Brown water is often caused by internal plumbing issues or a build up of iron particles, natural minerals in ground water sources and other sediments in the water pipes supplying your home or workplace with drinking water.
An unexpected pipe disturbance or changes within the mains network can dislodge these particles, resulting in your taps running brown, orange or a deep yellow. Although this is an inconvenience, you should not assume it is safe to drink until you have sought advice from your water company. We would not recommend drinking or using water from a tap running brown water, as it could have an unpleasant taste.
What causes my water to look brown?
Water companies work to reduce a build up of particles by flushing pipes or if required, lining or replacing old, problematic pipes. Despite this, rust can become trapped in the water supply and make their way into your water through several ways. Any of the below can disturb rust particles and other sediments that have settled at the bottom of the water pipes.
- Water becoming weighed down with oxidised iron particles
- Resumed water flow after repairs or routine flushing of your mains network
- A third party such as the fire services using a large volume of water for a public emergency
What should I do if my water runs brown?
Make a note of your meter reading, as you may be entitled to a partial refund or run off credit for flushing your pipes. Run both taps to establish whether the brown water is coming from cold or hot water. If the brown tap water is from the hot water tap, your water heater may need to be flushed or replaced.
Flush out your pipes by running the kitchen tap for 20-minutes. If your tap does not run clear, wait 20-minutes before repeating. Do this a few times.
If your water and the water of surrounding neighbourhoods does not begin running clear after 24-hours, contact your water provider as the problem is likely to be beyond your domestic pipes. You should find frequent updates on the website and social profiles of your water provider.
Enquiry and emergency numbers can be found on your water bill or on the customer service area of a water provider's website. By contacting the company, you can request a identify the root cause of the brown water.
If you are not provided with an adequate explanation or brown water runs after relevant actions have taken place, you can contact the Consumer Council for Water. This is an independent body for the water industry in England and Wales.