Dirty brown water running into a white sink. Looks very unhealthy,

Did you recently turn on your kitchen sink or shower only to find your water isn’t completely clear? Seeing colored water is unsettling, and can be caused by a variety of problems. Fortunately, rusty, orange-colored water is mostly an aesthetic issue that doesn’t pose health risks. Still, water discoloration could be a sign of worse things.

The first step to fixing the problem of off-colored water is to identify where and how widespread the discoloration is. Below are possible issues contributing to your water problem and remedies:

Possible Causes of Water Discoloration

Water Pipes

If you notice a stream of red, brown or orange water, this usually indicates the presence of iron or manganese, meaning your old cast iron pipes are likely rusted.

Old, corroded pipes are often the cause of discolored tap and bathwater. Even copper pipes can corrode, leaching into your water supply and giving it an orange hue.

The zinc coating of galvanized pipes deteriorates over time, exposing the interior steel pipes to rust and discoloring your tap water. High water pressure can break away rust particles from galvanized pipes to enter your home’s plumbing system. 

Incorrectly Installed  Pipes or Corroding Joints

Poorly installed pipes can cause various plumbing problems—including rusty, orange-colored water. A misaligned fitting can corrode and create tiny openings around the pipe joints. Further, older pipes may have lead solder joints. If they corrode or any portion of your lines contains lead, you no longer have a cosmetic issue but a health and safety problem. You’ll want to have a certified plumber inspect your lines as soon as possible.

Corroded Faucet or Fixture

Have you noticed rusty water only from one tap or fixture? That’s a sign of corroded faucets and fixtures that need to be replaced. Fortunately, a professional plumber can repair a fixture without much fuss. 

An Aging Water Heater

If your water looks brown, yellow, or orange, the cause could be sediment in your water heater. Water entering the storage tank contains sand and minerals that gradually build up in the tank. Eventually, the buildup reaches the point where it breaks loose and flows out to your taps.

Copper or iron pipes that connect the water heater and the faucet can also contribute to discoloration.

The tank itself may have rusted, or the dip tube that injects cold water into the hot tank may be damaged, causing it to mix water with mineral deposits already there.

Water heaters last on average 8 to 12 years. If your hot water is discolored and the cold water appears fine, your older water heater may be on its last legs. Take a close look at the appliance. If you find signs of rust on the exterior of the tank, it’s probably corroding on the inside too. 

Even a newer heater may need maintenance or replacement parts. You should flush the water heater’s tank every 6 to 12 months, especially if you have hard water in your area. Flushing a water heater involves opening the drain valve, letting all the water in the tank drain out, then refilling the tank.

As hard water can accelerate the rusting process, it’s a good idea to test your water hardness. You can buy a home water-hardness kit at most hardware stores.

You Don’t Have to Live with Discolored Water

Just because discolored water may not be bad for you doesn’t mean you have to live with it. 

Orange, rusty water can stain fixtures like your sink or bathtub, discolor clothes in the washing machine, and adversely affect the taste of food. Worse, it might indicate a more serious plumbing problem that needs immediate repair, like a badly decaying pipe on the verge of bursting. Contact your trusted plumber for help.

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Flader Plumbing and Heating is uniquely suited to assist you in determining the solution that best fits your home and family’s needs. We’ve been serving your neighbors and our community for over 100 years and 4 generations. 

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Flader Plumbing and Heating recommends equipment, models, and brands proven to have the fewest problems and service calls. We specialize in:

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Whether you need a new water heater, heating system, or have a newly discovered leak,, we are knowledgeable and experts in delivering the services you need. Our professional technicians arrive on time, listen to your concerns, and answer your questions. They will recommend the right solution and deliver as promised.

Flader technicians average 15 years of experience and are EPA certified.

Expert service, quality parts, and satisfaction guaranteed. That’s the combination you deserve.

Don’t compromise. Call us at 847-491-6980. 

Doug Flader

Doug Flader, a fourth-generation leader at Flader Plumbing & Heating Co., upholds the company's long-standing tradition of excellence. While continuing to provide top-quality plumbing and heating services to Libertyville, Mundelein, and Vernon Hills, Doug proudly takes care of his community by supporting local youth programs around the Chicagoland area.

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