What it Means When You Have Discolored Hot WaterIt’s a cause for concern when discolored hot water starts flowing from a faucet in your home. Discoloration can occur for several reasons, and learning how to decipher what it means can help you determine when it’s time to call a professional plumber.

  • Municipal supply disturbances — Periodic discoloration can occur when fine rust and sediment particles in the water mains get stirred up by a break or repairs, or during routine maintenance like hydrant flushing. These disturbances usually settle down after a few hours, then you can open all the faucets and let them run for several minutes to get rid of any remaining discoloration.
  • Anaerobic bacteria in the water heater — If your hot water takes on a brownish hue and develops a rotten-egg smell, anaerobic bacteria may be thriving in the tank. This non-toxic and relatively harmless bacteria is found in the soil, in water wells and municipal water systems. It can flourish when a water heater with a magnesium anode rod is shut off for any length of time. To keep water discoloration and odor under control, have a plumber flush the water heater tank and install an aluminum-zinc anode rod.
  • Tank deterioration — When your hot water looks rusty or brown in color but the cold water flow is clear, corrosion inside the water heater is the mostly likely culprit. If the heater is around 10 years old, and rust is developing on the outside of the tank, the inside is probably deteriorating as well. A badly corroded tank can fail unexpectedly, so it’s time to consider replacing it.
  • Water pipe corrosion — If you have galvanized steel piping in your home and both the cold and hot water faucets are producing rust-colored water, the water lines may need replacement. Galvanized pipes can appear fine on the outside because they’re coated with zinc, but the water discoloration you’re experiencing is a telltale sign that they’re in a serious state of decay on the inside.

If discolored hot water is a concern in your Indianapolis home and you need expert help, contact the pros at Mowery Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Brownsburg, Indiana and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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