Rust is the known as iron oxide or the chemical Fe2O3 and consists of the coating formed on iron or steel which, flakes in the presence of moisture. Rusty tap water can appear in a yellow, orange, red or even a brown colour, depending on the levels of rust present.
It can originate anywhere from the water main pipes to your own residential plumbing system and over time, builds up to cause problems such as pipe blockages and can produce a noticeable metallic taste in water. Although the presence of rust in your water is not a health concern, it can create a disorder in your day to day activities and cause problems with washing machines and dishwashers, leaving stains.
Yellow: A combination of iron and oxygen in your water may lead to a slight yellow colourisation in water, which is an indication of small amounts of rust.
Orange, red and brown: Larger combinations of iron and oxygen in water can cause water to appear orange, red, brown or a combination of the three. Brown water can also appear when elements from sulphur dioxide and hot water mix together in pipes.
The cause of rust in your drinking water can make its way into your water through several ways. The most common include:
Depending on the type and extent of rust, there are several approaches to removing it from your water and eventually, your pipes. A certified plumber should be able to easily identify the source of your problem or alternatively, you can take the following steps to quickly and easily eliminate the rust in your water.
As the presence of rust is a sign of corroding pipes, which can eventually lead to a leak and high maintenance costs, it is important to first distinguish whether the rust has originated in the water mains or your residential plumbing.
To do this, run an outside tap to fill a clean cup or bucket and look for any signs of rust. If there are rust particles in the water or the water is discoloured, it is likely that the problem has originated from the water mains, which beyond your residential plumbing. However, if the water is clear, your residential plumbing may need to be flushed, treated, repaired or replaced. Inside your home, if the rust appears when you run hot water taps or clears after a short period, it is advisable to contact a certified plumber or water expert to find out about water filter devices and request further investigation.
It is important to note, water pipes with an excessive amount of rust can choke, resulting in poorer water pressure. Replace your old pipes with new copper or plastic pipes.
A sudden influx of rusty water can suggest a pipe in the water mains requires attention, a disturbance has changed water flow or a fire hydrant is in use. It is likely that you will be required to not use the water until the problem has been cleared. Should the problem persist after 24-hours, contact your water supplier.