Brown water from the faucet, shower, or toilet can be more than a little jarring. If your home's water has gone from crystal clear to brown, rusty, or discolored overnight, don’t panic. In most cases, brown or dirty tap water is a temporary nuisance – and it’s not necessarily dangerous.

Read on to find out what causes brown water, whether it’s dangerous, and when to call the professionals.

Why Is My Water Brown?

There are several potential culprits and, as we’ve noted, brown tap water is not usually dangerous. In most cases, your dirty tap water was likely caused by one of the following issues:

1. Water pressure changes in the city water lines

When city water lines crack or undergo regular maintenance, a sudden change in water pressure often occurs. This kicks up dirt, rust, and sediment that usually rests in the bottom of city water pipes. Luckily, this typically clears up within a few hours, although it can take longer if the change in water pressure results from serious system failure, like a water main break.

2. Residential water line corrosion

Your own pipes might be the problem. Older homes, especially those built before 1960, use galvanized steel water lines. These pipes start feeling their age after a half-century or so, which results in rusty sediment. If you only experience brown water intermittently or at one faucet, water line corrosion is the likely culprit.

3. Faulty filtration equipment

It doesn’t happen often, but some communities experience discolored water due to old or faulty filtration equipment at their local water treatment facility. This is more likely to occur when municipal water treatment equipment is not designed to handle increased water volume due to a growing population.

4. Water heater issues

In some cases, brown water comes from your water heater. Over time, hard water, minerals, and corrosive particulates cause the interior lining of the water heater to deteriorate. There’s a telltale sign for this one – we’ll get into that shortly!

If you’re concerned about your water quality, contact your local Benjamin Franklin Plumbing to fix your plumbing or water heater or to talk with you about your home water treatment options.

What If My Hot Water Is Brown, But Cold Is Clear?

This is the telltale sign that the problem is with your water heater. If only your hot water is discolored, there’s a good chance your water heater is to blame. Your local Benjamin Franklin Plumbing will inspect your unit and recommend maintenance, repair, or replacement. A routine tank flush often resolves a brown water issue quickly!

Why Is My Water Brown Only in the Bathroom?

This is more common than you might think! If you notice discolored water from the bathroom faucet or tub/shower, it’s usually caused by water line corrosion somewhere in your home. Isolate the problem by double-checking your water color from every water fixture, including your dishwasher and exterior hose bib to narrow down problematic piping. If you’re not sure you’ve isolated the issue, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing can help!

No matter what the suspected cause, discolored water that lasts more than a few days requires professional attention. In the meantime, consider using a water filtration pitcher or faucet attachment, or sourcing bottled water as a precaution.

From Brown Water to Leaky Pipes, We’re Here to Help

Not all plumbing problems resolve themselves – far from it. That’s why thousands of families rely on Benjamin Franklin – The Punctual Plumber – to show up on time and deliver service you can count on to get home life back to normal.

Brown water? Any other plumbing problem? Find the Benjamin Franklin Plumbing location near you or call (800) 259-7705 today!