When you flush the toilet is the water that refills the bowl coming out brown or discolored? Are you only noticing this in your toilet and not coming from any other taps (shower/sinks/etc.) throughout your home?
Most of us are highly dependent on using water frequently for basic daily needs. That’s why it can be stressful when something is wrong with your water supply. Although abnormally colored water can be alarming, there should be no cause for concern.
Your toilet water is most likely not toxic or hazardous and you probably have a very common issue on your hands. This may be due to a rusted pipe. Fortunately, a quick visit from a plumber will easily resolve this problem.
However, let’s help to identify the issue and provide a solution before things get worse. We’ll explain some of the reasons that your water may be coming up brown and what you can do about it.
The first thing you should try is to eliminate the possibility that the brown water is caused by residual waste. Wait for the bowl to refill, the flush cycle to complete, and flush again to make sure that everything has been discarded.
If your water is still brown, the good news is that it’s undoubtedly not the poop that’s producing the discoloration.
Why Only Your Toilet Water Is Brown
If only the water in your toilet is brown, it’s most likely due to iron pipe corrosion. In every home, there is a main water supply line that brings water into the house. This main line drives water into smaller pipes that supply all of your appliances requiring water, including your toilet.
Also, since in most homes all the water comes from the same source, the individual pipes still lead to different taps in the home. These pipes can all be made of varying materials.
In this case, your toilet may have its own water pipe, so your other taps and sources of water are undisturbed. Additionally, the rest of your water may be unaffected because only the pipe to your toilet is made of iron or is the only one with the rust problem.
If the smaller supply pipe that just supplies your toilet is starting to rust, you’ll see brownish and even red or orange tints to the water only in the toilet. Thankfully the issue is only in your toilet. If you also found brown water in your sinks or showers, this would be a much more significant problem.
What Causes Toilet Pipes to Rust
Rust is a form of iron oxide. Simply put, it’s a normal chemical reaction that takes place when steel combines with oxygen in the air and it corrodes. The main factor involved in corrosion is water. Although your pipes may appear to be solid, water molecules can infiltrate minute gaps and crevices in the metal. The moment moisture gets inside, the rusting process begins.
A rust problem is more likely to occur in houses where the plumbing was installed before 1960. Many older plumbing pipes were made of iron, which naturally rust over time. After 1960, pipes made from alternative options, like PVC, started to become the standard.
Outdated pipe materials are more prone to rust. Opting for newer plastics like PVC or PEX, instead of iron or galvanized steel, may help reduce the likelihood of a rust problem.
What You Should DoH About It
Thankfully, a rusty pipe is not something that is out of your control. There is a very simple solution to this problem: calling in a professional. Professional plumbers can inspect and diagnosis the issue. They’ll know exactly where to begin and how to repair any problems they find.
Calling a plumber to evaluate the situation and ultimately replace your pipes is your best option. They can help save you money in the long run and prevent lots of headaches. If the issue is only in your toilet you will probably only need to have those particular pipes changed. However, it’s worth having the rest of your pipes checked to avoid any future problems.
How Much Will This Cost?
In general, plumbing replacement can cost anywhere from $350 to $2,000. This all depends on the size and scale of the project. Whether or not the job requires a simple repair or a more complex replacement, the price for a plumber typically ranges from $45 to $150 an hour. Also, keep in mind that most usually have a minimum charge, a higher first-hour fee, or a trip charge.
When it comes to replacing the piping itself, the replacement of small sections of piping will run you between $352 and $1,838. The average charge for this service is $1,077.
Hopefully, the water discoloration issue you’re having is contained to your toilet because re-piping an entire home or installing completely new plumbing can cost you a pretty penny. Plumbers can usually charge anywhere from $1,500 to $15,000 or more.
It’s also important to keep in mind that depending on the extent of the corrosion, the project may require more intense labor. This could involve removing drywall or portions of the wall in order to reach the pipes. This entire process can have average costs between $5,000 to $15,000.
While replacing pipes in your home may end up being a costly procedure, it can help eliminate future plumbing issues.
Is the Rust Dangerous?
Thankfully, rust is not necessarily damaging to your health. Also, since this issue is not occurring in your bathtubs, sinks or showers, you have little to worry about. It may be gross and unsightly but it’s not toxic or unsafe. However, the iron in your water caused by pipe corrosion can result in other serious problems.
Rust and mineral deposit buildup can lead to reduced water flow and even more severe clogging. Also, as the pipes corrode, this results in thinning in the metal and weakened pipe walls. If the problem goes unchecked and there is an unexpected increase in water pressure, it can cause the pipe to burst and blow out.
What Did We Learn?
Finding brown water in your toilet isn’t a pleasant plumbing situation and can be a real inconvenience. Although it may be ghastly, it is fixable.
Fortunately, since the water discoloration only exists in your toilet, you have a very common plumbing issue on your hands. Since you most likely ruled out residual waste as the cause, the brown water is likely due to a rusty pipe.
It’s possible that your home was built before the 1960s and was outfitted with metal pipes. Obviously, this was out of your control and your pipes would need to be replaced eventually. In the future, try to steer clear of pipes that are prone to rust such as iron and galvanized steel. Instead, choose one of the many plastic options on the market.
The existence of brown water due to pipe corrosion is not something to be alarmed about. The rust is nontoxic and won’t cause any harm to your health.
Nonetheless, the corroded pipes should be replaced by a plumbing professional. Plumbing services can be expensive however, it’s important to hire a professional in order to prevent any future problems. Also, check out our guide to troubleshoot a toilet that won’t flush.