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Thread: How can I get rid of brown/rusty water??

  1. #1

    Question How can I get rid of brown/rusty water??

    I recently bought an 85 yr old house and the hot water would turn brown/rusty after it ran for a while. I replaced the 17yr old hot water heater about 3 months ago, and the hot water was clear for a while and I thought I solved my problem, but now I see it turning brown again as it gets to the end of the hot water. And it's not just slightly tinged - if I let it run long enough, my bathtub fills up with water that looks like iced tea!! The cold water is fine and crystal clear. What could be causing this? Thank you.

  2. #2
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    My guess is you have old galvanized pipes and they are rusted. If that is the case, the only cure is to replumb the house with copper or PEX. It's a costly fix, but there's not cheap and easy fix. The rust in the water will not harm you, so you need not be concerned about that.

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    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Are you on a well?

  4. #4

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    Nope, not using well. And I went all through the basement and crawlspaces and there is no galvanized pipe, at least for the pipes I can see (which is just about all of them). I know there are none in the first floor of the house because I already replaced all that pipe in the last few months, too. But here's what I noticed - on the floor near the boiler where some water was drained there is all this rusty sediment on the floor. There's a feed to the boiler from the water tank - could rusty stuff from the boiler somewhow be flowing back into the water tank? I shut off the feed to the boiler for the last 2 days and after initially flushing out the water heater, I haven't seen any more brown/rusty water out of any of my faucets yet. Could this be the culprit?

  5. #5
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    Sure sounds like it. I'm not a boiler person, so I can even guess wheather this is a valid theory or not, but there are several guys around that are pretty sauve about boilers and will be able to give you an educated opinion.

  6. #6

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    I'm not a boiler person either... but I'd bet you need to install a check valve to keep the boiler from backing water into the water supply. I'm sure the system has an expansion tank... right?

  7. #7
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    If the rust is coming from the boiler, you have a serious health issue. The water in a boiler is normally stagnent. The saving grace is that it is regularly heated enough to probably kill most things except potentially in the summer when it is off, but it could have a lot of heavy metals disolved in it.

    There should be a backflow preventer on the boiler makeup water inlet. If you have one, it is kaput. If you don't have one, install one!
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  8. #8

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    I came across this today and wanted to comment. I had a similar problem in the apartment complex. The tenants complained to the management and super (me) of brown water. Some days it would be ok and some days you'd see brown water. We found success in using the Wellan2000 product in 2006 It's some time to collar that goes on your main. We now have it on the main as well as the boiler in the building. The water was clear within 3 weeks of the installation. Hope this helps.

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