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Rusty Water What to Do if Your Tap Has it

You’re about to brush your teeth but when you turn the water on a stream of brown, cloudy mush drizzles out. Yuck! Rust-colored water isn’t normally harmful, but it can be disturbing. If you have water coming out brown from your faucet, it could be due to corroded pipes, mineral build-up or utility company operations.

Seeing rusty water pour from your home’s tap can be a traumatizing experience, especially if you don’t know why it’s happening. That’s why we put together this primer to explain why your water is rusty looking and how to fix rusty water in your home’s plumbing system. If the reason for your home water discoloration is rusty pipes, we’ll explain what you can do about it. We want all Inland Empire residents to have clean, safe drinking water in their homes.

Why Is My Water Rusty?

Tap water looks rusty brown, yellowish, or reddish when it contains an excess of sediment or minerals.

The most common discoloring minerals present in water are iron and manganese. Tiny metallic deposits of these minerals can get into the water stream via several different sources – natural or manmade. These minerals can also be responsible for any unpleasant tastes or smell your water might have.

While these minerals aren’t harmful to humans, manganese, and iron in water may mean that your tap water smells bad or tastes funny. A plumber can test the water quality in your home to make sure nothing else is going on.

Is Rusty Water Dangerous?

It depends on the particular minerals in your water, but probably not. The EPA regulates the treatment of drinking water contaminants according to primary and secondary standards. Dangerous contaminants like lead and arsenic are covered by the primary regulations. If these contaminants exceed a maximum contaminant level in a water supply, that water (usually) isn’t supplied to the public.

The secondary EPA regulations cover contaminants like iron and manganese. These contaminants aren’t dangerous to health but taste, smell, or look bad and could stain clothing or cause skin rashes. Public water systems are compelled to test for primary contaminants on a regular basis but testing for secondary contaminants is unfortunately voluntary.

Is Rusty Water Safe to Bathe In?

This is a popular question, along with, is rusty water bad for your hair? While drinking or bathing in high mineral water won’t hurt you, it’s not great for your hair. Additionally, hard water can make it difficult for soap to lather properly on your skin and you may find yourself working harder to get clean.

What Causes Rusty Water from Your Faucet?

Any of the following three scenarios could be the cause of brown water from your faucet:

1. If all your water (hot and cold) suddenly goes brown:

A sudden change from clear to rusty water could be the result of nearby utility maintenance or a break in a city-operated water main or fire hydrant. Much of America’s plumbing infrastructure is outdated, so water main breaks that release sediment into the water supply happen frequently.

When utility companies perform line maintenance, they shut off the water for short periods. When the water gets turned back on, it may contain some accumulated sediment up front. Run your faucet for a few minutes to clear the problem.

There are also possible internal reasons for the change. Your water heater or your water supply pipes have become rusty or corroded, and that brown water from your tap is the beginning sign of those changes.

2. If only your hot water is discolored:

Sediment or rust may have built up in your water heater’s tank. Your plumber can trace the reason for this.

3. If you get brown water from your cold tap and only certain faucets:

The problem is probably with a particular water supply pipe. Home plumbing clogs and corrodes over time, especially if your water has high mineral content.

How To Fix Brown Water From Faucets

Now that you have an idea of what caused your rusty water discoloration in the first place, you know where to start:

If all your hot and cold water suddenly goes brown:

Call Hotwaterheaterfactory. Chances are, something happened to a water main or a nearby fire hydrant. It’s also possible that the city is conducting maintenance on the pipe system, and they inadvertently stirred up some sediment. They should be able to tell you when your water will clear up again and what they’re doing to fix the problem.

Once the utility work is done, run your taps for a few minutes until you no longer see orange water coming out of your faucets. Brown water in toilets should disappear after a couple of flushes refresh the water supply.

If all your hot water is discolored:

Try draining and flushing your water heater’s tank. Rusty hot water is often the result of sediment that’s built up over time. It’s a good idea to drain and flush your tank twice a year either way. Sediment buildup isn’t just bad for your water; it’s one of the most common causes of water heater leaks.

Also, check to see that your anode rod hasn’t dissolved. This rod attracts corrosive minerals in water away from your water heater tank to extend its life. After 5 years or so, your anode rod will dissolve away and your local plumber can replace it for you.

If you flush the tank or have a newer water heater and your hot water is still off-colored, you may have a more significant problem. Call a professional plumber to diagnose the issue. Too much sediment buildup could permanently damage your water heater, or (in rare and extreme circumstances) cause it to explode!us


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