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Water Heater Rust Troubleshooting


water heater rustOur customer had rust coming out of her bathtub when she turned on the water. Certainly not a good sign with some expensive solutions.

There are several considerations here that will help lead to a diagnosis. The two most likely problems are either the water heater tank is corroded and rust is present. The second possibility is that a fitting used in the faucet is corroding. The more likely of the two is that the water heater will need replaced.

Is the rust coming out of just one faucet or many faucets? If rust is present at just one faucet, it may be that the installer of that faucet used an inferior fitting and that fitting is rusting, which would explain the rust in that one fixture. Another clue is that if rust is present when both the hot and cold water run separately. If the problem is actually the water heater, you should have rust when running only the hot water. If you have rust when running only the cold water, it might suggest the installer used inferior fittings on both the hot and cold sides, and therefore may not be the water heater.

It is a good idea to note the location of the fixture in relation to the water heater. For example, if the water heater is on the opposite side of the wall from the suspect fixture, it may just be that that fixture is closest to the water heater and will receive the brunt of the rust. So other fixtures farther away from the water heater may receive very little rust, and may suggest that the fixture is rusting when in fact the water heater is to blame. If the suspect fixture is in a bathroom with other hot water fixtures, let the water heater sit for a period of time so that the rust has time to accumulate in it. Then turn on the hot water in a different fixture to see if you get rust from it. If you get rust coming from a previously unaffected fixture, you might consider a water heater replacement.


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