Rust and Your Water Heater: What You Need to Know About This Plumbing Problem

If you notice rusty water flowing through your pipes, you need to figure out what is causing the problem and repair it quickly. In some cases, rust may be coming from the pipes. In others, it may be coming from the hot water heater. Here is everything you need to know about rust and your hot water heater. 

How Do You Know if Rust Is Coming From the Hot Water Heater?

If you notice rust-colored water flowing through your sink, the first thing you want to do is determine where it may be coming from.

Turn off the water that you are using and allow it to sit off for a minute or two. Then turn on the sink or shower where you first noticed the rusty water, only running cold water. If the cold water is rustcolored, the problem is with a pipe. The most common reason for this is a rusty water pipe. The pipe will need to be identified and replaced. Rust can eat through pipes, so replace it quickly before you end up with a water leak as well.

If there was not rust in the cold water, shut the water off, and this time, turn only the hot water on. If rust is present when the hot water is run, it may be a pipe or the water heater. Go to a different sink, shower or bathtub, preferably as far away from the first as possible, and turn on the hot water. If the water is rust colored when running water in two different locations, odds are, the rust is coming from your hot water heater. If it is not rust colored in both, it is likely a pipe.

Why Would Rust Be Coming From the Hot Water Heater?

Hot water heaters have an anode rod inside of them. This rod is designed to draw in corrosion and rust in the water, helping to protect the tank itself from rust. But, as it sits in the tank, it can break down and begin to rust or corrode. When this happens, you wind up with rust in your heated water. This is more a problem that is fairly common with older hot water heaters.

The second reason why rust would be coming from inside the hot water heater is because the tank itself is rusted. If your anode rod has not done its job, rust may develop inside of a tank. If you have routine hot water tank maintenance done, this problem is usually caught before the rust begins to transfer to your water. But if the rust spread quickly or your unit is not maintained, you may see rust in your water.

How Can Rust From a Hot Water Heater Be Repaired?

If there is rust coming from a hot water heater, a plumber will need to determine whether the anode rod is causing the rust or whether your tank is rusty. A simple peek inside of the unit will answer this question.

If the anode rod is rusted, it can typically be replaced, as long as your unit is still in relatively good condition. Once replaced, the hot water heater will need to be flushed to remove the rusty water. But if there is any rust present on the tank, the entire unit will need to be replaced.

If you notice that your water has a red or brownish tint to it and a metallic scent, this is rust in your water. Rust should never be present, so it if is, something is wrong with your pipes or your hot water heater. Cleary Plumbing can help to diagnose the problem, repair rusted pipes or fix or repair your water heater. Call us today to schedule an appointment.