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How to Get Rid of Brown Well Water?

Well water is one installation many homeowners opt for because it is highly cost-effective, and it essentially has an approximate lifespan of 30 up to 50 years. However, you may notice a brownish discoloring in your drinking water from time to time due to the rust build-up and heavy rains.

Such an instance is a normal part of the structure, and you don’t have to worry about anything if you ever have this experience along the way.

To get rid of brown well water, there are several options – using filtration, water softeners, or the help of a professional.

In this article, I will talk about the causes of the problem to help you prevent them in the future and the remedy you have to do to make the water clear and safe once more. So without any further delays, let’s begin…

What Causes Well Water to Turn Brown?

As mentioned, well water systems have an expected lifespan of between 30 to 50 years. But there are a number of factors that would cause the water in the well to become murky and potentially unsafe. If you’re an owner of a household with water well, you don’t have to concern yourself about it because these things happen.

Also, they’re very repairable, and there are a lot of measures available to treat the water, which I will talk about extensively as we move forward in today’s discussion.

Now, below are three of the common causes of the discoloration in well water that you have to take note of—

Rust Build-Up in the Pipes

Rust Build-Up in the Pipes

Today, water pipes are either copper galvanized steel, polyvinyl chloride, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, or cross-linked polyethylene. All of which are known to be highly resistant to rust. However, rust build-up is a natural occurrence, especially for equipment and other items that are constantly interacting with water.

However, the good news is that the rusting of the pipes is something you can treat in just a few simple steps. If the rust isn’t that severe, you can brush them off with lemon and salt and then wash them off with a microfiber cloth and cold water.

Corrosion Caused by Iron and Manganese

Sometimes, the heavy rain and melting snow sediments carry iron and manganese. As a result, it can mix with the well water that corrodes the pipeline of the well and then cause brownish discoloration in the water.

The iron and manganese in the water contain several other compounds and microorganisms that could be potentially harmful to your health—

  • Ferric – this is the result of fast oxidation caused by the red iron. Ferric is characterized by the cloudy yellow or orange tint in the water.
  • Iron Bacteria is a type of bacteria found in iron water. It shows up as reddish slime that is sometimes secreted in the toilet.
  • Ferrous is a clear iron compound, but continuous interaction with the ceramic tiles causes the fixture to have a yellowish discoloration.

Mud in the Pipe Line

Again, heavy rain and melted snow can disturb the soils surrounding the well water wall. As a result, the mud will mix with the water and stream to your home’s outlets. The murky water will persist depending on the severity or amount of mud accumulation in the waterway.

Sometimes the dry soil or the drought season can cause the soil to harden and become loose. The piece of the hardened soil could fall into the well and lead to the brown water.

Is Brown Well Water Harmful?

Brown well water is the general term for the water discoloration in your household’s water outlets. Aside from the brownish color, you will also find red, orange, or yellow tints. The discoloration is caused by several factors, such as the presence of iron, minerals, or bacteria that could be either benign or potentially harmful to your overall health.

Since there’s no way for a layman to distinguish the difference between which water is safe for consumption, it is best not to drink them and try to treat the well water before rendering it no longer harmful.

Determine the Culprit – Test Your Well Water

Testing the water coming out of your faucet, especially if you own well water, is highly important because it gives you a grasp of whether the water is safe or not suitable for drinking or showering. And the basic method you can perform a water test and identify the cause of the murky water is to use a water test kit.

The basic purpose of the test is to give you a good insight into the water’s composition—

  • pH level or acidity level
  • PPM (Parts Per Million) or the measurement of the mass of chemicals or level of contamination in the water per unit volume
  • Dissolved oxygen in the water could be dangerous to both human and aquatic life. The concentration of oxygen in the water should not exceed 110 percent.

The water test should also give you the presence of the following bacteria and other microorganisms—

  • E-coli
  • Fecal matter
  • Iron bacteria
  • Total coliform

The process of testing your water isn’t that complicated as well. All you have to do is place the water on the testing kit and wait for the results. In addition, there are instructions on the package which you can refer to.

How to Get Rid of Brown Well Water?

How to Get Rid of Brown Well Water - water softeners

So how do we get rid of the brown and make your well water? You can do simple hacks at home to make the water safe for consumption. Let’s go over them, and hopefully, it will help you solve your problem—

Water Softener

The most popular method many people turn to is installing a water softener in their homes to rid of the murky appearance of the water. This type of system can significantly reduce the acidity or pH level of the water. However, a water softener has its flaws, and of them is that it may not work on severe acidity levels.

In addition, the initial and subsequent expenses involved with water softeners are relatively expensive, which would cost around $300 to a maximum of $4,000 depending on the type of system you install. Also, installation may require regular maintenance of its resin bed every two to three years to keep it in its tip-top condition.

Iron Filter

If the water softener isn’t working and fails to filter the iron and other heavy metals, you can use a more advanced installation called iron filtration. The system is effective for waters with pH levels of 6.50 to 8.00. It mainly filters heavy metals like oxidized ferrous iron and converts them to ferric-iron particles.

There are also two types of iron filters which include the following—

  • Carbon Filters – it filters chlorine in the water
  • Air Aspirated Filter –  it converts ferrous iron into ferric iron

You also have to remember that the filtered compounds have to be flushed out, which is known as backwashed, to remove the accumulated iron particles. The process uses up to ten gallons of water safe for sewer and septic tanks.

Contact a Professional

If all else fails, then the best for you is to contact your local plumber to check out if there are any damages in your well water or one of your pipelines. They are the professionals trained to do an extensive evaluation of your well water and determine the cause of the problem. They will also be the ones who will fix and do repairs to your system.

However, the inspection cost alone can be quite expensive, around $300 to $500 in the United States. But I believe it is worth your while, especially if the problem with your well water is severe.

People Also Ask

The following are some of the commonly asked questions about how to get rid of brown well water—

How Long Does it Take for Brown Water to Go Away?

When the tap water from your faucet starts to become murky, it signals a disturbance stirred in the water pipe system. The disturbance typically goes away in just a few hours once it passes through the pipe system.

However, if the issue persists, you may have to check your well water and pipe system for any damages. You can always contact your local plumber if you believe the problem can’t be fixed by yourself.

Can I Shower with Brown Water?

Murky or brown water doesn’t necessarily mean bad for your skin. However, the water may contain metals and harmful pathogens since it’s difficult to distinguish whether the water discoloration is safe or hazardous. It can potentially lead to skin infections or even health complications if you accidentally ingest the water containing metals or harmful bacteria.

Is Discolored Water Safe to Drink?

Water discolorations indicate the presence of dirt, microorganisms, or metals. Although the body could tolerate some of these elements, we would never know until it has taken its toll and affected our health negatively. With this being said—it would be best for you not to drink them at all and try to filter them before you consume the water.


Having murky water can be quite stressful and cause concern to many people with well water in their homes. However, you have to remember that it is a normal event, and it can be fixed with a few simple steps. If the brown water is perceived as not severe, you can opt for a water softener or iron filtration. Or, if the issue is severe and no simple steps can fix it, you can always call your local professional for help.

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