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Why Is My Hot Water Running Brown? (Read This First!)

After a long, hard day, we await a warm, soothing bath. But turning on the faucet and finding out that the hot water is running brown might draw some worried line over your forehead.

If you are looking for an answer to what made the hot water run brown, you are at the right place. Sometimes a quick preventive action may save you from severe deterioration and help you to have clear water on the faucet.

Before seeking a solution, you need to identify the leading cause for such trouble in your water lines. Let’s find out the culprits behind brown coloring in your hot water.

6 reasons for hot water running brown

The reasons for hot water running brown might be rust, minerals, and sediment storage in the water mains. Disturbance on the water main is the main suspect for the brown water. If you can cross off the first cause, the other reasons can be supply contamination, old water heater, etc. 

The brown coloring of the hot water doesn’t bring any good news. But people quickly assume that the water turned poisonous which is hardly correct. So, you need to learn to diagnose the issue before jumping to any conclusion.

So, let’s find out the reasons why your hot water is running brown.


Before the plastic era, many old pipes were built with iron pipes. Iron over the years rusts and the crumbly, rusty particles amass around the bottom line of the pipe.

Iron rots itself and iron-made pipes become rusty on the edges. That is why, when the hot water is run on the faucet, the color turns brown.

That color is basically rusty iron particles. Instead of iron, manganese can also rust and turn the hot water brown color.

Since the rusting doesn’t happen overnight when the water is already brown, you will know the pipes are already defective.

Mineral sediments:

Water contains different types of minerals. These are not harmful in nature. But when the water heater, for some reason, doesn’t go through proper maintenance, these sediments gather in the bottom part of the pipes and water runs brown.

Minerals like magnesium and calcium with the help of chemical reactions by water form into particles and with the water, run through the faucet, causing the water to be brown.

This amassing doesn’t only turn the hot water brown, rather it blocks the pipes, so the water supply runs slowly. In severe cases, it can burn the gas burner, and heating element and stop the heating cycle once and for all.

Disturbance on the water mains:

If the brown water is running through all the faucets of the home, the culprit might be the actual water mains of the house. Since the main pipes lie on the ground underneath the home, it is plausible for the water to be compromised.

Why the water mains are contaminated, you may wonder. The main reason can be that a pipe has broken, and the muddy particles have invaded the water supply.

Water heater issue:

The reason might not be the pipes always. Sometimes the heater itself may be the reason for brown coloring.

Since the water heater has a complicated mechanism, excess heat production can deteriorate the internal organs. It may be the reason for the accumulation of sediments and particles in the supply chain.

Water heater has done its services:

Usually, a water heater lasts for 10-12 years. Check the warranty card to know the date and time you purchased the heater. If the date goes over 10 years, you should consider buying a new one.

Galvanized pipes on the water heater decay over time and the hot water carries those particles.

Galvanized steels are protected from a steel coating, but over time the coating diminishes, and the pipes are exposed. That is why brown water may be the indication for a new water heater.

Contaminated supply of water:

It might not be the reason at your home. The water that runs through your house comes from a municipal pipeline. Due to their negligence or accident, the water may turn brown.

So, instead of jumping to conclusions, contact your neighbors to check whether the coloring is occurring in the whole community.

Is brown hot water safe?

Brown hot water is not poisonous or harmful per see but that doesn’t mean it is totally safe. The reason for the brown watering of hot water is iron amassed from the rust of pipes.

Iron is not harmful to us, and our drinking water contains iron as well. But that doesn’t make it ok to keep using the brown water.

Brown water is an indication of some internal disturbance. And these disturbances usually lead to other serious issues like bacteria, pungent smell, faulty water cycle, etc. If immediate steps are not taken, the browning gets severe over time.

Using iron-filled water is not advisable either. It will cause skin irritation, hair fall, dry skin, and so on. Moreover, if the issue is not fixed, it will lead to mildew and mold. Gradually the hot water will be corrosive and unbearable. So, do not ignore it.

How long does it take for brown hot water to go away?

Generally, it takes 1-4 hours for brown hot water to go away and clean water to run in. Once the issue is fixed, the remaining water in the tank will run off eventually.

When the new water will start entering without any issues, you will receive the supply of clean water.

When the issue is resolved, start flushing the hose pipe. You can find it easily near the water meter of your house.

You have to keep flushing until the water runs clear. Then, open the faucet inside which is connected to the water heater and near the hose pipe, and remove the aerator.

Now tap the faucet open and let all the remaining brown water runoff. Repeat the process with all the other faucets at your home. Make sure all the faucets are running clear water. It should take 1-2 hours for the brown water to go away.

How do you get rid of brown in hot water?

When you diagnose and find the root cause of the hot brown water, it is time to fix the issue. Do not run to call the plumber and first see whether it is plausible for you to fix the issue. Most of the cases, the concerned issues are resolved with simple tips and tricks.

So, let’s see how you can get rid of the brown color in the hot water_

Contact the neighbors and municipal authorities.

Firstly, check with your neighbors whether the brown coloring is your issue only or the whole community.

If the issue is with the whole community, contact the concerned municipal authority to find out the issue and probable time for resolution.

Flush the water pipes.

If the issue is at your home only, open the faucet and let the water run for 20-25 minutes. It will flush the water pipes. Turn off the water heater so that new water can’t fill in the tank. Remove the remaining brown water through the faucet.

Clean the sediments:

If the water pipes are rusty and filled with sediment, those will amass at the bottom of the pipeline.

Carefully unscrew the pipes from each other and with a long hook, clean the gathered sediments. Wear hand gloves because things might get a little disgusting.  

Install a water softener or infiltration system:

If the diagnosis reports to you that pipes are rusty, the solution is to install a water softener or infiltration system.

Basically, a water softener cleans out the minerals from the running water so that the harmful particles don’t get access in the body.

An infiltration system might also be the alternate solution. You need to place the softener or system adjacent to the water heater pipelines.

Call in a professional:

If the solutions above do not resolve the problem, you need to call a professional to diagnose the issue and submit a solution.

When the issue is not with the pipelines and with the water heater, you might have to replace the default part or worse, replace the whole appliance.

Final Thoughts:

Diagnosing the problem sometimes is the hardest part. We often jump to the conclusion regarding brown hot water is poisonous. but that is certainly not true. However, that doesn’t relieve you from solving the coloring problem. Find out the right cause and take immediate steps to avoid casualties.