water flowing from it, you can be sure that the water system in your house has been contaminated with one or both of these metals. Iron occurs naturally in soil so it is not uncommon for it to make its way into your water supply line. This is especially true if you receive your supply of water from an underground well.


    Another common cause of taps discharging brown-colored water is a rusty pipe. Pressure fluctuations inside a water pipe, especially when the supply is switched on and off, tend to loosen the rust that had been clinging to the inner walls of the pipe. This rust then comes in contact with the water flowing through the pipe and turns it brown. Sometimes the galvanic coat of a pipe peels off from the inside of water supply line or the layer of magnesium over an anode rod comes off and exposes the layer of iron beneath. Water when it comes in contact with iron tends to turn a little brown.

  2. 2.How Harmful is it to Me?

    Now, there is an interesting answer to this common query. Although iron and manganese are considered contaminants, drinking water containing these elements actually doesn’t harm you in any way. These are essential elements that the body requires to function effectively and your daily diet contains varied amounts of these metals. So, brown water coming out of your taps isn’t a concern on the health front.


    But wait! You don’t have any reason either to become complacent and neglect doing anything about the brown water coming out of your faucets. Rust in your pipes trigger health hazards in other ways. Rusty water is a breeding ground for various forms of bacteria that cause illnesses. On the other hand, a build-up of rust tends to corrode and crack pipes that in turn, exposes your water supply to contaminants in the air and also increases the chances of leaks in your house. Leaky pipes are one of the most common causes of mold and mildew infestation in homes. So, there you go; the rust in your brown-colored water actually has the potential to snowball into a major health hazard!

  3. 3.Is it Bad for Anything Else?

    Brown water may not be directly harmful to your health but it does have other unpleasant effects. For instance, rust imparts a metallic taste to your drinking water. Again, if you use rusty water in hot or cold beverages and alcoholic drinks, it usually turns your drink a repulsive black and gives off quite an offensive smell. When used in cooking, rusty water tends to turn food items and especially vegetables, dark and make them look unpalatable.


    Iron in water leaves ungainly stains on your laundry and the washing machine and also leaves a colored residue on your hair. It is likely that blondes may not appreciate the latter. Besides, rust clogs water systems and may even cause sinks to back flow. Now that is quite a bother and may even necessitate calling a professional plumber.

  4. 4.How Do I Get Rid of Brown Water?

    To eliminate brown water, you have to first delve into the root cause. If only your water heater produces brown water, then the most likely suspect is a damaged anode rod that needs to be replaced. A malfunctioning water heater or the boiler system in your building may also cause water to turn brown. In the former case, you will need to replace the water heater while in the latter instance, buying new check valves for each boiler will do the trick.


    If both the cold and hot water systems in your house are spewing brown water, then it is a critical problem, the source of which lies in the main supply pipe at some point before it branches off to other parts of the house. Galvanized pipes are the prime culprits if you have been getting brown water from your taps. So, the best way to manage this problem is to replace these pipes with copper plumbing works.

  5. 5.How Can I Prevent Recurrence?

    Hot water tanks have life spans of 10 years. Bladders of old hot water tanks tend to leak and cause rust build-up inside the unit. So, you should ideally replace the tanks after this time period to prevent rusty hot water. An iron filter or water softener installed at the point where water enters the pipes in your house is probably the easiest way to prevent recurrence and especially if your water is supplied by a well.

Brown and rusty water not only brings out the eeks and ugghs. As the above discussion has clarified, it can be harmful for your health and that of, your electrical devices as well. Thankfully, there are multiple ways to keep brown water at bay and enjoy the goodness of pure, fresh water.

Find Pros

Get your home project started today with help from Pro Referral’s qualified network of pre-screened and background-checked professionals available in your neighborhood.

Get Expert Advice

Submit your toughest home improvement questions to our knowledgeable experts and receive free personalized solutions, product recommendations, how-to advice, and more–all within 48 hours or less.