Plumbers get phone calls about brown or discolored water quite often. A lot of the time there is an obvious reason. If it’s an older home with galvanized piping, then chances are the pipes are rusting, and you get to see this in your water.
For most homeowners, this is not new news. But what if you have already gotten a repipe, and see brown colored water come out of the faucets? This was the case for a recent client of mine. We had replaced some water lines in this home, finishing a repipe that was started some years back by another company. Upon completion the water pressure and volume was good, and clean. About 18 months later I get a phone call that they had some brown water come out of the faucets, and they saved a sample for me.
When I arrive I start looking outside to see if the main water line to the home had been updated, thinking this may be the cause of the colored water. Lots of home owners and plumbers will repipe a home without replacing the main water line. This will cause a lot of issues with the new piping if the line is galvanized steel. In this case the water line was copper, it had been updated.
So I go inside, and started looking at all of the piping, and asking some questions. All of the piping looked like it had been updated, without missing any lines. While I was looking, the answers to my questions were given to me by the homeowner. Yes the brown water was in all of the faucets, and had come into the toilet when it was flushed. She then took me to the sample, which had cleared up by the time I saw the water, and all of the faucets were now running clear.
I took the sample, which was in a clear glass, and again clear water, and stirred it up. As I stirred up the glass I hear the homeowners behind me say, with some excitement “That’s it, that’s the color.” The mystery was solved, this was not rust at all–it is lime from the city water supply. This means that the city had done some work on the lines for whatever reason, and disturbed the piping enough for this to come off of the city piping, which washed out through this homeowner’s plumbing.
This is not bad to drink, just a little unsettling to see in your glass. Although some homeowners will not be as fortunate as those in this story. There may be something else going on.