We expect the water that comes out of our faucets to be clear and clean of contaminants. But, sometimes the quality will be compromised, the color and the taste may be strange and unpalatable. The cause of this could be rust, depending on how old your water heater and pipes are, it could even be originating from inside your home. Sometimes, rusty water can be in your public water supply if your city has an older public water system that hasn’t been updated for a long time. Finding the source of the rusty water can be tricky, so here are a few clues that will help.
Is the Contamination Rust?
Many types of water contaminants require water testing to supply a definitive answer. But, if you take a water sample of your own, you will notice that rusty water has a reddish brown appearance and very distinctive metallic smell. Rust particles are small flecks of oxidized iron, they will stain your sinks and clothes, but they don’t represent a health hazard. The only exception is hemochromatosis, this a very rare disorder which causes the body to accumulate iron levels that are dangerous.
What is the Source of the Rust?
It’s important to establish whether the rusty water is coming from the public water supply or from inside the home plumbing first. This is easy if you follow these simple steps and carry out a DIY water test:
- Go to the fixture where you first noticed the rusty water.
- Fill a glass from there with cold water.
- Examine the water sample for the reddish color and metallic odor.
- Go back to the fixture and run the cold water for several seconds.
- Take a second sample in another clean glass and check it for rust.
- Run the hot water for several seconds and check the water sample.
If you discovered that the rusty water is only present in the hot water samples or if it goes away when the water is run for several seconds this is good evidence that the rusty water is originating in your home.
If there is a continuous supply of rusty water to your faucets, you should contact your local water authority and report that you have a rusty water problem.
Where is the Rusty Water Coming From?
If the rusty water is coming from inside your home, as shown above, the results of your DIY water testing can help you to narrow down your search for the source.
If the rusty water only came out of the cold water tap, this means that there is a rusting pipe somewhere in your plumbing system.
If the rusty water only came from the hot water tap, this means that you have rust inside your water heater.
What Should You Do?
Rusting parts cannot be repaired, and replacement is required. If the source is a section of the public water system that pipe will need to be replaced. If the rust is coming from in your home, the corroded pipes will need to be located by a certified plumber
and replaced. If your water heater is the source, replacement is the usual solution because corrosion will progress until the tank fails. If you do install a new water heater, make sure you replace the anode rod regularly to avoid rust problems in the future.
By Giovanni Longo President Flood Brothers Plumbing
Giovanni Longo is a 3rd generation master plumber who has been practicing his craft and trade in the greater Los Angeles area for well over a decade and a half. A plumbing and hydraulics-engineering innovator, Giovanni’s particular world-class expertise focuses on dealing with challenging sewer system designs as well as resolving complex commercial and residential draining issues. As a certified Flood Mitigation expert, he is also well versed in a wide variety of water damage and remediation solution.