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Why Is My Water Brown?

By Steve Angersbach

Why Is My Water Brown

Causes Of Brown Water

Brown water is commonly caused by one of the following:

Sediment, rust, or minerals dislodged from water mains or even your hot water heater

Water main breaks or construction

Corroding pipes. Particularly common with iron and lead pipes

Spring hydrant flushing. In many areas of the country, with the spring thaw comes the flushing of hydrants by city personnel. The flushing process can loosen sediment, rust, or minerals

Change in water source – less common, but another potential cause of a sudden change in water quality is when your water utility switches its water source

Is Brown Water Dangerous?

Brown water may indicate the presence of dirt or sediment, rust, iron, or more serious, bacteria or other contaminants. These contaminants may pose a health risk and often are indicators of other issues in your water or pipes – bottom line, if you are experiencing brown water that does not clear by flushing your cold water pipes or by draining and refilling your hot water heater, you should have the issue investigated further – there are definitely solutions out there.

Avoid drinking or cooking with brown water, bathing in it, or doing laundry until you know the cause.

What You Can Do About Brown Water

Here are some things you can do if you are experiencing brown water in your home:

Run your cold water taps to clear any sediment. This may take fifteen to twenty minutes to clear. You may want to try to collect the water for use in your lawn or landscaping so it does not go to waste. Avoid use in your garden until you are assured the cause is not due to harmful substances.

Drain and refill your hot water heater. Common recommendations are to perform this maintenance once a year, but many of us forget about it. If the brown water is only from your hot water and the cold water is clear, it may be that your hot water heater needs a flush and fill or may be reaching the end of its useful life.

If you receive your water from a public water supply, contact your provider or visit their website. They often have informational bulletins regarding planned service such as hydrant flushing and listings of water advisories, such as boil water alerts.

If the cause of your brown water is not obvious or you are concerned about its safety, the scientists at Xperiential Laboratories have developed several tests which assess your water for the causes of brown water.

Category: Common Water Issues Explained

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