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Why Does Faucet Water Become Discolored?

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If the faucet water in your home develops a brownish tint or any type of discoloration, you're obviously not going to feel too confident about drinking it or using it in the home. If your water isn't crystal clear, you should look into the cause of the discoloration before using it. 

The following are four of the most common causes of discolored tap water in the home:

Iron content

When tap water is tinted a brown or reddish brow color, the discoloration is probably coming from iron pipes that are getting old and possibly beginning to break down.

In addition to age, other factors that can allow iron to tint tap water include water main breaks, disruptive construction projects, maintenance procedures in the municipal water supply, and the use of fire hydrants. 

Zinc discoloration

Sometimes, water is only discolored when faucets are set to cold. In this case, discoloration could possibly be caused by the zinc coating the is put on pipes. If cold water is only discolored initially when the water is turned on, it could indicate that this zinc coating is beginning to come off. 

Sediment problems

Brown water frequently is caused by various types of sediment in the municipal water supply. If it's not caused by iron, brown sediment in your water could be caused by dirt and other debris. This type of debris can be stirred up by work that's being conducted on your community's water system.

If you notice discoloration in your water, a good source of information on the reason is the municipal water supply authority in your area.

Hot water heater issues

Your hot water heater could cause your water to become discolored. If you notice discoloration when you turn your faucets to hot, there might be debris or mineral sediment in your water heater. This is especially common in homes with hot water. 

If your water heater is causing discolored water, your hot water tank needs to be drained and flushed. In homes with a persistent hot water heater discoloration problem, it might be a good idea to have a water softener system installed.

Can I safely use discolored water?

Many homeowners will not want to use discolored water even if it is safe to drink, and it's always important to be absolutely certain of the cause of discoloration before drinking the water. However, discolored water is often safe to drink if the discoloration is caused by iron sediment.

You might be able to get rid of temporary discoloration by flushing your cold water tap. If you have concerns, you should call a plumber to determine the exact cause of discoloration. (For more information, contact Four Elements Plumbing)