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Thread: Rusty Water in Bathroom Tub Only

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    DIY Junior Member fsunole01's Avatar
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    Default Rusty Water in Bathroom Tub Only

    Sorry for the long detail, but:

    We moved into new construction about 8 months ago and we've been remodeling our bathroom...
    At first, we rarely used the tub but did notice that for the first second or two (at most), it would run rusty (hot or cold). The builder told us that it was due to lack of use and would go away in time. So here we are 8 months later and it is still occurring, even with everyday use. If we go longer that 18 hours without turning on the water (hot or cold), it runs rusty for the first second or two.

    So here's the deal: We've replaced the original faucet with a Moen Method, same problem occurred. After evaluation by builder, said to replace the fixture (that would make it a third replacement since the original). So we did, still same problem. Yesterday they replaced the entire rough-in...still same problem. I've had 3 plumbers at my house scratching their heads, with no clue on what to do next. The line is plastic (pex?) and brass...No galvanized steel anywhere.

    I've read in palces that it's possible that a screw got into the line somewhere, but logic tells me that somehow the water that is left in the fixture once turned off is what's rusting...now what could cause that? Everything in that area has been replaced, including the spout - several times. Everything is new. The fact that it's both lines, tells me the odds of a screw at the right place on both sides, is pretty close to impossible. But to test that anyways we removed the lines from the fixture, waited 24 hours and then ran them straight --they ran clear! So somewhere, somehow rust is getting into the mix in a place that is all plastic and brass.
    Any ideas? Suggestions? on what can be causing this?
    Last edited by fsunole01; 03-10-2011 at 01:53 PM.

  2. #2
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    For years I worked at large plumbing companies that routinely used galvanized nipples and 90's for the tub spout, with the rest of the home being plumbed in copper. For the first second or two, you would get a little rust.
    The pipes lasted forever it seemed, but for that second or two, a little rust.
    Many homes in up until the 70's were plumbed entirely in galvanized. It was one way to get enough iron in the diet.
    You can buy those homes, and they get rust from every fixture. If you grow up in an older part of the city, those people just think it's normal to see a little color that goes quickly down the drain.
    So..........what else is happening in your life. Heard any good jokes lately? Is everybody healthy?

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    DIY Junior Member fsunole01's Avatar
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    Thanks Terry - So, are you saying it's nothing to worry about? The plumbers expressions didn't seem that way...saying "that's really bad" "wish I knew what it was" The house is brand new, built in 2010...there aren't any galvanized nipples either...which is why they are all so baffled.

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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    I wouldn't worry.
    If it is a rusting screw, it won't last long.

    I had a heating contractor put sawdust in my copper lines one time; That "was" bad.
    That was payback for not letting him take my triple tap extension cord to work with. He didn't get that it was my cord and that I had work to do also.
    Normally workers carry their own tools and don't have to beg.

    But yes, I don't think it's an issue.

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    DIY Junior Member fsunole01's Avatar
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    Thanks again! Could it be anything more serious though? It seems to be getting worse over time, not better. At first, it was just a yellowish bit of water...now it's full on brown...

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Have you removed the tub spout? Take a look at the pipe it is attached to.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    DIY Junior Member fsunole01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua View Post
    Have you removed the tub spout? Take a look at the pipe it is attached to.
    Yes, we replaced the spout 3 times and the rough-in. The line is pex. the cartidge is plastic, the fittings are brass.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    You are describing a system with a steel "something, somewhere", but without doing our own testing we cannot tell you what or where. The fact that it almost immediate and both hot and cold almost insures that it is in the "mixing" part of the valve. The "bad" thing about it is that when it stops rusting, that will mean it is worn out and is going to break off or leak.

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    DIY Junior Member fsunole01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    You are describing a system with a steel "something, somewhere", but without doing our own testing we cannot tell you what or where. The fact that it almost immediate and both hot and cold almost insures that it is in the "mixing" part of the valve. The "bad" thing about it is that when it stops rusting, that will mean it is worn out and is going to break off or leak.
    Thanks HJ - Our mixing cartridge is plastic...the rough-in was replaced...what else can they replace/look into?

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    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    It seems you would see it somewhere else, but maybe you have iron in the water supply.
    You could have the water tested to confirm that it is iron or perhaps something else.

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    DIY Junior Member fsunole01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cacher_chick View Post
    It seems you would see it somewhere else, but maybe you have iron in the water supply.
    You could have the water tested to confirm that it is iron or perhaps something else.
    Thanks cacher - we haven't seen the rusty water anywhere else in the house and it is something we've noticed since day one of moving in (new construction) just in the master bath tub. Moen is standing by their product and have sent me 2 replacements already, not including the original commercial one that was there at move-in.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Off hand, I cannot tell you what is happening or where, and would have to be there to do some analysis, but what you have is NOT a normal situation, so nothing we have encountered so far fits your description.

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    DIY Junior Member fsunole01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    Off hand, I cannot tell you what is happening or where, and would have to be there to do some analysis, but what you have is NOT a normal situation, so nothing we have encountered so far fits your description.
    Thanks again HJ! Yeah, 3 plumbers all scratching their heads. Replaced everything they can think of that would impact it, based on location (same line from guest bath - no issues). Replaced spout, mixing cartridge and rough-in...everyone seems puzzled and not sure what to even do next, aside from ripping open the walls and replacing all the lines. But to replace the lines, seems to make the least sense, since it it only impacts the tub and is immediate when you turn on the water - seems that it has to be somewhat local - and even more-so that it's within the spout since it takes 12-24 hours before you notice the rust...to me that means that the water that is left in the spout once turned off is what is somehow getting tainted, but by what? no one seems to know.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Could someone have used a galvanized or black iron drop ear el verses a brass or bronze one?
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    DIY Junior Member fsunole01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua View Post
    Could someone have used a galvanized or black iron drop ear el verses a brass or bronze one?
    I have plumber number 4 coming Thursday morning - We'll see. Load me up with things to look at while hes there please? Thanks!

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