Why is my Well Water Brown?


well water

If you are one of those people who get their household water from a private well, you might be familiar with the brown water issues. Usually, wells provide safe, good quality water, comparable to the central water systems. Still, on rare occasions, water discolouration occurs. You might start worrying and wonder what the reason for water changing the colour is? Is it a red flag or we shouldn’t pay much attention to it?

Most likely, brown water means that there is too much iron, rust or other sediments in the water. There can be several reasons for this. For example, it could be that water has a high concentration of minerals, your pipes are rusty, or there has been a temporary suspension of water supply. Brown water, according to tests that are made, usually meets safety standards and is suitable for drinking. Yet, it is extremely unaesthetic and looks contaminated which deters people from drinking it. 

Below we will discuss in detail what the most common causes of brown well water and how to deal with them. Continue reading, and you will be able to enjoy top quality well water in no time.

Detailed Explanation of the Causes

The best way to know if your well water is safe to drink or use for cooking and bathing is to ensure that you know the cause of its discolouration. There are several reasons why your well water might be brown colour or brownish. Below we will discuss the most common of them.

  • Concentration of minerals such as iron and manganese. Water itself might be high in iron, manganese or other minerals. After a heavy rain or snow water seeps through various rocks and soil dissolving minerals, which end up in your well. The minerals react with oxygen which results in a dirty brownish colour, change in odour and sometimes metallic taste.
  • Rust. The second leading cause of the brown tint in your water can be rust. You should make sure that the pipe bringing well water to your house is in good condition. The pipes’ corrosion can cause rust particles to form on the bottom of the pipes, which then results in rust in your water flow. Rust is also common if the water supply has been shut down for a while. This applies both to well water and the water coming from the central system. If brown water comes only from the hot water tap, there might be rust in the heater tank.
rusty pipes
  • Iron bacteria. Iron bacteria is another common cause of brown water. While not being dangerous for your health, iron bacteria feed on iron in the water this way, resulting in mucus-like brown sediment. If you open your toilet tank and see slimy residue, it is most likely iron bacteria. It is not dangerous for your health but can result in plumbing system damage.
  • Well itself. If the change in the well water has been sudden, it might be that there has been a change of water level or supply. If the water level has changed, the pump might start pumping out mud. Also, if there has been heavy rain, this might have brought chemicals or other substances infiltration from the soil to the well water. A normally functioning well with a sanitary cap should not be affected by rain. But heavy rain and snow could damage the casing of the well, allowing surface water and bacteria to enter.

Remember that brown water can also be a result of a combination of some of these factors.

Test Your Well Water

testing well water

Before you call the plumber or water drilling company, it is best to test your well water. Testing will show what has caused water discolouration. It will also provide information about the well water quality and if it is safe to drink and use. Sometimes even if the water is transparent, it might have chemicals non-visible to the eye. Tests will show the levels of iron, manganese, water’s Ph, and dissolved solids. You can also undertake tests for e-coli and fecal coliform and other bacteria. Quality of well water might change over time, so you should test your water regularly to ensure that you have access to quality water. Besides, testing will help you to save money by spending it on fixing the right cause.

How to Get Rid of Brown Well Water?

Here are some of the most common ways to get rid of dirty water and enjoy clean, high-quality water once again:

• Testing. Test your water to know how to get rid of the particular problems. You need to understand the exact cause of the brown well water to target it effectively.  substances that exceed the norm in the water will you be able to deal  with the occurring problems. Sometimes the taste, smell or colour of the water does not look different than usual. But, water may not be suitable for drinking.

• Run your tap for a while. If your water supply was shut down for a while, then running your tap water for some time could be a solution. It will allow flushing the sediment rust and other particles at the bottom of the pipes.

• Filter the water to be sure of its quality. The filtration system is another excellent way to solve the problem as it removes all unnecessary water impurities. For example, Reverse Osmosis Well Water system removes about 98-99% of dissolved solids. This means that the water also loses its unusual colour, smell or taste. Also, such a system does not take up much space in the kitchen so that it can be conveniently installed and used. Follow the filter maintenance instructions to ensure that this is a long-lasting solution. Alternatively, you can get a sediment filter for well water if you’re concerned only about sediment.

• Contact specialists. If the problem of dirty water recurs quite often, it is worth contacting specialists. They will determine the actual cause and provide you with the right solutions. There is a possibility that the problem could be in the domestic pipes of your home. Or it can be any other reason you could not even think of.

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