Why Is My Hot Water Coming Out Brown From the Tap and Do You Need A Plumber?

After a long day, we want to relax, grab dinner, and maybe watch our favourite sitcom before we turn in for the night.

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So I can guess how shocked you would be if you turned on the hot water tap in your kitchen only to get a spurt of brown water. Kris, a hot water repair specialist in the Blue Mountains explains why sometimes brown water is coming out from the hot water tap and when you need to call a professional plumber.

Brown water from your hot water tap means your hot water is getting contaminated somewhere in your plumbing system. Contaminated water means you and your loved ones are at a health risk.

But why are you getting brown water from your tap? What could be causing this, and how soon do you need to call a plumbing service?

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Why Is My Hot Water Brown All Of A Sudden?

There are several reasons you could be getting brown water from your tap. Knowing the particular reason will come in handy when you call the plumber. It could also determine how quickly you might need to call the plumber.

Rusty or brown water from the hot tap could be due to:

Your Water Supply Is Contaminated

Sometimes, brown water from a hot tap is not due to a faulty plumbing or heating system. It could be a public issue. To verify, check hot and cold water from different faucets around the house. If your cold water is also contaminated, it probably means the contamination is public.

To confirm, ask neighbours and people connected to the same water supply. If they complain about the same thing, you will likely not have a faulty plumbing system.

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A Deteriorating Hot Water Tank

Another reason your hot water might come out brown is that your water tank might be rusted. If your tank is rusty, the water inside will usually pick up the rust and turn a rusty brown colour.

However, the colour isn’t the only thing wrong with water from a rusty tank. Water from this tank could pose a serious threat to the health of your family. If you notice that a faulty tank is the cause of the brown-coloured hot water, you need to change it as quickly as possible.

There Are Sediments In Your Water Heater

If you do not regularly clean out and maintain your water heater, there will be an accumulation of sediments in your water heater. These sediments will turn your water a reddish-brown colour.

Sediments are not dangerous to your health, but they threaten your hot water system and will affect your energy bill. Hire a plumber to maintain your heater from time to time.

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Your Water Heater Is Too Old

Brown or rusty water might indicate that your water heater is old. An average water heater lasts 10-12 years. If you have been using your heater for longer than that, your water might get discoloured.

To check if an old water heater is a reason for the discolouration, check for leaks, unusual sounds, and sharp temperature changes. If your heater is faulty, you should get an HVAC professional to replace it.

Your Water Pipes Are Getting Old

Discoloured water might not necessarily be from the main supply or an ageing heater. It could be that your water pipes are rusted, and the clean water running through them is picking up the rust.

If your plumbing is old, it might be time to get a certified plumber to look at it and replace the rusted pipes.

Are There Any Health Risks?

This depends on the guilty contaminant. There are minerals, such as manganese and iron, that can cause discolouration without posing actual harm to your health.

Some contaminants with health implications might not change the colour of your water. In contrast, others could change the colour, taste, and smell without posing serious health risks. You cannot be sure until a professional take a look.

Whatever the case, you should fix the root cause of your discoloured water as soon as possible to avoid further deterioration.

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What To Do When You Notice Brown Water From Taps?

You need to identify the reason for the discolouration. The first thing you should do when you notice your hot water has a rusty brown colour is to check the cold water. If the water is discoloured, ask your neighbours to see if they have the same problem.

If it is a problem with the central water supply, you do not have to worry as it is temporary. Your water should run clear once the problem has been removed.

However, apart from a temporary issue with the public supply, the other reasons for discoloured hot water can be broadly grouped into two: rust and sedimentation. These reasons signify that your hot water system might need maintenance or replacement. Here are a few tips to help you narrow down the root of your problem, so the job is easier for the plumber:

  • Check all the taps and see if the discolouration affects all the taps in the house. This will help to narrow down the root of a piping issue.
  • Check the purchase and instalment date of your water heater system.
  • Check the water heater for any noise, leaks, and visible corrosion.

How To Fix Brown Hot Water? Should I Call The Plumber?

If you are sure that the discolouration is due to faulty plumbing or a faulty hot water system, you need to call the hot water repair service quickly.

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The plumber will probably just carry out routine maintenance if you have a new hot water tank. They will check for scaling and sediment; if they find any, they will flush the tank out with cold water. The hot water should start running clear after this.

If your hot water system is older than 12 years, discoloured water might mean it is time to change the hot water system. Apart from rust-coloured water, you should look for signs of water heater failure, such as corrosion, leaks, and noises. If you notice these signs, it is time to get a new heating system.


Discoloured water might not be bad for your health, but that does not mean you should leave it unchecked.

If you notice that your hot water is running brown, try to isolate the cause and contact a professional plumbing company.


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