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Why Is My Toilet Water Brown? 8 Likely Reasons

Dirty toilet bow with brownish water

When you look into the toilet before you do anything, you expect to see clear water. And if you’re constantly looking in and seeing brown water, it’s more than unsightly. It’s a sign of a deeper problem, and you’ll want to figure out what’s happening.

There are quite a few potential causes, which is why we took the time to highlight eight of the most likely reasons for you to consider here.

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The 8 Reasons Why Your Toilet Water is Brown

1. Rusted Pipes

rusty pipe line
Photo Credit: Piqsels
Likelihood: High
Cost to Fix: High
Difficulty to Repair: Challenging

There are a few things that can cause toilet pipes to rust, and it’s fairly common with older pipes. If iron in the pipes starts to oxidize, it’ll create rust, which can discolor the water.

Unfortunately, rust in the pipes will eventually lead to major problems, and it’s very expensive to repair. You can help keep rust to a minimum by keeping humidity levels down, but once something has started to rust it can be pretty tough trying to get it under control without replacing the rusted parts.

2. Dirty Toilet

Likelihood: High
Cost to Fix: Low
Difficulty to Repair: Easy

If you notice an unpleasant odor coming from the toilet and the water is constantly turning brown, you might just have a dirty toilet. It’s an unpleasant problem to fix, but simply scrubbing down the toilet might be all you need to get it under control.

Scrub the entirety of the bowl and use a few cleaners to try and clean out the pipes some and at the very least, you should be able to rule out a dirty toilet as the cause.

3. Clogged Pipes

wastewater coming out from rusty pipe
Photo Credit: analogicus, Pixabay
Likelihood: Moderate
Cost to Fix: Moderate
Difficulty to Repair: Moderate

If only one toilet in your home has brown water and it’s struggling to drain as you flush, the problem could be a clogged pipe. Even if the waste is working its way around the clog, the clog will dirty up the new water and turn it brown.

If there’s a clog you might be able to fix it with a plunger or a pipe snake, but if it’s too severe, you might need to call out a professional plumber to clear it.

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4. Mineral Deposits in the Water

Likelihood: Moderate
Cost to Fix: Moderate
Difficulty to Repair: Easy

This isn’t the most likely reason for brown water in your toilet, but it does happen and it’s pretty easy to fix. Use a vinegar mixture to clean the toilet and it’ll react with the mineral deposits in the water and soften things up a bit.

Not only can mineral deposits affect the water’s color, but they can affect the porcelain coating inside the bowl. If you suspect an excess of mineral deposits in the water do yourself a favor and add a little vinegar.

5. Toilet Isn’t Flushing Properly

person flushing a toilet
Photo Credit: Miriam Alonso, Pexels
Likelihood: Low
Cost to Fix: Low
Difficulty to Repair: Moderate

When you flush the toilet, the waste needs to go away. If there’s any problem with the flushing, it’s going to lead to dirty and discolored toilet water. But while this could be the problem, there’s already a pretty good chance you know this is the issue if it’s happening.

The cost to fix these problems is typically pretty low, but it all comes down to the exact cause of the problem.

6. Corroded Well

Likelihood: Low
Cost to Fix: High
Difficulty to Repair: Moderate

This is another unlikely cause, but if your home uses well water, it’s a possibility. However, since all the water in your home likely comes from the well, if it’s pushing brown water it’s going to show up throughout your home, not just in the toilet.

To fix this problem you’ll need to put a shock treatment in the well, then install a filter system in the well to keep it from happening again.

7. Broken Water Pump

Toilet valve
Image Credit: Oasishifi, Shutterstock
Likelihood: Low
Cost to Fix: Low
Difficulty to Repair: Easy

Your toilet’s water pump recirculates water every time you flush the toilet. Water pumps need water to run, but excess water will stay in the pump. Eventually, the water reacts with the iron, and creates rust.

This rust starts to corrode, and the corrosion discolors the water in the toilet. If this is the case, with your toilet you need to replace the water pump.

8. Rusted Toilet

Likelihood: Low
Cost to Fix: High
Difficulty to Repair: Easy

While rusted pipes are one of the most common reasons for brown toilet water, if the toilet components start to rust, it can also discolor the water.

The cost and difficulty of repairing these components all depend on what components rust, but they’re all far easier to replace than rusted pipes.

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If you have brown toilet water, don’t ignore it. Use our list to try and figure out what’s going on and make any necessary repairs. But if you still can’t figure it out, we highly recommend reaching out to a professional plumber.

Because today it’s brown toilet water, without a repair, it could turn into something far more serious!

Featured Image Credit: ThamKC, Shutterstock


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