Discolored Hot Water: Here’s What it Means

Discolored Hot Water: Here’s What it MeansTurning on a faucet in your home and seeing a flow of discolored hot water can be worrisome. There are several possible reasons why water discoloration occurs, and knowing how to identify the cause can help you decide whether you need to call a professional plumber.

  • Disturbances in the municipal supply — You can experience occasional water discoloration when fine sediment in the mains gets stirred up by hydrant use, routine maintenance, breaks or construction/repairs. Disturbed sediment normally settles within a few hours, and you’ll know this is the culprit if the flow from the faucet clears up on its own. To get rid of any remaining sediment, open all your faucets and let them run for several minutes.
  • Mineral sediment in the water heater — When water is heated, naturally-occurring minerals like calcium and magnesium form into scale particles that collect in your water heater tank over time. A severe sediment buildup not only discolors the hot water arriving at the faucets, it can block the gas burner or electric elements, reduce heating efficiency and eventually ruin the appliance. You can prevent these problems by draining and flushing the tank annually.
  • Decaying galvanized pipes — If you’re seeing orange or rust-colored water at both the hot and cold faucets and your home’s water pipes are galvanized steel, corrosion is the most likely cause. Galvanized pipes are protected on the outside by a zinc coating, so they deteriorate from the inside out. Before leaks start to occur, have your home’s water lines inspected by a licensed plumber to determine if they need replacement.
  • Water heater deterioration — If your cold water supply is clear, but the hot water flow has a brown or rusty tinge, the problem may originate in your water heater. If the appliance is more than 10 years old and you see evidence of rust on the exterior of the tank, there’s likely significant corrosion inside as well, and the unit should be replaced before it fails.

If you have a problem with discolored hot water in your Portland home and need expert advice, contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling today.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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