Imagine grabbing a glass of water from your kitchen tap only to find it’s brown! I’d imagine you’d lose your thirst pretty quickly. So, what could have caused your water to turn brown?
Is the brown water coming out of both the hot and cold taps? Is it safe to drink? Do you need to call an expert plumber? Well we’ve put together this blog to answer your questions and give you peace of mind should you find yourself in the situation where this happens to you.
First and foremost, don’t panic if you notice your tap water starting to turn brown, the quality of Victoria’s drinking water is extremely high and water discolouration is usually isolated to the individual property, not your local water supply. So, what could be causing the discolouration?
- Is it disturbed sediment from your household pipework or mains supply?
- Could it be a build-up of organic matter?
- Could it be corroded tapware?
What Can Cause Brown Water?
There are many external factors that can cause brown tap water in Melbourne, below are some of the activities we look for when determining the cause of brown water in your home:
- Has there been any works carried out on the water authority mains water supply recently in your area?
- Have there been any burst pipe repairs, upgrades to the mains or Tee insertions?
- Has there been any firefighting activity in your area? The operation of fire hydrant valves can cause large volumes of water to pass through the mains network of pipes, which removes sediment from the internal walls of the pipes, valves and fittings.
- Do any of your neighbours have brown water or is it contained to just your home?
Which Taps Have Brown Water (hot, cold or both)?
The first thing you need to determine is if the brown water is coming through both the hot and cold taps or just the one?
If it’s only coming through the hot tap, it’s more likely an issue with your hot water system and not your general plumbing pipework.
If it’s only coming through the cold water tap, it’s most likely to do with rusted steel pipework within your home.
Brown Water is Coming from My Hot Water Tap
Storage hot water systems build up sediment in the bottom of the cylinder, which when stirred up, will enter your hot water pipework and come out of your taps as brown water.
The older your hot water service, the more likely this will be the cause. Older style steel cylinders lose their internal lining over time which causes corrosion to start on the internal cylinder walls and drops into the bottom of the tank.
If this is the case, we recommend you call a licensed Plumber to provide advice on whether your existing hot water system can be flushed and cleaned or if the best option is to replace it with a new one.
Brown Water is Coming from My Cold Water Tap
A common test that your plumber will do is to fill a small white bucket with cold water from your garden tap at the front of your property, is the water discoloured and brown? Then repeat the same process from a garden tap at the rear of your property or a laundry or kitchen tap, is that brown as well? If so then its most likely your cold water plumbing pipes consist of old galvanised steel pipework that it is corroding internally and due for replacement.
If you want to determine this for yourself, all you need to do is grab a clear glass and fill it from your kitchen sink, if over time the water becomes clear then it’s time to replace your old steel pipework.
If the sediment and discolouration doesn’t clear after running your taps at pressure for a period of time, then we recommend calling your licensed plumber and reporting it to your local water authority.
What Happens if I Drink Brown Water?
If the brown water is caused by rusting pipework it isn’t going to harm you, but we recommend you call your licensed plumber to rectify the problem sooner rather than later. Rusty sediment in the water supply can cause damage to appliances and tapware throughout your home, so the quicker you get it fixed the less damage it will do.