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If you’re getting brown water from your tap, here are some causes and what may be wrong

| Michael Quinn

Brown coloured water isn’t exactly what you expect to come out of the taps. While it may be alarming, if there is brown water coming out of your taps, it could signify several common problems. 

A photo of water splashing from a tap into the sink.
A photo of water splashing from a tap into the sink.

Why is the water in my home brown?

There are a few factors that can cause discoloured water to come out of your tap. The first is an accumulation of minerals, sediment, or rust in your water mains. Over time, these things can cause the water in your home to become discoloured. The second common cause of brown water in your taps is from damaged water pipes in need of repair. Often, when pipes are damaged or become dislodged, rust collected in them finds its way into your home’s water supply.

Is brown water harmful for consumption?

You should never consume brown water; although it may not be toxic, you should always assume it is unsafe to drink. If you notice your water is brown, please contact one of our engineers today.

Additionally, if a rusty pipe causes brown water, this can potentially be harmful to your health because rusty water is a breeding ground for bacteria.

How to get rid of brown water

There are numerous ways you can get rid of brown water in your home; the solution depends on the problem's cause. So, we’ve listed some of the ways that may help to get rid of brown water in your home.

Please note: the methods detailed below are not guaranteed to work. To safely and professionally fix brown water problems in your home, contact our engineers at ASL today.

Run the taps in your home to clear the pipes.

Sometimes, this method clears the problem, and the water's colour returns to normal. However, you may need to run your kitchen tap at a trickle for 20 minutes a couple of times to really help it clear. The great thing is, if you’ve got a water meter, you’re entitled to a rebate for running the water through until it clears. So, there’s no need to worry about your water bill.

While the water is running, you need to check whether it’s only brown when the water is hot or when it is cold.

Brown Water from the Hot Tap: If the brown water from the tap is only coming from the hot tap, it could be that the inside of the water heater is rusting, and this rust is being passed into the water. If this is the case, you will need to have your water heated inspected.

Brown Water from the Cold Tap: However, if the hot water is clear and it’s the cold water tap that is pouring out brown water, it could be an issue with the supply pipes. Run the cold water tap to check. If this is the case, you might need to alert the supplying utility provider, and they should inspect the pipe system and flush out any brown water.

Causes of brown water from your taps

An unexpected pipe disturbance

If construction work is carried out on your street, it may have disturbed the mains network. This can dislodge particles within the pipes that can cause the water flowing to your home to become brown, orange or a deep yellow in colour.

A photo of a fire engine sometimes drawing on vast amounts of water which can cause a disturbance in your watermain
A photo of a fire engine sometimes drawing on vast amounts of water can cause a disturbance in your water main.

Emergency services using the water

A less frequent reason why your home’s water supply may be discoloured brown is due to the emergency services, such as the fire brigade. They may have needed to use large volumes of water for an emergency. Often, this can cause the water supply to deplete and sediment that has settled at the bottom of water pipes to be stirred up. Normal water supply should resume 20 minutes to an hour after the emergency services have left.

Stirring up organic material

Another cause of brown water coming from your taps could be organic material. Dirt and other naturally occurring sediments tend to settle at the bottom of water pipes, and generally, this is not a problem. However, if something causes the water flow to speed up through the pipes, such as firefighting, a water main break, or a pipe disturbance, this can stir up organic material, causing tap water to appear brown.

Watermain breaks caused water discolouration

A broken water main can shoot water out from under the ground with incredible force creating a geyser that can rise many feet into the air. This can throw out gallons of water into the street, fields, or buildings nearby and can cause a lot of flooding damage. However in domestic situations a broken water main is more likely to cause puddling which can build up undetected causing damage to your property. 

One reason water mains break could be because of pipe corrosion. Over time, rust can built-up inside the pipes, weakening them, causing cracks to develop. The result of a broken water main is brown water. If you have a broken water main, you need to get it repaired as quickly as possible. Click here to book our water main repair service.

Repair or replace damaged pipes

If the brown water coming out of your taps results from broken or damaged pipes, you need to address the problem immediately. Contact our team at ASL Limited. We are experts in all areas of drain repair and replacement. Our team of specialists will replace your drain pipes with high-quality and durable alternatives that help keep your water clean, clear, and drinkable all year round.

Check out who's responsibility it is to repair these pipes in our blog entitled 'Blocked drains responsibility: where does it fall?'

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