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Why Do I Have Brown Water (and Other Odd Colors)

brown water One common plumbing concern we hear from homeowners is that they are suddenly experiencing brown water, or other colors, coming through their pipes. Understandably, it can be alarming to see murky, brown water in the kitchen or bathroom sink. While discoloration is not always dangerous, it is usually a notorious sign that your water supply has become compromised. It’s best to find out where the problem is coming from by contacting a professional plumber immediately.

Does your tap water look a bit like the Passaic River after a rainstorm? Here are a few possible explanations of this common plumbing problem.

What Causes Brown Water? And Is It Dangerous

Brown, cloudy or discolored water can be due to a number of reasons from a nearby construction project that has disrupted the ground, and subsequently, your water supply to a failing hot water heater.

Brown water is not necessarily dangerous or toxic but we still do not recommend drinking it. While it might be due to the presence of iron, a naturally occurring metal in soil, it could also be due to a leak from a rusted pipe, in which case can be hazardous. The build-up of rust can lead to corrosion and cracks which exposes your water supply to bacteria and other contaminants.

And brown water isn’t always just brown. It can also be orange, yellow, murky, etc.

What Causes Orange or Reddish Water?

One of the most common causes of orangish-brown or reddish water is due to minerals such as iron or manganese) that accumulates over time in the water main and leeches into your pipes. Iron water not only stains your sink, toilet or tub, it can also ruin clothing. It also tends to produce a bitter, metallic taste in water and even a bad smell.

Rusty, reddish brown iron water can be caused by standing water in the pipes and can usually be corrected by a water softener.

What Causes Yellow Water?

Yellow or brown water is often caused by dirt or other organic material that settles at the bottom of your water supplyline. According to the Environmental Working Group, “If something causes the water passing through the pipes to speed up – such as a water main break, high service demand or even firefighting – the faster flow can stir up the sediment and cause your water to appear yellow or brown.”

Be sure to call your local water department to ask if the discoloration is due to a water-main break.

What Causes Blue Water?

The EPA reveals copper can produce a blue-green color, a metallic taste, and a possible odor in tap water. Similar to iron, it can also produce blue-green stains on sinks, porcelain bathroom fixtures and even on laundry.

What Causes Murky or Cloudy Water?

Murky water that comes from the hot water tap could be due to an old hot water heater. If your unit is older than 10 years, murky water could be a sign you need hot water heater maintenance or that it needs to be replaced.

Cloudy water is often attributed to extra air that has been trapped in or moving through the water. This can give water a milky-white or cloudy appearance.

Fixing Brown Water Woes

Experiencing brown water woes? Worry not. The experienced plumbing technicians at Brown’s have seen it all. Let us diagnose your problem and get your water back to running like normal.

At Brown’s Heating, Cooling and Plumbing, we offer dependable emergency plumbing services for residential and commercial properties throughout Monmouth and Ocean County, NJ and surrounding areas. We’re here to help any day, night 24/7! Call 732-741-0694.

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