Rusty water, or water which contains particles of oxidized iron, is reddish and can smell quite odd. Yet, despite its unappealing sensory qualities, it is actually quite harmless to most of the population. And although the Environmental Protection Agency does enforce limits on the rust quantity of drinking water, it is only for aesthetic reasons.
What is Rust?
Rust is a flaky red substance also known as iron oxide. To create iron oxide, all that is required are three components: iron, oxygen, and water. When water rests on iron, it corrodes it. The corrosion caused by water is due to water’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the air around it. Water which absorbs carbon dioxide is a weak form of “carbonic acid”, an electrolyte which dissolves the iron. The dissolved iron then mixes with oxygen when exposed to air and reforms as iron oxide, or rust.
How Does Rust Enter Drinking Water?
As we now know, rust is simply a reaction between iron and water, therefore, for rust to enter a supply of drinking water, all it requires is that a pipe be made of iron and that the iron be exposed to oxygen. In some cities, iron pipes from almost one-hundred years ago have begun to corrode, although the process is a slow one. When the water flows through these pipes, corroded iron particles will be broken free by the water pressure and swept along. Once these particles are exposed to oxygen, the particles will form iron oxide.
Iron may also occur naturally in some water. Water which runs through iron rich ground will rust if exposed to oxygen as well. Most of the time, the water only becomes exposed to air if it is held in a reservoir or an unpressurized tank. The water can also be exposed to air and oxidize if a water main breaks or if a fire hydrant is activated.
What to do if Your Water Shows Signs of Rusting
Rusted water is only a health danger to those with hemochromatosis, a blood disorder wherein excess iron can accumulate in a body’s vital organs, although the disorder is extremely rare. Nonetheless, rusted water is unpleasant to drink, smell and look at.
If you notice that there is rust in your water, there are several courses of action you can take. According to Wade Architectural Systems, a company you should contact when using architectural metal panels, if the problem is due to a burst water main, you will be notified by the authorities. If this is the case, the authorities will be responsible for solving the rust problem. If, however, you are not notified, the problem most likely lies within your own plumbing system.
Plumbers and water-quality experts can be contacted, who will asses the cause of the rust and if the problem truly does originate from within your own home. There are two routes you can take to fix the problem. Depending on the amount of iron in your water, different filters and treatments may be employed to clean it. Better yet, if the problem is isolated to a single boiler or set of pipes, the corroded plumbing can simply be replaced.
Nonetheless, know that rusted water, while certainly bothersome, is not toxic and that, even while waiting for a solution, the water will still be drinkable and uninfected.
This article was contributed on behalf of Wade Architectural Systems, your number one choice when looking for architectural wood ceiling systems. Check out their website today and see how they can help you!