When you're dealing with rust in your tap water, there is a chance that the problem requires a multi-task approach. Some of the most common reasons for rusty water are old pipes, or a broken water heater. Rusty pipes are especially common in old houses, and plumbing networks that are over 40 years old. If you're dealing with rust in your water, check the quality of your pipes.
You may be getting rusty water if you're dealing with old pipes. If we're talking about galvanized pipes, for instance, mineral (hard) water wears down the pipes over time, resulting in disintegration of the pipe structure, and mineral build-up in the internal walls. Find out how old your pipes may be, and do a visual check of the pipes. You can replace galvanized pipes with PVC or copper. If you need to replace your galvanized pipes, refer to my previous articles on replacing old galvanized pipes in your home. But if you have no galvanized pipes, or if your pipes are in decent shape, you may need to trace your steps to the heater.
The issue could lie with your water heater. If your heater is over 10 years old, there is a chance that rust will begin leaking into the water supply. The inside bladders of the tank will begin to leak, which leads to rust getting into your water. You have two options. You can either replace the entire tank or fix elements of the old heater. If you notice any rust at the bottom of the heater, this could stem from a gasket leak. Connected to the gasket is an O-ring plug. If water is leaking, you're going to get rust. If you find that the plug is rusted, turn off the water heater, drain the system and replace the ring and gasket. You can do other things like checking the quality of the water heater drain, along with the inside valves and rings.
When it comes to deciding between replacing the entire heater or fixing elements of the old one, add up the costs to decide which option would be the cheaper path. Most water heaters only have a lifespan of 8 to 12 years, so it may be a good idea to buy a new system altogether.
If your water is on a boiling system, check the intake valves as well. These valves can leak water, and any remaining water that leaks can get into your water supply. This may be the main cause, and the network usually flushes out all of the rusted water from your pipes within a few days. Aside from a boiler system, you could be prone to high a rust content, if you are on a well system.
Well water can be prone to rust, since the iron in the water oxidizes when exposed to the air, resulting in rust. A high iron content could be the issue, or it could a problem with the well's aquifer. There are a variety of filters you can buy on the market, including a water softener or iron filter. These filters will filter out any residue or iron as the water comes into your home.