Coronavirus Update: We are open as an essential business and continue to service our customers safely. Read More

Skip navigation


Sweetwater Plumbing Blog

Rust in the Water—Where It’s Coming From, What to Do


This is a common occurrence for people who’ve been on vacation for a week or more and left their home empty: turning on the taps for the first time after returning and seeing a rusty-red tint to the water. However, this quickly fades as the buildup in the dry pipes is flushed out.

But what about the other times when that rusty coloration appears in the water? Is there something wrong with your plumbing in Fontana, CA that requires the assistance of professionals? And, if there is something wrong, where is it coming from?

These are good questions, and we’ll tackle them below.

What Is the Source of the Problem?

What you’re seeing is probably rust—the color is distinctive and it gives the water a metallic taste. Rust is oxidized iron, and it doesn’t pose a health hazard to drink (except for people with a rare condition called hemochromatosis, which allows for an excessive build-up of iron in the body). However, rust will stain clothing and porcelain. The worst part about rust in the water is what it means for the rest of the plumbing, since it can warn of something serious.

What you need to know is if the rust is coming from your home’s plumbing or from the municipal supply. One test you can do is to see if the rust coloration is coming from only the hot water taps or from both. If it’s only in the hot water, then the problem is almost certainly in your home—specifically the water heater. If the rusty discoloration is widespread, we recommend you call the local water company to report the problem.

If you believe the source of the trouble is inside your residential plumbing, there are a couple of possibilities:

  • Heavy corrosion in older galvanized steel or iron piping.
  • Corrosion within the water tank.
  • Corrosion in the water main to your house (the part that runs under your property is your responsibility, not the municipal water authority’s).

What You Can Do

If the trouble is coming from outside your home plumbing, you’ll have to leave the repairs to the municipal authorities. However, you can have a whole-house water treatment system installed to remove the excess iron from the water entering your house. There are a number on the market that can target iron specifically.

In the three situations above where the rust is coming from your home’s plumbing, the solution is the same—you’ll need to have a professional plumber replace the rusted-out parts. The water heater is one of the most likely sources, and when rust sets into a water heater, it almost always needs to be replaced and cannot be repaired. For aging pipes in other parts of the house, professionals can locate how much repiping is necessary to replace the old iron and steel pipes with copper and plastic. Replacing the water main isn’t as drastic a job as it may seem, at least not if you rely on our plumbers and their trenchless technology. We’ll take care the replacement work you need!

Sweetwater Plumbing serves Southern California. Call us anytime—we are always open for business!

Comments are closed.