anytime plumbing
16 Jan

The Reasons You Have Rusty Water (Plus Some Fixes Your Plumber May Recommend)

Is your tap water orange, or do you sometimes find orange water in toilet? These are signs of rust contamination. Although the issue may sound serious, that’s not the case. Most often, rusty water from faucet isn’t a cause for concern.

Still, action is needed, especially if there are other contaminants present. That’s why it’s important to determine the origin of the rusty water. In this article, we tell you how to do just that and provide some easy fixes as advised by professional plumbers.

Reasons for Rusty Water

Many people wonder, “why is my water orange?” without knowing that rust is the culprit. But what is rust in the first place?

Water rust originates from particles of oxidized iron. Rust is formed when iron comes into contact with oxygen in water and air.

Note that iron is a common natural element that exists in all types of soil and rocks. Therefore, rust can make it to the water where sources have high iron levels.

There are several ways for rust to get into tap water.

Rust Colored Water Coming Out of Faucet – Explanations

A tangy or metallic water taste is often the first possible sign of rusty water from faucet. If the off taste is accompanied by a rusty visual appearance, it’s almost certain that your water is contaminated with rust. Typically, contaminated water has a reddish-brown tint.

If you aren’t sure whether your water is rusty, you can do an easy test. Check the ceramic or porcelain sinks and look for traces of discoloration. A rusty pipe is likely to stain a white surface.

Here are the three main signs of rust in water:

  • Water discoloration
  • Plumbing fixture stains
  • Strange water taste

Once you’re certain there is rust in the water, it’s important to determine the origin of the problem. The rust can either come from the municipal water supply or the plumbing system in your home.

Rust From Home Plumbing System

Rusty water can originate from rust in pipes. Homes with an old plumbing system and galvanized pipes are more likely to develop this problem. Towns with an aging water infrastructure often experience the same thing.

The tricky part with home plumbing system rust is finding out where the rust comes from. As mentioned, it could be from the water in the home or the pipes closer to the source of the water.

There are several ways you can find out.

First, check whether the rust comes from your home’s plumbing system.

You can run the cold water tap and look for signs of rust. After you’re done, turn on the hot tap and do the same.

Water Is Orange in Both Hot and Cold Water Tap

In case both tests show rusty water, the issue probably comes from the city water supply.

Water Is Orange in Hot Water Tap

If you only experience rusty hot water, there’s most likely an issue with your hot water heater. When the old water heater corrodes, it can leave traces of rust in the water.

Water Is Orange in Cold Water Tap

Rust in only the cold water taps likely comes from your home’s rusty pipe water system.

However, for best diagnostics, it’s better to have a professional plumber inspect the problem. Having orange water coming out of faucet can be more than just a nuisance, and it isn’t something you need to go through on your own.

Rust From City Water Supply

Rust from the city water supply isn’t relevant for homeowners who source their water from property wells. But if you use a municipal source for water, like a reservoir or a lake reserve, you may experience occasional rust issues coming from the source.

Dirt and natural sediments tend to settle in water supply lines. This process is usually hard to notice. When something stirs the sediments, like firefighters who draw water from the supply line to power a hose or during higher water demand, it can turn the water yellow. When this happens, the sediment is naturally flushed from the supply line after a short period.

You’ll most likely experience issues with your city water supply if the water test above shows rust coming from both the cold and hot water taps. In this case, you should contact government officials to report the problem as soon as possible.

Is Water Rust Dangerous?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists iron as the secondary standard when it comes to water quality. This contaminant doesn’t present a health risk and only needs testing.

Rusty Water From Faucet – Health Concerns

Iron only changes the water’s physical appearance, so you don’t have to worry about getting sick from drinking it. Even if the concentrations are high and the water turns orange or brown, these particles aren’t harmful to humans.

Rusty Water in Tub – Health Concerns

If you find rusty water in tub, you may also wonder whether it’s safe to bathe in rusty water. There are no negative effects on the health of people who bathe in water with higher metal concentrations, including iron.

Even though rust has an off odor and isn’t pleasant for consumption, it’s not the main problem. The bigger issue is that rust is often an indicator of lead and other greater hazards. If you notice a rusty pipe, it doesn’t mean lead is responsible. But still, you should check for its presence with plumbers or city government officials.

Why Is Lead So Dangerous?

Lead can cause health risks like headaches, fatigue, and poisoning. It can also provoke digestive system problems and affect the liver and kidneys. It’s also possible for lead to cause severe mental and physical development issues in children. For adults, it can cause high blood pressure as well.

Health concerns are the main reason why you shouldn’t wait for long until diagnosing a pipe problem. Have the water tested to see whether it contains traces of lead.

Note that small levels of rust in water are completely normal from time to time. You can easily mitigate them by following the steps in the section below.

How to Fix Rusty Water

You should take action if you notice rusty tap water, regardless of the severity of the issue.

