Brown Water Coming Out of Faucet? Tips to Deal With Brown Water in the Home

Can brown water coming out of the faucet hurt me. Get the answers from Woodard Cleaning & Restoration in St. Louis, Mo.

Have a bad case of brown water coming out of faucet? If the water that flows from your kitchen faucet in the morning looks more like a pale version of what’s brewing in your coffee pot, you’ve most likely got a rusty pipe issue. But at the moment you need water, whether for drinking, brushing your teeth or washing dishes, of course you’re wondering, can brown water hurt me? Let’s talk through this issue, a few words of warning, causes and remedies.

Causes of Brown Water in Pipes

When the murky stuff comes through your faucet, the culprit is most likely a rusty galvanized iron pipe. Rust dissolves into the water, tinting it some shade of brown (or red, yellow or orange as well, incidentally.) The varying discoloration is due to the chemical oxidation state of the pipe and the amount of rust in the water. The source of your rust issue could either be within the city’s municipal water main system, or a pipe in your home or place of business. Report the issue to your city’s water department. If it is the municipal system, they will take care of the issue on their end and you should see clean fresh water within a few hours. If they’ve received no other reports of rusty water, the problem probably resides at home. This is especially true if only one faucet in your home is affected, and the problem is at its worst first thing in the morning. You’ll need to inspect and replace your worn pipes or call a licensed plumber.

Couple other possible reasons for the code brown: if you’re on municipal water, sediment could have been mixed into your system during a water main break or when a fire hydrant was used. The fire department may also be flushing the hydrants, which can stir any sediment in the system and cause temporary water discoloration. (They usually do this once or twice annually.) If your issue clears within a few hours, this was most likely the case and you can consider it closed. It is also possible that dirt has entered your line from work that has been conducted on your water system. If this is the case, the brown discoloration will flush out within a few minutes. If you have a water heater that’s old or seen better days, it may be rusting and causing your water discoloration issue as well.

Is Brown Water From The Sink Safe to Drink?

Believe it or not, yes. Brown (or other discolored) water is not harmful to drink or brush your teeth with. Whether or not you actually use it is totally up to you—there is an "ick" factor that must be considered.

You’re off the Hook

...with laundry, so long as you have discolored water. Brownish water is very harmful to laundry, especially white loads which are more susceptible to staining; don’t run your washing machine at all with this type of problem! If you fail to heed this warning and use your washer anyway, make sure you stay away from bleach with chlorine, which reacts to the rust in your water, ruining your laundry. If your brown water sink issues started mid-load, set the laundry aside until the problem has been remedied. Wash laundry again in clear water using a rust-stain remover (and lots of bleach this time!)

In the Meantime...

So while the brown water in your pipes doesn't pose a health threat to you and your family or co-workers, you may want to consider boiling this water or purchasing large jugs of filtered water for drinking, cooking and hygiene purposes until the issue clears. If you have more questions about this issue, want to learn more plumbing tips and tricks, or are looking for a trusted plumber in the Saint Louis area, the friendly staff at Woodard Cleaning and Restoration is here to help. Call us now at 314-227-3938.