All our water supply networks contain iron mains which over time slowly corrode producing a small amount of iron deposit. For the vast majority of time the water flows over these deposits without disturbing them. However, when the rate or direction of flow changes significantly e.g. if a main bursts or a fire hydrant is used, the deposit is picked up into the flow of water, giving the water a brown/yellow/discoloured appearance.
If the discolouration is due to the disturbance of the harmless layer of sediment, you may not wish to drink the water because it looks unpleasant and we advise that you do not use the water to make up babies' bottles. We would also advise you not to use appliances connected to the water supply, such as washing machines or dishwashers, until the water has cleared as it can also cause staining to your washing. If this has happened to your washing then don’t let the clothes dry out and wash the affected items in water containing a product specifically designed to remove rust stains.
What can you do?
If the problem is because of a burst or works on our network, we will always flush the water supply network to return the water quality to its normal high standard, but you may need to run your cold kitchen tap to clear any discoloured water that may have entered your supply pipe. Running your kitchen tap will not be effective if the problem is still happening, so you may need to wait.
To flush through, you should run your cold kitchen tap or the first tap connected to the mains at a steady rate. This may take some time to clear and we suggest you try running it for 5 minutes at first. If the water begins to clear, you can continue until it clears completely. If it does not appear to improve, then please check our incident alerts for on-going works in your area at www.affinitywater.co.uk/alerts. If it goes on for longer or you are concerned then please contact us and we can advise you further.
Another possible cause for discoloration is the internal corrosion of galvanised iron service pipes (the small diameter pipe that connects your property to a water main). This type of discoloration is sometimes apparent when water is left standing, particularly overnight, and will usually clear very quickly when you run your cold kitchen tap but will reoccur frequently. You may find that your neighbours are not experiencing the same issue and it would be advisable to contact a WaterSafe plumber who can advise you on the next steps to take.
If you have brown deposits in your hot water, this may be caused by the deterioration of your storage tank. You may wish to contact a WaterSafe plumber or heating engineer who can advise you on the next steps to take.
For more further information about approved plumbers please check our website.