So Your Water is Discolored. Now What?

December 7, 2022

You go to turn on your sink to do dishes, and the water that comes out is brown. What’s the problem? Is it contaminated? Is it safe?

There are many reasons your water may be brown – sediment, minerals, and rust can build up in the water and cause discoloration. If there’s construction nearby, the disturbance of the ground can shift deposits and cause your water to change color.

If this is the case, running the water and waiting it out should fix your problem. However, if your water doesn’t clear up, you should call a professional plumber to look at your pipes.

Often, when brown water is coming out of faucets in residential homes, it’s because of a recent pipe replacement or broken water pipes. The discoloration is caused by rust getting into the water pipes due to changes in the water pressure. These damaged pipes must be located before the leak grows, causing even more water waste. A plumber will be able to repair the pipes before there’s any further damage.

If you have well water or use a water supply that contains high amounts of minerals, this is probably what’s causing your discoloration. Brown water can also be caused by mineral build-ups in water lines. If you use a water softener, you may need to clean it out to remove the mineral deposits. If you don’t have a water softener, getting one can help prevent future discoloration.

Brown water isn’t usually dangerous, but that doesn’t mean you should drink it. Unless there are high concentration levels, iron is usually in your tap water and isn’t harmful, but rust can breed bacteria, leading to mold and mildew infestations, those you do NOT want to drink.

So how do you get rid of it? Start by running cold water from your taps for approximately 20 minutes. If that doesn’t work, you can contact your city’s water supplier and request they flush out the brown water via fire hydrant (have you ever seen them letting water out of a fire hydrant and wonder, “Huh, I wonder what they’re doing”?) If there’s still a problem, it’s time to call for professional help.

For help with discolored water or any other plumbing needs, call Eastern Plumbing at  252-758-7579.