Brown Tap Water? Find Out What Might Be Causing It

Home / Brown Tap Water? Find Out What Might Be Causing It


Turning on the tap and seeing brown water flowing out of the faucet or sitting in the toilet bowl is cause for concern for anyone.

There are a number of reasons why this might happen but are any of them dangerous

Today I want to cover some of the reasons you might suddenly have brown water in your home, and what you can do about it.

City Water Lines

Dallas and other cities around the country often flush the city water lines and fire hydrants as part of regular maintenance. The change in water pressure forces out mineral deposits, rust, dirt, sediment, etc. that have settled in the lines.

Repairs to city lines, like for a water main break, also causes brown water in a home’s plumbing system. And as infrastructures age, line breaks might become more frequent of an issue down the road.

Since your home’s lines are connected to the city’s lines, the water then flushes into your system.

So how do you know if this is what’s causing the brown water in your home? If the change to brown, murky water is sudden and is coming out of all of your water fixtures, city line maintenance and repairs are very likely the culprit.

Also check with your neighbors. If everyone on the street is having the same issue, it’s likely it’s routine upkeep by the city.

In these cases, it should usually clear up within a few hours, sometimes a few days. Once the pressure is back to normal and everything’s been flushed out, your home’s water should run clear again.

Your Home’s Pipes

Brown Water Caused by Rust

On the flip side, if brown water flows from the tap and comes out of only a few of your faucets, it’s probably your plumbing system. Another sign it’s your fresh water pipes is if the water is brown every morning but clears up later in the day.

If the brown water is only coming from your cold tap, it’s the fresh water pipes. But if it’s only happening when you turn on the hot water, it might be your hot water heater which I address a little further down in the post.

If it is your pipes it’s probably because there is rust in them. As water flows through your pipes, the rust is loosened and discolors the water and comes out of your faucets.

This is also the case if you only have brown water in the toilet. So if there’s only brown water in the toilet and maybe the sink in the same bathroom but none of the other areas of the house, it’s probably just that line that you need to address.

In this case, you should look into replacing the pipe. Once the pipe has started to rust, a break in the line isn’t far off. You want to catch this before the pipe or pipes break and you find yourself dealing with a fresh water leak.

Iron and Magnesium Turning Water Brown

If it’s not rust, it’s possible your water has too much iron and/or magnesium in it. This can show up in several ways:

  • Reddish/brown tint (or sometimes even black) and lasts longer than a day
  • Red or black particles settle in standing water
  • Red, orange, or black stains around fixtures, and in sinks and tubs
  • Red, brown, or black stains on clean laundry
  • Red, orange, or black stains/slime in toilet
  • Metallic taste

If you suspect this is the cause of your brown water coming from your tap or in your toilet, get your water tested.

You can always call your county health department office to see if there’s any testing facilities they recommend. Or you can also call the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791 or visit the EPA Water Lab Network page.

Water Heater Causing Brown Water

Another potential cause as I mention above could be your water heater. If brown water is only a problem when you run the hot water, take a look at your water heater and the anode rod.

If you have a tank water heater, there is an anode rod inside the tank to help prevent the inside of your tank from corroding. Because water degrades metal, the water heater needs something to draw the elements that do that away from the walls of the tank.

This is what the anode rod does. Anode rods are often made of magnesium and/or iron which corrode faster than other metals which protects your tank. If the anode rod needs replacing, you might start seeing brown water when you run the tap.

As long as you get the rod replaced before the inner walls of your water heater start to rust, you should be fine. If it’s been too long, though, and the tank is rusting, it might be time for a new water heater.

If you suspect a water heater issue, give us a call or email us and we can talk you through what might be happening.

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Is Brown Water Dangerous?

It’s only natural you’re concerned about brown tap water or brown water in your toilet. With stories like the ones coming out of Flint, Michigan, and other places, it’s important we are aware of what’s going on, especially with the water we drink and bathe in.

The answer is, it depends.

Now if you’ve showered or have been drinking water with iron or magnesium, don’t worry just yet. Especially if it’s only been a short time. These are minerals our bodies need so while unpleasant, it’s not necessarily dangerous.

And while you probably don’t want to drink rusty water, it’s not harmful. Where the real danger comes in is if your pipes have a crack or a leak. That leaves your system open to the possibility of bacteria growing in your pipes and then getting into your water supply. Not to mention potential water damage from a leak which is a hotbed for mold and mildew.

Can In-House Plumbing Company Help with Brown Water in Your Home?

Yes and no.

As I said earlier, if the issue is with your hot water heater, we can help you figure that out and work on getting you a replacement.

We can also help you if you need a water pipe replacement.

Although in some situations, you might just need to flush your water heater or pipes.

In any case, we’re always happy to help. Feel free to give us a call at 972-494-1750 or email us at with your questions and to see if we can help you with your brown water concerns.

In-House Plumbing Company

Get Sensible Solutions Today

Say goodbye to water or sewer leak issues, especially ones under your foundation, by putting our plumbing company to work for you. We offer timely, sensible solutions and restore peace of mind without significantly affecting your property or budget. Contact In-House Plumbing Company today to schedule an appointment.