Brown Well Water: Causes, Preventions and Solutions

Impurities in well water can change its color. One of the problems common to a majority of wells is the brown colored water. It can happen due to many reasons and can be very irritating. No one would want to use red-brown water for doing anything. Even imagining drinking brown water gives us freaks.

In this article, we will discuss the reasons behind brown well water and what are its solutions.

Reasons behind Brown Well Water and Their Solutions

Your well water can get reddish-brown due to the following reasons.


Iron is the most common culprit behind brown water. You would be surprised to know that there are three different types of iron found in well water, and each one can give a different shade of brown in water. Luckily for you, one single filter can remove all of them. They are listed below.

  • Iron bacteria, it gives a reddish color and appears as slime. It is usually present in toilet tanks.
  • Ferric iron, also known as red iron and makes the water cloudy and orange-brown
  • Ferrous iron, it will usually not impart any color to water but impacts the taste of the water. It gives a metallic taste and leaves stains on laundry and crockery.

Solution –You can easily find a water filter to remove iron in the water. Iron filters have different capacities to remove iron and other contaminants. A whole house combo filter is best in this regard. We suggest that you get your water tested before buying an iron water filter. You must also keep in mind its filtration capabilities for other contaminants in the water. The safe limit mentioned by EPA is 0.3mg/L. If the water tests indicate a higher limit than this, you must install an iron filter urgently. Iron can be harmful to your health above these limits.


Rust in well water

Another reason behind brown well water is rust in water pipes. Rust particles may not come out from all taps. A portion of water pipes may be old and rusty. Water moving through it will dissolve rust particles and give brown color. If you live in an old house and the pipes have not been replaced recently, you need to get your water tested for lead.

Solution – The immediate solution to this problem would be to stop using such taps. You can also shut off the incoming water to these faucets if they have independent valves. If this is not possible, you can collect the water in a bucket and wait for a couple of hours. The rust particles will settle down. You can then use the clean water above the rust particles. The permanent solution to this problem would be to replace that section of plumbing.

Well Infrastructure

Sometimes the well infrastructure can get weaken. There is a possibility that your well starts to give brown water after it rains. It happens due to the mixing of dust, sand, or other impurities. Brown water can also come from taps in case if your well has cracks inside.

Solution – If you know that there is no iron in the water, your well may need to be renovated.


Tannin in water

Tannin is a yellowish or brownish bitter-tasting organic substance present in some galls, barks, and other plant tissues. The tannin problem is more common with shallow wells and happens during the autumn season. The dry leaves fall during autumn and gather on the ground. The water can permeate through tannins, and you will get brown colored water. Tannins will not harm your health but can leave stains on clothes, floors, and crockery.

Solution – It is a type of sediment, and a sediment filter will remove it for you. If you have a high-quality, well water filter installed with your well, you don’t need to worry about tannins or any other sediment. You can also rake your garden area near the well to clear the tannins and tree debris. Well experts suggest that you must keep the area near your well neat and clean. It helps in improving water quality and increasing well life.


Silt, dust, sand, and other organic waste can make your water look brown. Suspended particles in water are usually not harmful but look irritating. They can also change the taste of your beverages.

Solution – A sediment filter will remove all the suspended particles from the water and remove the brown color from your water.

Brown Color in Hot Water Taps

It is also possible that only the hot water taps give brown-colored water. In such a situation, the issue is with your water heater and not your home’s entire plumbing system.

Solution – Get your water heater serviced or flush it.

Can’t find the Problem?

If you have tried everything and can’t locate the reason for brown well water, it is time to get it tested. EPA recommends that every well owner must get their water tested annually. Yearly testing will tell you about viruses, bacteria, nitrates, heavy metals, and other contaminants.

Other ways to remove Brown Color from Well Water

You can also use the following ways to remove iron and the brown color caused by it.

Greensand – A greensand filter uses potassium permanganate to remove iron from raw water. Sometimes a mixture of chlorine and potassium permanganate is also used in some filters. The soluble iron is oxidized into insoluble form and then removed by the filtration bed.

ion exchange method

Ion exchange – Some water softeners are capable of removing iron from water. If you are looking for a combo to remove the hardness and iron from water, a salt-based water softener is a reliable choice. Please note that salt-less water softeners are not able to remove iron from water.

Aeration – Aeration is also used to treat well water. Aeration uses dissolved oxygen to oxidize several compounds such as iron, manganese, ammonium, and organic substances. Aeration also removes gases such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen sulfide from the raw water.


Is brown well water safe to drink?

Brown well water after floods and heavy rains is a common occurrence in improperly installed water wells. Most of the time, it is dirt gathering in water, but it can also be animal feces, manure, and bacteria in it. If you can’t find an alternate source of drinkable clean water, we recommend filtering the water first or letting the dirt and impurities settle down. Then pour the clean water into a boiling pan and boil before consumption. Boiling the water kills a lot of germs and removes impurities from water.

Which is the best water filter to remove iron from well water?

AFWFilters fleck iron pro is one of the best water filters to remove iron and hardness well water. Apart from iron and hardness, it will also remove manganese, sediment sand, and rust from well water.

Which is the best overall solution for purifying well water?

Well water is generally pure than city water. However, it can develop some problems from time to time, and you can’t risk it. Therefore, you must install a water purification system. The best way to pick a water filtration plant is to get your water tested first and then buy a filter best suited for contaminants found in your water

Final Words – What’s the best setup?

You don’t only have to clear the iron in well water; you have to make sure that all the other contaminants are removed by your filter as well. While it is advisable to install a designated iron filter for wells with frequent brown color problems, you must get your water tested for a complete water report. Once you have the report in your hands, you will be able to buy the most relevant filter for your well water.

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