Why is My Water Brown? (All of a Sudden!)

You have twisted the knob on your water tap and water started to flow, but suddenly it changed its color and turned into ugly brown color. Oh man.. Why is my water brown all of a sudden? What is going on? How do I stop this?

The long story short, the excessive amount of iron or/and manganese in water gives it a brown color. It even changes the smell and taste of the water. The presence of iron in water could indicate that your plumbing has reached to the end of its lifespan and its time to change it.

Now, let’s talk about this more in depth.

What Is The Reason For Brown Water?

I would like to explain what does it mean when water has a brown/rusty color. I am pretty sure we are all well familiar with such an issue.


There are couple of reasons why you might have rusty water out of nowhere.

1. Rusty pipelines

rusty pipes

Probably the most common reason.

It’s simple.

The rust from pipelines contaminates the water. As it comes into contact, it changes the color to brown. This might be either from your house plumbing if you live in the older house or from the city supply pipelines network.

2. Ground Water Source

This is pretty straightforward. If you use a well as the source of water, this might happen that the well gets contaminated by the excessive amount of iron.

3. Holiday leave

People that live in houses with old plumbing might experience this. You leave for a holiday and when you come back your water is rusty for some time.

Why is this so?

This is related to the first point. You have have an old plumbing and while you were away, the rust came into contact with water.

4. Earthworks


Check out if there are any engineering earthworks done in your neighborhood. It might have damaged the pipeline system and contaminated the water.

Before we go any further.

Some people have experienced the brown water only from their toilet, but the sink is actually alright.

Here is the deal:

Although water is going through filtration, it still contains a certain amount of iron. The allowed maximum for iron in the US is 0.3 mg/l.

Water is stored in a flushing tank, and tank continually refills. Over the time the iron builds up on a tank’s walls, and at some point, you might experience brown color of flushing water; however, the water in a sink is alright.

Also, there might be rust in a pipe that is leading to the toilet.

The solution is, to open the tank and see if the water there is discolored. As well, I would suggest you to regularly clean the tank as it creates an ideal environment for bacteria to breed.


If you have a boiler or other heating appliance that heats the water for your house, you can face the brown water issue from the hot tap only.

Again this is a similar issue as with the toilet. The iron can build up in a heater, and over you time you will start seeing brown/rusty water.

Bottom line:

Check the age of the heater should be a first thing you do. Usual lifespan of such appliances is around 10 years. So, if your heater is older, it might be a good idea to replace it.

You can also try to clean the inside of the heater, but I prefer to change for a new one. Ensure that you take care of your new appliance and avoid having rusty water again.

Bear with me as now, I am going to tell you what you want to know probably the most.

How Dangerous Is Brown Water? (Can I Drink it?)

shower in a rusty water

The question is how dangerous the iron in water is? Can you actually have a shower or take a bath in brown water?

Well, I calm you down as the brown water is not dangerous to your health as long as you don’t use it for drinking.

High concentration of iron in water will have more aesthetics impact on your hair and skin but is not a threat to your health.

  • Your hair may be feeling dry and brittle
  • You can even experience the change of hair color to orange if you are blonde
  • If you are using hair color, iron can have a chemical reaction that might damage your hair
  • You can experience dry and flaky skin

Bottom line:

Taking a bath is not dangerous, but I wouldn’t recommend it for the reasons mentioned above.

Okay, what is the deal with drinking, can I drink brown water?

The short answer is no.

Even though the iron is the essential mineral that our body requires I wouldn’t drink brown water whatsoever.

The taste of such water is absolutely horrible. Another reason why I wouldn’t do it is that of its look.

I just cannot put a brown drink that isn’t a juice in my mouth.

However, if you have a cup of it, you are not going to die. Of course, if the iron is the only one cause of discolored water.

Iron will become dangerous if you are exposed for a longer period of time to it, so I would try to get rid of iron ASAP.


Is Brown Water Dangerous to Something Else?

Yes, your laundry.


Please, please, please don’t do laundry with brown water unless you want to get rid of it. Even in this case, just donate it :).

Such discolored water will also discolor and destroy your laundry so bear this in mind.

How Can I Get Rid Of Brown Water?

There are a couple of things you can do to get rid of the brown water. But before I go into that, I want to ask you to think and analyze the cause of it.

There is no point in repairing something that isn’t broken. You get the idea.

Let’s dive into the thing you can do to fix the brown water issue:

1. Fix the pipeline system in your house

If you know that the plumbing in your house is ancient, sooner or later you will have to replace it.

I would advise you to call a qualified plumber to inspect the plumbing at your house and see what the best option for you is. I mean you probably don’t need to replace all of it, if only part of the house is bad.

2. Get a filtration system

This is a no-brainer. If brown water is coming in from the outside of your house, you can prevent yourself.


Simply install the whole house filtration. This will ensure that regardless of the quality of water that is coming into your house, you will always have clean water.

For ultimate protection from bacteria, you can add ultraviolet stage to kill bacteria.

3. Let rusty water run until you have clean water


This is related to the old pipeline system that hasn’t been used for a while.

Just open several taps in your house and let your water run for about 30 minutes.

If it doesn’t help, then close taps and leave them for an hour and try again.

Needless to say, that if it won’t work, then step #4 comes into place.

TIP: Please, don’t waste the water. Although, it’s rusty it is not dangerous for plants. So, you can still use it for plants, flowers or garden cropping.

4. Contact local authorities


You know that the brown water that is coming out of your tap is not your fault and it is supplied from the public distribution. You have tried step #3 and nothing helped.

What should you do?

All you need is to let local authorities know. So, contact them and tell them what the situation is and what are they going to do about it.

Don’t be Afraid of Brown Water If it’s Short-term


I believe that I have answered all your possible concerns and provided you with some great tips.

If you experience brown water just for a couple of hours, you don’t have to worry about it.

However, I would be worried if it’s more than a couple of days.

I have done my part, and I would love to hear from you!

  • What is the longest time you have experienced brown/rusty water?
  • What was the cause of it?

Share your stories in the comment section below.

Don’t forget to share this article on social media with your friends.

Because we all know that:

Sharing is caring!

6 thoughts on “Why is My Water Brown? (All of a Sudden!)”

  1. julienne murekatete

    Oh my, brown water!!!!We experience this situation most of the time but as we didn’t know the cause, we could not change anything. By reading your post, i now realised how bad is brown water to my body and my environment.I think i am going to report this issue to my authority in charge of water. Thank you for your information

  2. Hey there! I appreciate you putting this guide together. I live in an old house and every time we come back from vacation the water is brown! Now I’m glad to know EXACTLY what to do about it. Thanks for recommending the filtration systems too. I will definitely look more into that.

    Take care!


    1. Marlinda,

      I would definitely suggest you to contact a plumber and see how long the plumbing is able to last. Ideally, replace or fix it asap.

      Thanks for stopping by.


  3. Jessica Lauren Vine

    Brown water can definitely put a damper on bath time. If you want to enjoy a good bath bomb, it isn’t so great when the water is brown. lol Thanks for the helpful tips. Do you have any information on stinky water? I have dealt with that in the past when in different areas. Not cool!

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