Are you suddenly faced with brown water from your tap and not sure why it is happening and the danger it poses? Do not be too alarmed! Brown water is actually something that many people face and is likely not a risk but here is a look at what causes it and what to do about it!
Reasons for brown water
It is possible overtime for certain things to accumulate in your water, rust, sediment and minerals for example and these can cause the water to become discoloured and even brown. You might see brown water from cold tap use, and it could be caused by construction near to the water main, or other disturbances. The most common cause is water pipes that have been recently replaced or damaged either by leakage or burst water pipe. As movement occurs rust is dislodged and gets into the home water supply. In those cases, the water should clear up in a few hours. If it does not you might want to call in an expert to assess what is going on. It could be a case of you having a rusted pipe that needs seeing to or an old water heater too.
Should we worry about brown water from tap harming us?
In terms of whether this water is dangerous for you to use, then no it is not. The brown is from too much iron in the water from the rust. Iron is already present in the drinking water and is not poisonous. However, that does not mean it is okay to guzzle the brown tap water. While the rust itself is not harmful the fact that there is a leaking and rusted plumbing pipe might also mean there are bacteria that have also gotten into the water.
Rusty water is a breeding ground for all kinds of bacteria and when corrosion and cracking happens that can also lead to other contaminants like mildew and mould. None of these is going to kill you but it is not something you want to consume a lot of. Of course, you should also not wash clothing in it as that will cause staining. A possible rusted pipe is not something to ignore and could lead to larger plumbing problems later on if not dealt with.
What to do about brown water from tap
If you have brown water from cold tap then you should leave your tap running for at least twenty minutes, first of all, to see if it eventually runs clear again. If it does not you can ask the city or town you live in to see if there has been in local work done that might have damaged the water system. They may send out an inspector to check the pipes and do a flush to clean them out. If this happens and you still have brown water then it is not a city problem but your own possibly.
If you have brown water from hot water tap then that could be a problem with your water heater. Scaling can happen in the water heater that then falls to the bottom and muddies up the water. Or there could be rusting happening in the water heater that gets into the water. Sometimes this might be a sign that the water heater is getting close to the end of its life and might need replacing soon. Call in a hot water system expert to inspect your water heater if the brown water comes from the hot tap.
If you still need to investigate you could also talk to your neighbours and see if they are having the same issues with their water. Then you can narrow down where the piping issue might be and call in someone to check it out and flush out the pipes in your neighbourhood. You might consider whether to add a water softener or install a water filtration system to your taps if you are still concerned about the quality of the water.
If you are still having brown water, it is best to get in touch with your local authority. They can check and get down to any water quality issue you have.
Seeing brown water gushing out of a tap can be alarming initially but it is common and it is not necessarily signs of something awful. Rust and such happens and with some flushing, your water can be back to being fine again quite quickly. It is a good idea though to call in a local plumber or someone with water system expertise so that you can be sure they know what they are talking about!