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How to Get Rid of Brown Well Water | Easy DIY Fixes

how to get rid of brown well water
Written by Jenny Molin

We have all had that sudden feeling of repulsion and disgust as we pour a drink of water from the faucet and find it discolored. However, we shouldn’t be so alarmed as, although it is nature, it is nothing to do with sewage.

There are a few reasons as to why your water may be coming out a brown color and all can be fixed once you have established the root of the problem.

This guide will give you information on the common causes of your well water turning brown and the best solution for each problem.

Some common causes of brown well water

1. Rusty pipes

If your pipes have rusted then this could be the cause of discoloring of your water.

Check the color of your water and if it is reddish-brown then it is likely that rusty pipes are to blame. This doesn’t mean it is from the well though as the rusty pipe could be anywhere in your plumbing system.

Try different faucets around the house and if some run clear water you can eliminate those pipes and narrow down the culprit.

2. Iron and Manganese

Snow or stormwater can mix with iron-bearing rocks or soil and corrode your pipes. This will leave a noticeable taste in the water from the additional iron.

There are three main types of iron to distinguish between.

  • Ferrous iron

If you allow a glass of water to sit and it starts to turn a brown or red color, it is likely you have ferrous iron. It can leave stains on your clothes and ceramics and requires a water softener to eliminate.

  • Ferric iron

If your water is coming out cloudy with a hint of yellow or orange, it is likely to be Ferric iron. Ferric iron is oxidized and therefore can be caught with a filter.

  • Bacterial iron

Open your toilet cistern and if there is a red slime circulating then you most likely have bacterial iron.

You’ll need to physically scoop it out and then use chlorine to disinfect.

3. Mud in the pump

If you investigate your well and find that mud is falling in from the surrounding soil, then you have easily isolated the cause.

You’ve to physically remove the mud and prevent more from falling in. You then should run your water until it runs clear.

4. Silt & Sand

Though uncommon, if your well water contains silt then it is important to act promptly.

Brown silt-laced water is potentially dangerous to your health and your home. Silt in your water could be evidence of coliform, fecal coliform, or E. Coli which can cause sickness if ingested.

Any solid residue in your pipes could cause issues to water flow and undue pressure on your pipes and plumbing.

5. Tannins

Nature is often the root of the problem and tannins dissolved from leaves will affect the watercolor too. This is to be considered if you have a shallow well as dry leaves drop in fall they may congregate near your well and then rainwater will percolate through them.

Like a cup of tea, these tannins may alter the taste of your water and stain your clothes, but they are not harmful.

How to Get Rid of Brown Well Water

Simple Ways

1. Run the faucet

The first port of call to fix this would be to simply run your taps for about 20 minutes and see if the water turns clear.

2. Remove the aerator from the tap

The aerator may have become clogged with particles that are causing the discoloration. Simply remove, check, and clear if necessary.

3. Drain and flush your water heater’s tank

You should give your water heater a mini service twice a year. Everybody needs a little TLC and that is no different for your appliances. This will help prevent the build-up of sediment that can calcify if left untended.

You must turn off your gas and water supply to the heater prior. Please refer to your manual for how to do this.

4. Call your water supply company

If the water in your tap does not clear after doing these simple fixes, then you may want to call your water company to come out and fix the problem.

Even if they simply diagnose the cause, you will be able to use the following advanced solutions as you will know which one is the correct way forward.

Advanced Ways

1. Water softener

If iron ore is the cause, then the correct way to remove it is by using a water softener.

A water softener cleans the calcium and magnesium through ion exchange replacing it with sodium.

The process of ion exchange also removes the iron residing in the water and well.

2. Ion-exchange

A different approach to water softening is to get a system in place for your whole property.

Installed at the property point of entry, prior to passing through the water heater, a system like this can offer soft hot, and cold water to all faucets and outlets in your house.

This system works the same as the previous water softener but adds a pre-filter for sediment which will also catch any unwanted silt that may have infiltrated your water.

3. Air injection oxidization

Air injection filters are very self-explanatory – they inject air (oxygen) into the system that oxidizes the unwanted manganese and iron particles and makes them stick to the surface of the media bed.

When the scheduled program flushes and regenerates the bed, the oxidized particles will be removed.

4. Greensand filters

Greensand filters have a coating of manganese oxide that oxidizes the manganese and iron particles, leaving them in a solid-state which of course then sink to the bed at the bottom and are flushed away next cycle.

The only differences between Greensand and Air injection filters are cost and installation. So that is something to be considered.

5. KDF (Kinetic Degradation Fluxion) filter

KDF filters are not the most popular option as they do not have the power to completely clear most well water. They function using metals like zinc and copper which act as catalysts to oxidize contaminants that are in both liquid and solid form.

However, unlike injection filters, they will often leave a small residue of iron that will re-accumulate over a shorter period.

6. Sediment filtration

A sediment filter or micron filter works with the use of fine mesh screens that allow water to pass through but filter iron, rust, or other tiny particles from your water system.

Though these filters can prevent physical particles from getting through they cannot prevent dissolved iron in a liquid from continuing into your water supply. That’s the reason an oxidization process is always encouraged.

7. Reverse osmosis

Reverse osmosis systems are generally considered to be the best solution to contaminated water supply.

Installed at the property point of entry, prior to the water heater, these systems can remove high amounts of contaminants including pH hardness, lead, and sulfur through a series of filtration and a reverse osmosis membrane.

The only downside is that you may need a professional to install this, raising the cost, and it may affect the water pressure meaning you wait longer to fill the kettle.

8. Replace rusted pipes

If rust on your pipes is the cause of your problem, then unfortunately there is no other option but to replace them.

You will require a professional for this and costs may be higher but it should be considered a priority for the sake of your household’s health.


1. Is your brown water being caused by your pipes?

Ans. The best way to tell is the taste will have a metallic tang to it and the water will have a reddish-brown tint.

2. Is discolored water safe to drink?

Ans. It is generally advised not to drink discolored water as you don’t know what you are ingesting.

3. Is brown water dangerous or harmful?

Ans. Brown water is usually not harmful, but it is unlikely to be unpleasant and undesirable.

4. Is it essential to test your water?

Ans. All home and building owners should regularly test their water supplies as it allows them to check their systems comply to standards and regulations, ensure water is safe to drink, record any changes to their water and determine whether their chosen water treatment system is fit for purpose.

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

Ans. Depending on the source of the contamination, this could be anywhere from minutes to hours.

6. Is brown water safe to shower in?

Ans. Though it may not be everyone’s first choice, it is okay to shower in it. It will not turn you brown as it is generally just an indication of a high deposit of iron or other sediments. However, you will not want to ingest it so it may be wise to wait a while.

About the author

Jenny Molin

Interior Design Artist

Hello, I’m Jenny. I’ve been an interior design artist by profession since my B.S. in Interior Design. I’m a minimalist and prefer to save space when choosing fixtures, sinks and fittings. My style tends to make the most out of the least amount of space. The idea behind every interior design project is unique and it reflects personal style, taste and tradition. I’ve learned more when working than I ever did while I was studying in college. I worked in more than 12 hundred households all across the US and got positive feedback. I’ve been working with FaucetsReviewed as one of the founding members and regularly contributing to the site via testing and reviewing various interior fittings and fixtures.

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