What Causes Brown Water in Toilet

It can be a frightening sight – your toilet filling with brown water after a flush. It’s something none of us want to see, but the reason might not be what you think, and, luckily, might not be as gross as you assume! In this article, we’ll examine the potential causes for brown water in your toilet and show you the steps to follow to rectify the problem.

What Causes Brown Water in Toilet?

Unfortunately, brown water in your toilet can be caused by numerous issues. Usually, the issue is caused by rusted pipes that are feeding into your toilet, as the iron and debris from the rust mixes with the water and fills the toilet tank.

However, brown water can also be caused by other reasons, including a rusted water heater, a problem with your well, or a problem with the municipality’s water distribution. Below, we’ll examine these issues in more detail, and break it down to help you decide what your problem could be.

Related: What is the best Toilet Paper for Septic Systems?

What Causes Brown Water in Toilet

Different Potential Causes of Brown Water in Toilet

Your brown water may not be exclusive to your toilet. It might also be a problem with your taps and faucets. In fact, the number of appliances from which there is brown water might help you solve the issue.

First, let’s check out the numerous potential sources of this problem:

Iron in Water

The most common reason that toilet water becomes brown is due to iron in the water. As you can imagine, iron will give the water a brown tinge. Iron often indicates that the water is encountering rust along its journey to the toilet. Often, this is due to a rusted pipe. The water flows through these pipes, where it is stained, and enters the toilet tank with a brown appearance.

Toilet sheet in bathroom

Rusting can also occur in the toilet tank itself. Various components of your toilet tank are made from metal, which can rust if not properly maintained. This empties into your toilet bowl, where you will notice the problem.

It could also be the case that your water supply simply contains a lot of iron. This won’t always give it a dark brown appearance, but it might give your drinking water a more “metallic” taste. It’s not usually a health hazard, but it can be quite unpleasant. Many people install a water softener, which will filter the water and remove certain minerals (including iron) and contaminants.

Related: What Causes black Mold in Toilets?

Water Heater

The brown water may also be coming from your water heater. And while this won’t become an issue with your toilet, it’s still worth looking out for. If the interior of your water heater becomes rusted, then only your hot water might take on a brown tinge. Be sure to regularly replace your anode rod to prevent this problem from occurring.


If your water supply comes from a well, the problem may go as deep as that. There could be dissolved bits of organic materials or sediments penetrating your well, which can cause your water supply to take on a brown appearance. This is a much more extensive fix, and you’ll almost certainly require professional assistance.

Other Pipe Contamination

Rusting isn’t the only potential problem with your pipes. In fact, several other issues might lead to a brown toilet water appearance. This includes mold, algae, and other types of corrosion. You can avoid corrosion with PVC Piping. But they have their draw backs as well, chief of which are durability and leaks.

Dirty pipes

Municipal Water Supply

Finally, the issue might not have to do with your own plumbing at all. Occasionally, when there are problems with the municipal water supply, or when there are scheduled repairs being done, the water in your home can take on a brown appearance. If this is a scheduled outage, you should be informed of this beforehand.

Related: What are those Pink Stains in your Toilet?

Why is Only My Toilet Water Brown?

If only your toilet water is brown, then this is most likely an indication that the issue in question is relating to the water that is being directly pumped into your toilet. For example, the pipes which feed your toilet might be rusted. It might also be an issue with rusted components in your toilet tank. If you can’t spot the issue in the tank, then it is likely occurring in the pipes.

How Do You Fix Brown Toilet Water?

Looking at our above list, that’s a lot of potential causes! Therefore, identifying the actual cause of brown water can be quite tricky, as it often requires evaluating the plumbing. Before you can fix the issue, the root problem needs to be uncovered.

You’ll likely need a professional that is suited to the task. The professional will know where to look and how to fix the issue. Unless you’re an expert in this area, you’ll probably need to call a plumber. It will likely be too difficult to handle without a wide range of knowledge.

Related: What Causes Black Stains in your Toilet Bowl?

Is Brown Water Dangerous?

The answer to this question depends on the source of the “brown” tinge. If your water is brown due to excess iron, it is not often harmful. Excess iron won’t be toxic or hazardous on its own in small quantities, but it will likely be quite unpleasant to taste and look at.

That being said, if you don’t know the source of the browning, then it’s not a good idea to risk it. If the problem has developed due to a faulty well, or due to mold or algae in the pipes, then you’ll want to get the problem fixed before continuing to use the water.

If the problem is exclusively in your toilet, then you (obviously) won’t have to worry about consuming the water. But you will still want to address the problem if your pipes are rusting or corroding.


Thanks for checking out our guide to this common household problem. As you can see, this is a simple problem that might have a complicated solution. Depending on the source of the issue, it’s anything from a quick fix to a complicated renovation. If you spot brown water in your toilet, or anywhere for that matter, be sure to contact a professional who can sort the issue.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.