Rusty Water? Rusty Pipes? Locate the problem

Rusty Water? Rusty Pipes? Locate the problem

Most homes are supplied with water in one of two ways... You may be connected to mains water, where you pay Yarra Valley Water (or equivalent) a fee for supplying you with water year-round. Or like many residents in the Eastern Suburbs and right across Victoria, you may have water tanks that store your water and pumps that bring it to your house when you turn on the tap. Both have one thing in common and that is a lot of pipework! We expect the water coming from your taps to be clean and clear. However, what happens when the color and taste of your water is suddenly a little off? The cause could be rust and depending on the age of your pipes and water heater, it could be coming from inside your house.

There’s a chance rusty water could stem from your public water supply, especially if you live in an older city that hasn’t refurbished its water system in many decades. But in our area it’s generally internal, and you can investigate a little before you call your local plumber.

Is It Rust?

Rusty water will have a distinctive metallic odor and a reddish-brown appearance. This can be determined without an expensive test. The rust particles themselves are oxidized iron, and they don’t seem to pose a health hazard, they can leave unsightly stains in your porcelain and white linens and one would not recommend the long-term ingestion of Rusty water.

Find the source?

The first question is whether the rusty water is originating within your home plumbing or not. To investigate, go to the fixture where you first noticed the rusty water and fill a glass with cold water only. Check the sample for rusty odors or coloring, then let the cold water flow for several seconds before checking another sample. Next, repeat with the hot water. If the rusty water is only present in the hot water supply or if it goes away after several seconds of running water, those are both strong indications that the rust source is in your home.

Your DIY test should help you further narrow down the source if you find that it’s coming from within your home. If rusty water came from the cold water tap, that indicates a corroding pipe or pipes in your home plumbing system. If it’s coming only from the hot water tap, that means your water heater is may be rusting out.

What Next?

The fix comes down to one word: replacement. If an old section of the public water system is rusting out, it’s the public authority’s responsibility to replace those failing pipes. If an old section of the pipes in your home have rusted out, a qualified plumber can conduct a thorough investigation to identify the rusty pipes and craft a plan to replace them.

If the source is your hot water heater, replacement is also necessary. Once corrosion begins, it will usually progress until the integrity of the tank fails completely. However, there is one thing you can do to avoid your new water heater rusting out: have a plumber replace the anode rod every few years.

An anode rod is a long, metal rod that extends into your water heater tank. Its purpose is to attract corrosive particles so they attack the rod and spare the water heater. But the rod itself is eaten away in this process, and when it’s whittled down to its core, there’s nothing stopping those particles from moving on to attack the tank. The lifespan of an anode rod is typically five years, or shorter if you have a soft water (typical of many homes on tank water in the Yarra Valley and Eastern Suburbs).

Want to have your hot water heater serviced and protected to ensure its longevity? Or do you already need help investigating the source of your rusty water? Call your local plumber at Alpine Plumbing and Gasfitting today.