Why Is My Toilet Water Brown

Why Is My Toilet Water Brown?

Finding brown water in toilet bowls can be a nightmare, especially if you don’t know where it came from. There are several potential causes of the brown color.

Some of these can be fixed with at-home solutions, but in other cases, you’ll want to call a plumber.

If you’re asking, “Why is my toilet water brown?” then the first step is to investigate the cause. Oftentimes, brown water is related to rusty pipes.

These rusted pipes release mineral deposits into the water supply, which then enter your toilet tank.

Here are the steps you should take to troubleshoot the problem.



Sometimes brownish discoloration has a simple explanation: The toilet simply didn’t remove all organic matter from the toilet bowl. So your first step should be to flush.

If the toilet clogs or drains slowly, then there might be a blockage in the pipes. From there, if the blockage is leaking waste back into the toilet water, that can cause discoloration.

You’ll want to unclog the toilet and clean the bowl. But the problem shouldn’t persist.

If more brown water rushes in from the toilet tank, though, then you’re likely dealing with a more serious issue.

Check your other taps

There is a relatively simple way to check for corroded pipes. You’ll simply want to turn on all the faucets in your kitchen and bathrooms. Watch both the cold and hot water run.

If all of your water is brown, the issue is likely related to iron pipes. The iron plumbing system in older houses is more prone to corrosion.

Before the iron supply becomes dense enough to discolor the water, you might notice that the tap water tastes like pennies. Some people also find rusty clothing stains after using the washing machine.

Unfortunately, you’ll need to call a plumber. They may recommend replacing your entire system with PVC water pipes instead.

This is a costly investment for a homeowner, but it’s critical if you want to keep iron bacteria from potentially flourishing in your pipes.

Use Water Softeners

If your water is full of iron, you need a short-term solution alongside calling a plumber.

A water softener is a type of chemical additive that can remove iron and bacteria from the water supply. It is important to note that you can’t completely eliminate hard water from a rust buildup.

But a water softener from Amazon can improve your water quality dramatically.

Use Chlorine

There’s a reason that chlorine is used so often in swimming pools. It is extremely effective at killing bacteria.

When you introduce chlorine to your system, the chemical oxidizes the iron and destroys any bacteria. Many people use this to purify their water when there are issues with their home or city piping.

Check your well

Only about 15% of people in the US rely on well water. But if you’re in that category, you should check your well.

Sometimes damage to the well can cause sediment to seep into the water supply. There may also be organic material in the water if, for example, an animal has fallen in and drowned.

A large obstruction in the well might cause low water pressure and reduced water flow. If you have reduced water pressure along with unexplainable brown water, you want a professional to check it out as soon as possible.

Check your toilet

Well Water

Maybe you’ve ruled out organic waste, but your other taps are running fine. And yet when you flush your toilet, the brown water persists.

This means that the problem is localized to either your toilet or the piping around your toilet.

In some cases, your toilet will be fed by a different water supply from the other faucets. Or it’s possible that only the waterline connected to the toilet tank is rusted.

Interior pieces of the toilet might have also become rusted. You should open up the tank and see whether there are any obviously rusted components inside.

If not, the rust is most likely located in your bathroom water supply line or your toilet supply pipe.

Check for hard minerals

If you have PVC pipes, there’s a very low chance that your system is rusted. But your water might also turn brown if your sewer piping is clogged with hard minerals.

Materials like calcium and manganese turn brown when exposed to oxygen.

Most often, hard water is the result of chemical cleaners. When you flush these down your drain, they build up in the pipes.

Over a period of time, those mineral deposits start blocking water. Then water backs up into the toilet bowl itself.

Hard water can cause your toilet and pipes to corrode much faster. It can also create layers of buildup.

When it sticks to the pipes, the scratchy surface can “grab” other materials, making your toilet more prone to clogs.

Sometimes you can clean your toilet tank to remove calcium buildup. But if the blockage is in the pipes itself, you’ll probably need a plumber.

Final Thoughts

Brown toilet water is not always an emergency, but it can be a major hassle. You’ll want to rule out rust, organic waste, hard minerals, and other causes.

If you aren’t able to diagnose and fix the problem yourself, hire a plumber who can evaluate why your toilet water is brown.