Why Is My Toilet Water Brown?

Flushing your toilet only to be greeted by the sight of brown water is never a pleasant experience, and it can also come with quite the nasty smell. 

Don’t worry though – brown water in your toilet does not necessarily mean your toilet is filthy, there may be a problem somewhere much further up your plumbing system, or your pipes may need to be replaced. 

If you only see brown water in your toilet, and if it clears up on its own after a couple of flushes, you can write the issue off and move on with your day. However, if your toilet water is consistently brown, it may be time to conduct a more thorough examination. 

Why Is My Toilet Water Brown After Flushing?

Brown toilet water is usually caused by rusted pipes. High levels of iron can be found in well water when no chlorine is present to counteract it, which can discolour the water that is flushed. 

You may however also be facing a broken water pump, a clogged drain, or some of your toilet parts may be starting to rust. If you aren’t able to determine the cause of your brown toilet water, your best course of action is to call a professional. 

Corroded Pipes

The most common cause of brown water in the toilet are rusted and corroded pipes. 

As water travels down them, they will naturally corrode over time, which can lead to sediment forming in the bottom of the toilet tank, which will then in turn mix with chlorine-free well water and cause the brown stains on your toilet. 

You should check that the pipes are only corroded in a part of your home. If you are seeing brown water come out from every tap, there is likely an issue with your entire plumbing system. 

Even if it’s just your toilet that is guilty of brown water, you want to make sure that your old iron pipes aren’t damaged across the board, so a professional’s help is required. If you are lucky, there may just be one pipe that is causing the issue, but you definitely don’t want to let the problem spread. 

You can also use water softeners and chlorine tablets to combat some of the rust and iron, but this won’t solve the problem entirely, and you are probably looking at a pipe replacement in the near future.

Issues With Well Water

If your home is powered by well water, the cause of the brown water might be a contamination there. While it is not very common, well water can get infected with animal or human waste, and react with the iron in the water, causing the discolouration. This will usually happen after a storm, or if you have been doing any construction or landscaping near the well. 

If this is the case, you will need to call a professional to take a look at your system and repair it. You won’t be able to do it yourself. 

Broken Water Pump 

Your water pump may have a damaged filter, which can then let rust and other sediments into your plumbing system. Or, you may just not have been cleaning it adequately, so iron and limescale stains may have formed on it which are now discolouring your water. 

Changing or cleaning your toilet pump will effectively solve this issue, depending on what the damage is like. Ideally, you want to clean your water pump every 4-6 months. 

Floods Somewhere in Your Water Supply

If you’ve recently experienced a storm or heavy rainfall in your area, the drainage system of your water supply may have become overwhelmed, flooding the pipes and accumulating dirt and sediment in them. As you flush your toilet, you’ll be seeing brown water that actually has nothing to do with your own plumbing. 

If the weather has been harsh lately, check with your water company if they have had calls from people in your area complaining about the same issue, as your home will not be the only one affected. If there are no other reports of brown water, you should look into a different cause. 

Clogged Toilet Drain 

Older toilet drains may become clogged over time, which can turn your toilet water all shades of brown. If there is a foul smell accompanying the discolouration, or if the toilet is also overflowing, this is the most likely culprit. 

Even new systems can get clogged, especially if you keep flushing items that should never enter your pipes, like baby wipes or condoms. 

You can unclog your toilet yourself, either with a chemical unclogger, or with a toilet plunger or plumbing snake. Of course, you can also call the plumber in to lend a hand, make sure your pipes aren’t damaged in the process, and that there isn’t another issue afoot. 

Rusted Toilet Components

A rusted toilet part can also be the cause of your brown water, especially if you have only noticed it in the toilet bowl. 

You want to check this particular pipe, as well as the back and the inside of your toilet tank. If there is nothing rusty in there, and if your toilet is connected to a different water supply than the other taps in your home, you will need to call the expert in to check the piping supplying your toilet. 

Accumulated Dirt in Your Toilet 

Your toilet needs to be cleaned regularly in order to stay both bright white, and sanitary. If you’ve not been cleaning the creases well, they can actually be the cause of the brown water. 

All kinds of mineral deposits will accumulate there over time, so give the toilet a very good scrub, and see if your issue persists. 

Can This Affect My Toilet?

Yes, brown water will damage your toilet bowl over time, and it will become stained and dull. 

The longer you leave the problem untreated, the more damage there will be, and you may find it very hard to scrub your toilet completely white again. 

How Do You Fix Brown Toilet Water?

If your brown toilet water is caused by mineral buildup either from hard water or from a rusted pipe or toilet tank part, you can install a filter that will remove this rust and other sediments. 

It goes directly onto your main water source, and treats all the water before it reaches your plumbing system.

You can also use a rust cleaner on your toilet, that will help dissolve all those minerals and remove stains. Bear in mind though that they will keep coming back, and that you will have to keep treating them, unless you figure out a more permanent solution to your brown water problem.

If the problem is cause by corroded pipes or issues with your well water, you will need to call a professional to sort it out. 

Wrapping It Up 

The cause of brown water may be difficult to pinpoint, which is why you should start tackling the issue sooner rather than later. It may also come with a significant cost, but you will be able to rest assured your plumbing system is completely up to code afterwards. 

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