Why is My Toilet Water Brown all of a Sudden?

Everyone expects clear and clean water when we flush the toilet. What if it comes up brown? Gross right? Well, there are several reasons why this might be happening. Whatever the reason, this is a problem you need to fix immediately. This article will walk you through why your toilet water is brown suddenly and how to fix it. 

The most common reason for brown toilet water is rusty pipes. There might be other reasons like mineral water build-up, well damage, or clogged pipes. You can use water softeners or chlorine to soften the water and reduce the iron content in the water. 

Of all the colors in your toilet bowl, brown looks the worst. It looks like you haven’t cleaned up your toilet in ages. There are several reasons for your toilet water turning brown, but it mostly comes down to a rusty pipe or two. Let’s look at some reasons why your toilet water is brown all of sudden and how to fix this issue: 

Why Is Your Toilet Water Brown

1. Rust in pipes

The primary reason can be an elevated amount of iron in your water. Some areas naturally have high iron content. You can validate the problem by running water from the taps in your house, like your kitchen sink. 

rust in toilet pipe
Image from All American Plumbing

If other water outlets have the same colored water coming from them, you probably have high iron content in your water supply. A high amount of water can lead to more rust issues than usual. 

It’s also possible that your iron pipes are now old and are rusted. This can cause the water in these pipes to turn a nasty brown color. 

There are several ways to fix this issue, including getting an evaluation from a plumber. The plumber may replace one or two pipes with the most corrosion due to iron. 

Your plumber may also suggest using a good water softening system. This softening system can reduce the number of hard minerals in your supply and remove any harmful bacteria. 

The last thing you can do is add chlorine to clean up the water of any iron bacteria. It can’t solve the rusting pipes issue, but it can kill the iron-related bacteria effectively. 

   2. Well Damage 

Does your house run on well water? It’s very possible that the well has become infected or some kind of organic substance has gotten mixed in your well.

If this is the case, it is pertinent that you call a plumber and have them look at your system, determine the source of infection and repair it. This can happen during a storm or any sort of construction. 

     3. Wear and Tear 

Another reason can be that your toilet is deteriorating due to daily use. Use a good brush to clean out the creases and the rim of the toilet. Flush it one or two times to ensure proper cleanup. 

Toilet tank inside view with rust and calcium buildups. Fixing a toilet cistern at home.

       4. Mineral Build-up 

You don’t need to worry about this one if you have a new plumbing system. However, older pipes and systems are prone to clogging due to hard water mineral build-up. 

Minerals like calcium and magnesium can react with the water in your tank and oxidize. This oxidation gives rise to that brown color in your toilet. The usage of certain toilet cleaners can worsen this issue. 

These cleaners can cause more chemical build-up in the pipes and eventually clog them. Build-ups of these natures can block water from being drained, and pipes can send it back to the toilet bowl. Hence, the dirty brown water you witness. 

Remember that these chemical cleaners are fast at damaging your entire plumbing system. The best way to avoid using these is to use natural cleaners like baking soda and vinegar. This mix of hot water can also remedy the issue at hand and get rid of some of the hard water minerals clogged in your plumbing system. 

clogged drain pipe
Image from Nathan Gebben

       4. Clogged pipes

This one can be quite hard to identify, especially if this isn’t happening due to hard water mineral build-ups. You will need a plumber to look at your pipes and determine whether any material stuck in there is causing water to be pushed back to the toilet bowl. 

You must have a plumber do this because this isn’t something you can quickly throw a DIY solution at to fix. This must be fixed immediately because these clogs can make your pipes burst. 

It’s much more expensive to replace a burst pipe than to have a clog removed on time. 

water with iron
Image from A NOT so secret garden.

Is Iron in Water Dangerous for Humans? 

Iron in your water source isn’t that dangerous if you ingest a small amount of it by accident. However, iron in the water supply can be harmful to your plumbing system. Rusting can cause slow but major damage to your pipes. It can cause wear and tear, low water pressure, and clogs in your pipes. 

Keep in mind that although iron is a part of the metals that compose our body, but slow and constant exposure to it can cause negative health effects like: 

  • Iron overdose 
  • Bad skin 
  • Liver damage
  • Heart and pancreas damage 

More minor iron levels in your water source can leave a nasty and metallic taste in your mouth and lower the taste value of your food and drinks. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

1. Why is the water brown in only one bathroom?

This is happening because of rust in your pipes. This bathroom’s pipes may be rusting faster than the rest of the house or have corroded while others haven’t. If you see this brown water coming out first thing in the morning, the issue is definitely rusted pipes. 

vinegar and baking soda in two bottles

      2. How do you fix brown water in the toilet? 

The best solution is a vinegar and baking soda solution. Use hot water to clear up the rust and hard water mineral clogs in the pipes. A little brushing around the crevices and rim of the toilet will also clean up any residue in the toilet. 

      3. What causes stinky toilet water? 

Stinky water in your toilet can be caused by bacteria build-up, a clogged drain or pipe, mold, or a broken toilet. You need a professional plumber to look at the toilet and your pipes and determine what the cause is before they fix it. 

Final thoughts 

Brown water in the toilet bowl can look bad and indicate corroding pipes. You must have a professional plumber look at your plumbing system and rule out the above-mentioned causes. 

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