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Why Is My Toilet Water Brown? 5 Possible Reasons

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Most property owners hate dealing with plumbing issues. At their simplest, they are a minor inconvenience.

We all have to plunge a toilet every once in a while, right? But major toilet issues, for example when drains clog and sewage overflows, is a big pain.

One common issue that homeowners and commercial property owners have to manage is brown toilet water.

Toilet water can turn brown for several reasons. Some of them include dirty water from your tap, too much iron in your water from decaying pipes, and a dirty pump filter. Fixing the brown toilet water is important to your long-term plumbing performance.

dirty toilet in a house

There are things you can do as a property owner to narrow down why your toilet water is brown. However, unless you’re a skilled DIY plumber, you will probably need to hire a professional to get your water clear again.

Here are five reasons your toilet water is brown and what you can do about it.

Reason 1 – You’ve Got Corroded Pipes Leaking Rust into Your Toilet Water

One of the most common causes of brown toilet water is pipe corrosion. Pipes are extremely durable. They last for years without much upkeep.

Most of the time, we don’t have to deal with them, so we rarely think about them. However, pipes in plumbing systems in every property around the world eventually run into trouble. When they start to decay, it affects performance and the way your water looks.

Bathrooms often have their own set of pipes, but the water for the entire property usually comes from the same source.

That explains why the water in your sinks may be clear and your toilet water is brown. As the water moves through your bathroom pipes, rust is washed into the water supply and darkens the water.

This is particularly an issue in older pipes that are made of iron. Modern plumbing pipes tend to be made of galvanized steel or PVC to prevent rust issues.

Some other signs of too much iron in your water are water from your tap that tastes like metal and a swampy smell around your faucets and drains.

Reason 2 – Issues with Your Well Water

If your home or commercial property draws water from a well, your water could be brown because you’ve got waste or some other organic matter in the well. It could be human waste or animal waste.

Take a look at the water and see if there is any sediment in the toilet bowl. This is a typical sign of organic water and you should check your well to make sure it’s clean.

interior of dirty toilet room needing to be repaired

Reason 3 – Brown Toilet Water can be the Result of a Broken Water Pump Filter

Most plumbing systems have a water pump filter that handles filtering out sediment and other debris that tries to make its way into your pipes. If your water is brown, you could have a malfunctioning or broken water pump.

Every homeowner should know where their water pump is located. If you don’t, take a look around your property to locate it. See if you can see anything wrong with it. If not, you can always call a plumber for help.

Reason 4 – A Major Storm Breaches Your Water Supply

Sometimes strong storms cause floods that overwhelm water supplies. Floodwaters can bring dirt and mud into your well, which can cause your toilet water and other faucets in your home or building to turn brown.

Even if you don’t have a well, in severe instances storms can contaminate public water supplies.

After a serious storm, if you turn on the water and it’s coming out brown, you should give the water company some time before things return to normal.

Reason 5 – Clogged Drains can Cause Brown Toilet Water

If you’ve got partial clogs in your toilet pipes, it could be the reason your toilet water is brown.

Organic matter (the polite word for human waste) can collect inside and, when your toilet isn’t in use, the sediment can permeate back up into your water bowl.

person in blue gloves cleaning toilet

You’ll smell it if this is the reason your toilet water is brown. One other symptom is if you’re constantly having to plunge your toilet. It may take a professional plumber or you buying a snaking tool to shake the debris free.

Things You Can Do

A professional plumber coming to fix brown toilet water can be expensive. So, if there are things you can do yourself that will fix the problem and save you money, it’s worth a go.

One thing you can try is installing a water softening system in your plumbing. It’s not overly complicated to install, and it will do a lot of work to filter out rust and other minerals that are in your plumbing water.

This will only work, usually, when you know you’ve got older pipes and rust is an issue. If you want to find out if you have iron in your water, you can find iron level testing kits online or at your local hardware store.

If you’ve got a private well, you should check to make sure it’s clean regularly. Keep it well-protected and make sure it’s delivering the clear water you expect.

The Bottom Line

No one wants brown toilet water. We want crystal clear water coming out of all of our pipes. Brown water, when combined with other plumbing issues like an overflowing toilet, can cause property damage and make life miserable.

When in doubt, call for an expert local plumber who can get to you quickly to make any necessary repairs. They’ll have years of experience spotting brown water issues and will work with you on a remedy.

Before you know it, your toilet will be clear again and you’ll feel good knowing that everything with your plumbing system is in good shape.


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