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Rusty Water: What It Means, What to Do About It


You come back from an extended vacation and turn on the faucet in the bathroom for the first time in weeks. You’ll expect the water to have a brownish-red tint to it, but it will soon fade as the sink gets back into action. But when you spot this ruddy color in the water at other times, it may mean you’ve got rust in the plumbing system. The water will give off a metallic odor as well.

Is this unhealthy?

With the exception of a condition called hemochromatosis, people who drink rust in water won’t suffer ill health effects. Rust is oxidized iron, which isn’t harmful. But this doesn’t mean you should tolerate having rust in your home’s water. It looks ugly, for one, and it also can cause staining to fixtures, surfaces, and your dishes.

The source of the rusty water—and the solutions

The big concern is not so much the rusty water itself as what is causing it. It might be a problem with the municipal water supply. If you find rusty water flowing from all the taps in the house, both hot and cold, that often means an outside source of contamination. Call the water company to inform them of the problem.

If the reddish water is only coming from the cold water line or the hot water lines, the problem is somewhere in the house’s plumbing. If the discoloration is coming from the hot water lines, your water heater is probably dying. When corrosion starts to gnaw away at a water heater, the system needs to be replaced. Call a professional plumber for this service right away.

Rusty water from the cold water lines doesn’t bring much better news: the trouble is likely the pipes that have corroded with age. This is common in older homes that have plumbing of steel or cast iron. We recommend contacting a professional plumber to see if you need to have repiping done to replace this material with copper and plastic.

When you need professional plumbing in Silver Spring, MD from a contractor with experience and training, call on us. We offer all the above work and more.

Mallick Plumbing & Heating Is the Service Contractor of Choice! We serve Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.