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Why Rust-Colored Water Is Coming from Your Water Heater

A home’s tap water can exhibit various odors and colors due to a number of different issues with the water supply or the plumbing system. Rust-colored water coming from your hot water heater can occur for several reasons, which need to be addressed to avoid health issues and plumbing problems. Grove Heating & Cooling explains the causes of rusty water coming from a water heater and what can be done to return your water color to normal.

1. Bacterial Growth

If you have rust-colored water, the hue may be caused by bacteria growth somewhere in your plumbing system. While the problem may not originate from your water heater, it may appear that it does because you notice hot water takes on this color – however, both hot and cold water can be rusty when bacteria are present. Types of iron-reducing bacteria are known to create rust-colored water, which is very unappealing to homeowners and anyone who uses a tap in the house. This type of bacterial growth is most common in water supply pipes as well as the water heater tank.

If a plumber determines your water heater rust-colored water is caused by bacteria growing in your plumbing system, the way to get rid of it is by shocking the system. This can be done by adding chlorine to the system. Many homeowners with well water add chlorine bleach to the water well to chlorinate the water supply system. After a wait of 6 to 12 hours, the system should be flushed – open all taps throughout the house and allow water to run until the notable chlorine smell dissipates from your water.

2. Water Heater Tank Corrosion

Whenever rust-colored water is noticed in a tank water heater system, corrosion is an immediate suspect. Over time, the metal of the tank can break down due to water conditions if the inner glass lining cracks and allows the outer metal to be exposed to water or if the sacrificial anode rod designed to prevent corrosion isn’t replaced at proper intervals. Even combustion gases can cause the metal to corrode in an older tank water heater.

If rusty or discolored water is isolated to only your hot water, you’ll know that it stems from an issue with your water heater. Unfortunately, when corrosion is present, the only real solution is to replace the unit with a new water heater. Ignoring a corroded hot water tank could lead to a major leak and water damage in your home.

3. Old Pipes

Water lines in some Maryland homes are made of cast iron, which can corrode. These rusty pipes may be present in your home if it was built before about the mid-1980s. In the best case scenario, cast iron water supply pipes will last 50 years, but that isn’t always the case.

A professional plumber will be able to determine the material your water pipes are made of as well as if you have water heater rust-colored hot water or if the hue is due to pipe corrosion rather than water heater tank corrosion. If your home has older cast iron pipes that are starting to break down and display rust in your water, the solution to fix this issue is to replace your home’s piping. This is an extensive job best trusted to a licensed Maryland plumber.

Water Heater Repairs and Plumbing Service in Maryland

If you have rust-colored water because of your water heater or rusty hot water that stems from another plumbing source, don’t wait to address this issue. Call Grove Heating & Cooling today and schedule water heater repair or plumbing service with our trusted plumbing team.

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