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Ask a Contract Plumber: Why is the Water in My Faucets Brown and Cloudy?

Any contract plumber will tell you that we haven’t quite perfected the art of plumbing, and every now and again, things will go wrong or a little odd. For instance, have you turned on the taps in your Sydney home lately and wondered why the water coming out is brown and cloudy? Here are a few of the reasons why this could be happening:

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The first thing you should know if the water in your taps is running brown and cloudy is that it’s a fairly common problem and there’s no need to panic. More often than not, the water is coming out brown and cloudy because there has been a point where the water to your home has been shut off. This means that oxides on the inside of your pipes have been disturbed. To fix this, all you need to do is run your tap until the water turns clear and everything will be fine.

If running the tap doesn’t help, check to see if your tap drips when you turn it off. A dripping tap can mean a broken bibb screw that has become rusty (the bibb screw holds the washer in place). A broken bibb screw almost means that it’s very likely your washer isn’t working or even there. This is a simple fix: replace the washer and the screw and you should have no water colour problems afterwards.

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Washers come in all shapes and sizes

A less likely cause is that there has been heavy flooding in your area or near the local water treatment plant. This happened in the 2013 Brisbane floods. The water treatment plant couldn’t handle the vast amounts of water and debris coming through, so the water coming out of taps was brown and cloudy. If this is the case, no amount of letting the water run will change this, so if you need a drink it’s best to buy bulk bottled water until the problem is fixed.

There are a number of reasons why the water coming out of your taps may be brown and cloudy, but one of the best things you can do is run the taps, and then wait it out. Chances are it’s a minor problem that should only inconvenience you for a very small period of time.

Geoff James
Written By:

Geoff grew up in Berala near Lidcombe in Sydney and attended Birrong Boys High School where he finished his Year 10 school certificate. Geoff was encouraged by his uncle to consider plumbing as he had done a bit of plumbing work on weekends during his school years. DJ Childs Plumbing in Canterbury offered him a plumbing apprenticeship and he spent most of his time working on plumbing maintenance and new roofs on commercial sites. Geoff on Google+.