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May 2, 2024

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Brown and Rusty Water: Identifying the Causes and Solutions

Residents in Sydney often encounter the unsettling sight of brown or rusty water flowing from their taps. While this issue may initially cause alarm, understanding its causes and solutions can help alleviate concerns and ensure the safety of your water supply. Sewer Surgeon, a trusted plumbing service in Sydney, is dedicated to providing insights into this common problem while offering practical solutions.

Brown or rusty water can result from various factors, ranging from benign to potentially harmful. Understanding the root causes is crucial for effectively addressing the issue and safeguarding your health and plumbing infrastructure.

Causes of Brown and Rusty Water

  • Corrosion

One common cause of brown or rusty water is corrosion within the plumbing system. Over time, metal pipes can deteriorate due to chemical reactions with water, leading to the presence of rust particles in the water supply. Corrosion is more likely to occur in older homes with outdated plumbing systems.

  • Sediment Buildup

Sediments, such as sand, silt, or rust particles, can accumulate in water mains or household pipes. When dislodged, these particles can cause water discolouration, resulting in a brown or rusty hue. Sediment buildup is often exacerbated by aging infrastructure or disturbances in water flow, such as water main repairs or construction work.

  • Water Main Breaks

Damage to water mains, whether due to ageing infrastructure, ground movement, or external factors like excavation work, can introduce contaminants and sediment into the water supply. As a result, residents may experience brown or rusty water until the issue is resolved and the water mains are repaired.

  • Water Quality

In some cases, brown or rusty water may be attributed to naturally occurring minerals or organic matter in the water supply. While these substances are not necessarily harmful to health, they can discolour the water and affect its taste and odour. Water treatment processes aim to mitigate such issues, but occasional discolouration may still occur.

  • Corroded Hot Water Heater

If the water discolouration is isolated to hot water taps, the culprit may be a corroded hot water heater. Sediment buildup or corrosion within the heater's tank can leach into the water, causing it to appear brown or rusty. Regular maintenance and flushing of the hot water heater can help prevent this issue.

Solutions for Brown and Rusty Water

  1. Flushing the System

In many cases, temporary discolouration of water is due to sediment buildup in the pipes. Flushing the system by running cold water taps for several minutes can help clear out any accumulated sediment and restore clear water flow. This simple solution is often effective in addressing minor discolouration issues.

  1. Water Filtration

Installing a water filtration system can help improve water quality by removing impurities, including rust particles and sediment. Various filtration methods, such as activated carbon filters or reverse osmosis systems, are available to suit different needs and budgets. Regular maintenance and filter replacement are essential to ensure optimal performance.

  1. Pipe Inspection and Repair

If corrosion or sediment buildup within the plumbing system is identified as the cause of brown or rusty water, professional pipe inspection and repair may be necessary. Sewer Surgeon offers advanced plumbing diagnostics and repair services to address underlying issues and prevent future water quality problems.

  1. Hot Water Heater Maintenance

Regular maintenance of hot water heaters, including flushing the tank to remove sediment and inspecting for signs of corrosion, can help prevent brown or rusty water issues. Professional servicing by qualified plumbers ensures the efficient and safe operation of hot water systems.

  1. Water Testing

If water discolouration persists despite efforts to address common causes, it may be prudent to conduct water testing to identify any contaminants or water quality issues. Independent testing by accredited laboratories can provide valuable insights into the composition of your water supply and inform appropriate remediation measures.

  1. Chemical Treatment

Employing chemical treatments, such as adding chlorine or other oxidising agents to the water supply, can help oxidise and remove dissolved iron and manganese, which are common contributors to brown or rusty water. This treatment method is often used by water treatment facilities to improve water quality.

  1. Hydro jetting

Hydrojetting involves using high-pressure water streams to clean the interior surfaces of pipes thoroughly. This technique can effectively remove stubborn sediment, scale, and corrosion buildup from plumbing lines, restoring water flow and clarity. Professional plumbers use hydrojetting equipment to address severe cases of brown or rusty water.

  1. Corrosion Control

Implementing corrosion control measures, such as installing corrosion-resistant pipes or applying protective coatings to existing pipes, can help mitigate the risk of rust and corrosion within the plumbing system. These proactive measures can prolong the lifespan of your pipes and minimise water quality issues.

  1. Adjusting Water pH

Modifying the pH level of water can influence its corrosiveness and the propensity for rust formation. Adding alkaline substances, such as lime or soda ash, can help neutralise acidic water and reduce the likelihood of corrosion in metal pipes. Consulting with water treatment professionals can determine the appropriate pH adjustments for your water supply.

  1. Source Water Management

Assessing and managing the quality of the source water entering your property can play a significant role in preventing brown or rusty water issues. Implementing filtration or treatment systems at the point of entry can intercept contaminants before they enter your plumbing system, ensuring cleaner water throughout your home. Regular monitoring and maintenance of source water infrastructure are essential for long-term water quality management.


Brown and rusty water can be a concerning issue for residents in Sydney, Australia, but understanding its causes and solutions is essential for maintaining a safe and reliable water supply. Whether the problem stems from corrosion, sediment buildup, or water quality issues, proactive measures such as flushing the system, installing water filtration, and professional plumbing services can help address the issue effectively. Sewer Surgeon is committed to assisting residents with expert plumbing diagnostics and solutions to ensure clean and clear water for their homes. Get in touch today!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can brown or rusty water stain my fixtures and laundry?

Yes, prolonged exposure to brown or rusty water can cause staining on fixtures, sinks, and laundry. It's advisable to address the underlying cause promptly to prevent aesthetic damage to your plumbing fixtures and clothing.

Is there a connection between brown water and low water pressure?

Yes, sediment buildup or corrosion in pipes can restrict water flow, leading to low water pressure and potentially causing discoloured water. Addressing the root cause of brown water may also improve water pressure in affected areas of your home.

Can rusty water damage my appliances, such as washing machines and dishwashers?

Yes, rusty water can contain corrosive particles that may damage appliances over time. It's essential to monitor water quality and address discolouration promptly to prevent potential damage to your appliances and ensure their longevity.

Does brown water affect the taste and odour of my tap water?

Yes, brown or rusty water may have a metallic taste or unpleasant odour due to the presence of rust particles or other contaminants. Installing a water filtration system can help improve taste and odour by removing impurities from the water supply.

Can I prevent brown water issues in my home?

Yes, proactive maintenance and regular inspections of your plumbing system can help prevent brown water issues. Flushing the system periodically, scheduling professional pipe inspections, and installing water filtration systems are effective measures to maintain water quality and clarity in your home.