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Advanced Plumbing and Rooter Service

231 Market Place, Suite 540
San Ramon, CA 94583

Phone: 925-383-6100

C-36 License #782789

Discolored water coming from the sink faucet

The Water Coming Out of My Faucets is Discolored. Help!

If you open the faucet to find grungy, discolored or rusty water, you’re probably going to feel confused, and even disgusted! Discolored water that affects your entire system is going to bring your household to a grinding halt, as no-one is going to be able to clean, cook, drink or bathe until you correct the problem. Here’s how to troubleshoot discolored water and bring your water supply back to crystal clear.

Is it Your Hot Water, Cold Water or Both?

Knowing where your discolored water is coming from can help you get to the bottom of the problem. Homeowners frequently find discolored hot water coming from their faucets, because the issues with the water heater can affect the hot water color. Sometimes the cold water or your entire water supply could be affected. Be sure to note the source of your discolored water to help you find the culprit.

Rust or Corrosion in the Pipes

Older galvanized iron pipes can rust or corrode as they age. Particles of rust can dissolve and break off into your water supply causing discoloration of your hot or cold water. Rust colored water isn’t necessarily dangerous, but it can stain fabrics, so you won’t be able to wash if your water is rusty. If you suddenly have rust colored water, it could be due to a change in the main water supply.

Cities usually have an annual flush of the water main to clear it out, so if you suddenly have rusty water it could clear up on its own after a day or two. However, if you have rusty water all the time, in the morning, or it only affects a certain outlet, then the problem is with your plumbing system. Updating to newer plastic or copper pipes can get rid of your rusty water and prevent it from occurring again in the future.

Sediment or Mineral Build Up

One of the most common causes of discolored hot water is sediment and mineral buildup. Sediment can accumulate over time inside your hot water tank, and when particles detach and enter the water supply, they can produce milky colored water or water with visible floaters.

Sediment doesn’t affect the health or safety of your hot water, but it can impact how well your water heater functions, by reducing efficiency and increasing the energy requirements to heat the water. Regular flushing and cleaning of the tank help to remove the sediment and improve water heater efficiency and the color of your water. Tanks can’t be tough to clean, though you may want professional help. Don’t put off cleaning out your tank for too long – you could end up with so much sediment water can’t leave the tank, and you’ll need to replace your water heater.


When the conditions are right, bacteria can enter your water supply and change the color of your water. If you have rusty colored water the problem may not be rust. Iron-oxidizing bacteria can be found in smaller water sources such as wells, older buildings, and rural settings. These bacteria consume the iron and leave behind discoloration in your hot water supply.

Fortunately, it’s easy to resolve bacteria discoloration by adding chlorine to the water to kill the bacteria. However, if you suspect bacteria is affecting your water it might be worthwhile to have a plumber come out to inspect your system and check that it is safe to use.

If you can’t find the cause of your discolored water in your system, the local water mains supply could be to blame. Check with your plumber and the local water utility for information and help to correct your discolored water if this is the case.

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