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Brown Water Coming Out of Bathtub Faucet Only: Causes and Solutions

Brown Water Coming Out of Bathtub Faucet Only: Causes and Solutions

You walk into your bathroom at the end of along day, ready to unwind in a sea of warm, sudsy bubbles.

You turn the bathtub faucet handle, anticipating the pleasant sound of water filling the tub.

Your heart falls as murky brown water spouts from the tap. You can’t help but cringe and exclaim, “yuck!”

Not the relaxing evening you were looking for, huh?

Brown water coming out of a bathtub faucet only can be a real head-scratcher, especially when all other faucets in your house run crystal clear.

In this article, I’ll discuss the potential causes behind this issue and the steps you can take to fix it. So stick around!


The brown color in your bathtub water could be due to rust or sediment buildup in your plumbing system.

This can occur from corroded pipes or disruptions in the water supply or water pressure, causing particles to mix with the water and give it a brownish hue.

To fix, you can check if it’s only hot or cold water affected, flush the pipes by running cold water for 15 minutes.

If the issue persists, contact a plumber to examine your water system for potential rust or sediment buildup.

Causes of Brown Water in the Bathtub Faucet

Let’s now consider what might be causing this unpleasant surprise.

First, it’s worth mentioning that just because you see brown water in your tub doesn’t mean that other faucets aren’t also delivering tainted water.

That’s simply because the bathtub is the largest basin to accumulate water to where you can easily see it’s less than the transparent quality it should be.

Water Pipes with Corrosion

metal house pipes filled with corrosion

In my first condo, I dealt with water coming out brown in the bathtub so I get your frustration 100%.

But here’s the thing:

Pipes inevitably degrade over time!

Rust results from corrosion, which is bound to happen at some point, especially if you have plumbing made of galvanized steel.

Water leaks and tainted water sources will hasten the deterioration of your pipes. This will convert clear water into muddy brown sludge.

A sign that your water lines are corroding is when your faucet runs brown before clearing up.

This can happen in the bathtub especially because generally we don’t take baths every day.

You might go days or even weeks when you’re not running the bathtub faucet specifically.

What happens, is that the pipe lining dries out and continues the corrosion process before water has a chance to dilute it and wash it away probably unnoticed.

You probably run your sinks and shower faucets much more regularly so much smaller amounts of corrosion is “washed” through and not detected.

Increased Water Pressure

Changes in water pressure can cause brown water to come out of your bathtub faucet. 

Here’s what happens:

When the water pressure increases, it can push minerals and sediment that are loosely attached to your pipes.

Then, of course, it becomes part of your water supply.

This phenomenon can occur due to various reasons, such as the presence of a nearby fire.

In fact:

If firefighters are using a hydrant either for an actual fire or just routine testing/draining, it can affect the rate of flow to many households.

Similarly, when your city conducts regular pipe cleaning and maintenance, they send a surge of water through the pipes.

They flush out dirt and sediment, which can end up in your tap water.

Too Much Iron

High concentrations of iron in your water source can lead to brown water.

Iron is a naturally occurring mineral found in water. When present in excess, however, it can cause discoloration.

Too much rainwater can dissolve iron. It increases its concentration in your water source.

Believe it or not:

Earthmoving construction can introduce new iron deposits into your water supply.

It’s crucial to take steps to mitigate any high concentrations that may cause brown water.

Municipal Water Supply Issues

water main rusty pipes

Sometimes the problem lies with the city’s water treatment process.

If the water treatment plant isn’t removing enough minerals, it can lead to rusty water.

Another issue can occur if the city’s water main breaks. It can allow dirt and sediment to enter the water supply and flow into your home’s plumbing system.

If you experience brown shower or bathtub water, contact your local water utility company to check this off the list.

Your goal is to let them know about the problem and ask for a solution.

Tools Required for Clearing Up Brown Bathwater Quickly

Nobody wants to bathe in muddy-looking water. Here are the materials and tools that you need to help fix what you can control on your bathtub faucet:


To remove the faucet aerator or cartridge from the faucet, you might require a pliers or a wrench.

Cleaning Solution

Mix vinegar and water equally in a solution to clean the faucet aerator (only present on certain types).


Use a bucket to collect water leaking from the faucet while repairing it.

Dry Cloth

Use a cloth or rag to clean the aerator and any other faucet-related components you work on.

New Cartridge

Replace the cartridge, if necessary, if the bathtub faucet is the source of the problem.

Before removing the outdated cartridge, double-check that you have the correct replacement part.

You can usually do this if you know the manufacturer. Then you can match the model or type either to that manufacturer or a brand that makes universal/after-market parts.

How to Fix Brown Water Coming from a Bathtub Faucet

Before attempting any fix, you must figure out what is causing the brown water.


If the problem is just the bathtub faucet, it’s likely an issue with it or the pipes leading to it.

However, if the brown water comes from all your faucets, the problem might be with your water supply and something to do with what I described above.

1. Turn Off the Water Supply

Turn off the water supply to your bathtub faucet by closing the shut-off valve.

You can usually find this valve near the tap or in the basement below your bathroom.

2. Remove the Faucet Aerator (if necessary)

Remove the aerator by unscrewing it from the faucet’s spout’s end. This component, which fastens to the spout’s back, controls the water flow.

Brown water can result from sediment and debris accumulating in the aerator.

3. Check the Bathtub Faucet Cartridge

If cleaning the aerator doesn’t fix the problem, the issue may be with the bathtub faucet cartridge.

This cartridge is the part that controls the flow of water and temperature. Turn off the water supply again and remove the cartridge from the faucet.

That’s not all:

Look for any indications of rust or damage. You might need to swap out the cartridge if you spot any.

You can buy your cartridge from your local store or from Amazon. And you can check out the process of changing it in this video tutorial:

4. Flush the Pipes

You may need to flush your pipes if the problem is still unresolved. Cut off the water supply to every part of your house.

Then, turn on all the faucets in your home, including the bathtub faucet.

Let the water run for 10-15 minutes to flush out any sediment or debris causing the brown water.

5. Call a Professional

You might need to contact a qualified plumber to analyze the issue if none of the above measures works.

They can help identify any underlying issues and recommend a solution.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes brown water in my bathtub?

Brown water in the bathtub occurs when rust, sediment, or other contaminants are in your home’s pipes themselves or something further back in your water supply.

Can brown water in my bathtub be harmful to my health?

No doubt you’re probably wondering if rusty, brown water is safe to bathe in.

This less-than-clear water in the bathtub can contain harmful contaminants. It can harm your health if consumed.

It’s important to take precautions to ensure your water is safe.

Will boiling the water make it safe to use If It’s brown?

Boiling the water won’t necessarily make it safe to use if it’s brown. This process won’t remove contaminants like heavy metals that may be present.

To conclude, brown water coming out of the bathtub faucet only can be attributed to many factors, including water pressure changes, excessive iron, and corroded pipes.

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Friday 8th of September 2023

Brown liquid splattered tub. Maintenance man closed door as liquid was flowing. Night before was coughing. Day after experience. Throat felt “on fire.” After filter changed, felt relief. A.C. came on throat hurt, nose mouth irritated, not well.

Had visit with E.N. Throat. Received RXs. One 24 hour input of RXs.

Irritated nose and throat

Thinking of putting up net over vents

Do you have a thought?