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How to Deal with Brown Water From Tap?

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Picture it: you've just returned from a sweaty jog, you grab a tall, clear glass from the cupboard, and turn on the tap for a refreshing drink. It's brown! Your unquenched thirst aside, a million questions run through your mind. Is there something wrong with your plumbing? Is brown water from tap still safe for drinking? What if it's not brown, but cloudy, murky or yellow tap water? Is your apparently dirty drinking water a reason to call a plumber immediately?

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The ultimate guide to brown tap water

Firstly, dirty tap water isn't something we need to worry about much in everyday life, as water quality in NSW is very high and discolouration is pretty rare.

Secondly, if you are experiencing brown tap water, don't make any assumptions about the cause. It might be disturbed sediment, it could be caused by organic matter in the mains, rust from your old iron pipes, or something else entirely.

Your brown tap water could also be caused by:

  • Disturbed sediment from a burst water mains or sudden high demand
  • Repairs, maintenance and upgrades to the mains network
  • Reverse flow
  • Use of a water/fire hydrant
  • A faulty network valve
  • A faulty water meter.

Let's do some more investigating about that worryingly dirty drinking water.

1. Is brown water from cold tap or hot tap?

If the discoloured water is only coming from the hot taps, it's likely you have a problem with your hot water system rather than the plumbing more generally. Most likely, it's corrosion - especially if your unit is getting old.

If so, consider calling your plumber and exploring your options for a new hot water system.

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2. The two bucket test

But if it's coming from the cold tap, this little test should give you a good idea of the cause of your dirty tap water.

Take a clean bucket or ice-cream container, and fill it up from the garden tap out the front of your house. With a second bucket, head to the backyard tap and fill that up too.

If the front yard sample is brown, the cause could be rusting in the old galvanised wrought iron pipe. Run the tap for a few minutes and take another sample. If it clears up, it will confirm that the problem is yours rather than the mains supply - especially if the sample from the back yard tap is even browner.

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3. Does brown water from tap have a taste?

Now, we don't recommend you start slurping down brown water from cold tap outlets, but if your tea or coffee has been tasting unpleasant lately, this is a further sign that your problem is rusty pipes. You might also notice that your water pressure is low (which may be caused by a build-up of rusty bits), or that some of your washing is stained.

4. Is brown tap water still safe for drinking?

While dirty tap water caused by rusting isn't a major health concern, it's understandable that you're wondering 'Is brown tap water still safe for drinking?'

The answer is almost certainly yes - the colour isn't poisonous or toxic, it's mainly just iron rust. Nonetheless, it's still important to rectify the issue as soon as possible.

The solution: Get a licensed local plumber like Fixed Today to replace, repair, flush or treat the pipes.

5. Replace the pipes or report the problem

If running your taps at full flow for several minutes usually clears the problem, it's likely you'll need to think about getting your old iron pipes replaced.

If running the taps don't work, you should consider reporting to your local authorities and asking for their help.

3 more tips for when you see brown water from cold tap:

1. Ask the neighbours

Just like when you have a blackout, checking if the neighbours are having the same problem can help to isolate the cause. Consider popping next door and asking a quick question or two.

2. Isolate the taps

If your neighbours aren't having your brown water coming from the tap dilemma, focus in on your home, plumbing and taps.

Is the problem the same from every cold tap, some of them, or a single one? If it's the latter, you can be almost certain you have corrosion in a nearby pipe, and that's valuable information to tell your friendly plumber.

3. Wait a few hours

So often, a dirty tap water problem can simply clear itself up after a few hours or days. But if it persists for longer than that, it probably won't fix itself - and it's therefore definitely time to call a certified local plumber.

The plumbers at Fixed Today are fully qualified experts in every type of household plumbing problem. So for fast response time and a 100% satisfaction guarantee, get Fixed Today to fix your brown tap water problem by calling us today!

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