Turning on your bathtub faucet and witnessing brown water pouring out of it will likely make you think of some of the worst possible outcomes. For example, is my bathwater getting backed up by my toilet or releasing sewage? Or am I bathing in dirt and sediment?
These terrible causes of brown bath water are unlikely, and the most common reason why your water would turn brown is a high concentration of iron or rust. However, since brown bathwater has become a more common occurrence as our water systems get older, many people are wondering is it safe to use?
We will discuss the possible causes of brown bathwater and answer the critical health question: is brown bathwater safe to bathe in? Lastly, we will go over the solutions and tips to help you get rid of this murky brown water.
Why Is My Bathtub Water Brown?
Water Pressure Changes
Increased water pressure can push minerals and sediment into your water pipes, and this increase in water pressure can happen due to many outside factors.
If you had a fire near your home, firefighters would access a hydrant which will increase your water pressure.
More commonly, your local city will go through routine pipe cleaning and maintenance in which they send a surge of water to clean dirt and sediment from their pipes.
Unfortunately, some of this debris may end up in your household water system.
Corroded Water Pipes
The pipes in your home are bound to corrode over time. With corrosion, you will get rust and high iron concentrations, especially if you use galvanized steel plumbing.
Water leaks and contaminated water sources will speed up the corrosion of your pipes turning crystal clear water into brown muck. If your faucet runs brown at first but then clears up, this is an indicator that your water lines are corroding.
High Iron Concentration In Your Water Source
Iron will always be found in your water, but when iron is found in high concentrations, your bathwater turns brown. Iron gets into your water in different ways regardless of whether you have a private well or use a city water source.
Rainwater in heavy amounts can dissolve iron, increasing its concentration. Also, earthmoving construction can place new iron deposits into your water supply.
The Water Table Is Changing
The water table is defined as the amount of water that has saturated below the ground’s surface. The water table directly impacts how much iron is found in your water, and therefore how brown or clear your water will be.
The water table changes during periods of heavy rain and drought. These fluctuations between extremely dry and wet will drastically increase the levels of iron found in your water. Those with private wells will notice this change more than those who use city water.
Is It Safe to Bathe or Shower in Brown Water?
While it is not extremely bad for your health, you should not bathe or shower in brown water. While iron is an essential mineral for our health, too much of it can cause adverse health effects.
Taking an occasional shower or bath in brown water will not be enough to affect you, but regularly bathing in this type of water can be terrible for your health.
In any case, testing your water will give you a better idea of what you’re dealing with.
How to Get Rid of Brown Bath Water
- Plumbers Wrench
- Plumbers Tape
- Tape Measure
- Water Testing Kit
- Water Treatment System or Kit
Tips For Dealing With Changing Water Pressure
- You can contact your local city water district and try to find out when the city will be flushing its pipes, which gives you some time to prepare for any loose sediment or debris that may come your way.
- If you notice your water turning brown, you can hold off on bathing for a few hours, then run your faucet on cold to clear out your pipes.
- You can purchase a filtration system for your bathtub faucet, which can remove iron, rust, and other contaminants before they enter your bathtub keeping your water clean and safe.
- Lastly, be aware of any nearby fires which could cause brown bathwater due to the use of a fire hydrant.
Replacing Corroded Plumbing
Begin by inspecting your plumbing to find which pipes are corroded. This will involve entering your basement or crawlspace and visually inspecting your pipes.
Once you know which pipes need to be replaced, measure them and purchase replacement pipes and fittings.
Before going any further, turn off your main water supply.
Use a plumbers wrench to remove your bad pipes, then install your replacement plumbing. Use plumbers tape as necessary.
With your new plumbing installed, turn your main water supply back on.
Test your plumbing system, checking for any leaks or discolored water.
Treating Your Water Supply
There are many different water treatment kits and systems to choose from, do some research and find the solution that best works for your water supply.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions given by your chosen water treatment solution.
Treating water is a process that can take many days, so you should not expect to see any immediate changes in your water’s color or quality.
If your water is severely contaminated, you will likely need a second or third treatment to remove all contaminants.
Once you have completely treated your water, test your bathwater to see if the brown color has been removed.
Tips For Dealing With a Changing Water Table
Being mindful of when extreme rains or droughts occurs in your region will help you prepare for and combat changes in the water table.
If you notice you get brown water during times of heavy rain, then using a powerful iron removal solution, which is often stronger than water treatment solutions, can get rid of your problem.
If, instead, you notice brown water during times of extreme drought, then installing a sediment filter will have an impact on reducing murky brown water in your bathtub.