Here’s an overview of the steps you can take to ensure everyone’s safety in the home:

  • If the issue comes from the municipal supply, call the relevant government officials. Work with them to find a safe drinking water source until they solve your problem.
  • Contact a plumber as soon as possible if the issue is in your home’s plumbing system.
  • The plumber can diagnose the problem and determine whether you need to fix the water heater, the pipes, or both elements.
  • Keep checking on the problem, and don’t stop addressing it until you completely get rid of the rust.

How to Fix Rusty Tap Water

Here are some detailed recommendations and advice on fixing rusty tap water.

Test Your Water

The first step is to get an independent water testing lab to test your water. You can let them take a sample or send them one yourself. The results are usually returned in a few days and will reveal the severity of the problem. It’s also the safest way to find the most efficient solution for mitigating the issue.

Tip: Hire a testing lab that isn’t connected to your local municipal water system. This way, there won’t be any conflict of interest.

Get a Water Softener

It’s wise to install a water softener for homeowners who use a well as a water source. The rust can come from the well due to the higher number of natural minerals in the water. These minerals can change the color, taste, and smell of the water.

Too much iron makes the water look and taste rusty. A water softener has a dedicated salt filter that removes minerals like iron from the well water. You can have a filter installed by professionals in your area.

If Both Hot and Cold Water Turn Brown

When all water sources in your home are brown, you should call a local plumbing company. You may have an issue with a fire hydrant nearby or with the water main. Sometimes, when the city conducts maintenance on the pipe system, it can result in orange water too. This is usually the case when the maintenance staff stirs up sediment inadvertently.

In this case, wait for the utility work to be complete. Then, run the taps for a few minutes and all the rust colored water coming out of faucet will disappear.

If All Hot Water Is Rusty

Try to flush and drain the tank of the water heater completely. The rust may come from sediment buildup over a long period of time. Ideally, you should flush and drain your tank at least twice a year. Doing so will prevent the rust from building up and eventually causing other types of damage, like water heater leaks.

You also want to make sure that the anode rod isn’t dissolved. This element can attract corrosive minerals in water and prevent it from attaching to the water tank. It’s important to have a plumber replace a dissolved rod every five or so years to extend the lifespan of a water heater tank.

However, if you have already flushed the tank and have a new water heater, but the water is still discolored, there may be a more serious issue. Plumbers have the necessary skills and tools to diagnose the problem immediately.

If the sediments build up on the heater, they can severely damage its functionality and even cause it to explode in extreme circumstances.

When Only a Few Faucets Have Discolored Water

Does the water appear discolored only in some places? If you see rusty water in tub but not in the kitchen sink, it’s usually a minor issue that can be easily solved. You want to run the affected faucets at full pressure for a few minutes and wait for the water to clear completely.

Small amounts of rust can sometimes dislodge the pipe’s inner walls and make it into the water supply. For minor nuisances like this, the simple trick of running the water at full pressure will clear the rust from the water.

On occasion, rust or corroded pipes can benefit from a deep cleaning. An easy way to avoid further damage and potential leaks and clogs is to hire a professional plumber to clean the affected pipe. They will offer a diagnosis and recommend a replacement if needed.

If the abovementioned solution doesn’t help or the rust returns fast, the pipes in your plumbing system may be corroded. The only solution here is to replace the pipes because once the process starts, it can only get worse. You’ll still see brown water until you replace the pipes that suffer corrosion.

Removing Rust From Water – Things to Know

Note that there are different methods for removing rust particles from water. The method you’ll use depends on the cause of the rust. When the problem comes from the old plumbing infrastructure, most plumbers recommend replacing the old pipes with newer models.

The high concentration of iron that makes it into a water supply also causes the water to be rusty. This issue can be helped with the installation of a house water filtration system. The sophisticated systems can remove all rust and iron particles from the water. The cleaning takes place before the water enters the pipes in the home, so you’re guaranteed to have rust-free water.

Rusty Water Problem Solved

If you’ve been experiencing rust in water, you may be concerned about its origins and effects on your health. The good news is that rust colored water is an easily solvable issue most of the time. In some cases, when you’re dealing with old infrastructure, you may be required to replace the pipes. But most of the time, deep cleaning and flushing the water heater can solve the issue.

Homeowners still not sure about the origins of orange water from tap or other faucets can contact Anytime Plumbing for help. Give us a call or email us to assist you with rust in hot water, orange water in toilet,and other rust-related issues.

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Amer Zaghlouleh is the owner of Anytime Plumbing Inc., a trusted plumbing company serving Santa Cruz County. With a focus on delivering quality work and reliable service, Amer has established himself as a respected professional in the industry. He believes in providing honest and trustworthy plumbing solutions to every customer, ensuring their satisfaction and peace of mind. With years of experience and a commitment to staying updated with the latest technical advances, Amer and his team at Anytime Plumbing Inc. are fully equipped to handle any plumbing job with precision and efficiency. Trust in Amer's expertise and dedication for all your plumbing needs.