How To Get Rid Of Rusty Tap Water?

Imagine this….you just wake up and you’re about to brush your teeth. You stick your brush under the faucet and turn on the water, only to see cloudy reddish-brown water splashing all around. While rusty water isn’t necessarily harmful, no one wants to drink or use water that isn’t clear. So you may be wondering, what is causing my water to appear this way and how do I clear it up? One of the leading causes is corrosion that exists in your pipes. If you find yourself seeing discoloration when you turn on your water, we’ll explain what you can do about it and how you can determine the root cause.

iron, one of the elements that makes water look rusty

What Causes Brown Water?

When water flowing through your faucets looks rusty brown, yellowish, or reddish it is indicating an excess of sediment or minerals within the pipes supplying the water.

Iron and manganese are the most common discoloring minerals that can get into your water stream. These minerals can also be responsible for any unpleasant taste or smell in your water.

"Danger: Water may be contaminated" sign

Is Rusty Water Dangerous?

It depends on the concentration of minerals in your water, but probably not. The EPA regulates the treatment of drinking water contaminants to primary and secondary standards. They ensure dangerous contaminants like lead and arsenic are taken under the primary regulations. If these contaminants exceed a maximum level in a water supply, it (usually) isn’t put through to the public.

The secondary EPA regulations include contaminants like iron and manganese. They aren’t dangerous to your health, but taste, smell, or look bad and can stain clothing or cause skin rashes. Public water agencies need to test for primary contaminants on a regular basis. However, testing for secondary contaminants is usually voluntary. Rusty water might be gross and inconvenient, but it’s not actually dangerous to drink or bathe in.

Rusty pipes

Why Is My Water Brown?

Any of the following symptoms can cause brown water to come out of your faucets in your home. You can diagnose your what may be the reason by using these three common scenarios:

If your hot and cold water suddenly goes brown in all your faucets:

This may be the result of a nearby break in a city-operated water main or fire hydrant. Much of America’s plumbing infrastructure is out of shape. And water main breaks that release sediment into the water supply happen frequently.

Your water heater or water supply pipes may also be rusty or corroded, and the effects are now becoming visible. It may be a good idea to book a plumbing professional to assess this for you.

If only your hot water loses color:

This usually means sediment or rust has built up in your water heater’s tank and needs maintenance.

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

This usually means this particular water supply pipe has corrosion and you need to replace it.

fixing rusty pipes

What Is The Best Fix?

Depending on which situation you have above that has caused you to see rusty water discoloration from your faucets, here’s how you can go about fixing each issue.

If all your hot and cold water suddenly goes brown:

Call your water supply company to see if they are conducting maintenance and they inadvertently stirred up some sediment. They’ll be able to tell you if maintenance has been performed and when your water will clear up again.

Once you’ve been informed that utility work is done, you can run your faucets for a few minutes, until you no longer see reddish water coming out.

If no maintenance was being performed by your local water company, it’s best to book a plumbing professional to assess your home’s pipes and ensure you don’t have serious corrosion that has built up and requires replacement.

If your hot water is discolored:

You can try draining and flushing your water heater’s tank to remove the sediment that has built up, causing the rusty hot water to appear. It’s a good idea to drain and flush your hot water heater tank twice a year, because sediment buildup, isn’t just bad for your water; it’s one of the most common causes of water heater leaks.

If you flush your tank or have a newer water heater and you find your hot water is still off-colored, you may have a more significant problem and you’ll need to book a professional plumber to diagnose the issue. Too much sediment buildup can permanently damage your water heater.

If your cold water is discolored when it comes out of a few faucets:

Open the affected faucets and let the water run out at full pressure for several minutes or until the water clears completely. Small amounts of rust can come loose from the inner walls of your pipes and enter the water supply.

If the water still looks rusty after running out of your faucets for a few minutes, or if the problem returns shortly after you flush the rust, this may mean your pipes have corroded, allowing the minerals to leach into your water constantly, with brown water constantly coming from your cold water supply line into your faucet.

Corroded piping can lead to clogs and possible leaks or breaks in your water line, creating much larger damage behind walls and forcing you to relocate in more extreme cases. Therefore, it’s best to have your pipes replaced as soon as possible to avoid any major issues in the long run.

Get Rid of Brown Rusty Water in Your Home

If you’ve tried everything and are still seeing rusty water coming from your faucets or clouding your toilets, it’s best to book a plumber and let them diagnose the issue for you and your family.

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