Is the colour and taste of the water from your tap suddenly different? Depending on the age of your pipes and water heater, or the age of the pipes of the public water supply, the cause could be rust.

Before calling the plumber, you can conduct a DIY test to determine whether it is rust, and what is the source of the problem.

Is It Rust?

Water that contains a substantial amount of rust will have a distinctive metallic odor and a reddish brown appearance. The water will also stain the porcelain of your fixtures and white linens with a brownish hue. According to the University of California, rust in your water does not pose a health risk, unless you have a rare disorder called hemochromatosis, which allows the body to accumulate excessive iron levels.


Test to Determine the Source

A DIY test to determine the source of the rust requires you to sample water from both taps of the fixture, where you first noticed the rust.

First, fill a glass with cold water from the affected fixture. Note the colour and smell of this glass of water, before letting the cold tap run for a few seconds and then filling another glass of water, and taking note of the colour and smell of the new sample. Once completed, repeat the process with the hot tap.

If the rusty water is only present in the hot water supply, or if the presence of rust disappears when the water is left to run for a few seconds, are both big indicators that the rust source is in your home. However, if continuous rusty water comes from both taps, you should call your local water authority immediately to report the problem, as it is most likely from old and corroding pipes that make up the neighbourhood’s underground water supply network.

If the rust source is in your home, information from this test will also help you narrow down the source to your pipes or your water heater. If rusty water came from the cold water tap, you most probably have a corroding pipe in your plumbing system. If the rusty water only came from the hot water tap, it means your water heater is rusting.

How to Fix Rust

No matter the cause, it is best to report the issue to either the local water authorities, if the rust source is in the public water supply, or a plumber if the source is in your home plumbing. Ultimately, in your home plumbing, the best fix is to replace the corroding pipe or water heater. When you replace a corroding pipe, it saves you from future plumbing issues, as corroding pipes can break down and cause leaks, or the rust can cause a build up in the pipe and cut off the water supply.

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