If you’ve noticed rusty red and/or orange stains in your sinks, tubs, or shower stalls, it can be alarming. In some cases, the source of these stains is degraded iron plumbing pipes and fixtures and what you’re seeing is essentially corroded metal particles. But, if your home is supplied with hard water, the cause is likely to be high concentrations of dissolved iron. It is possible to remove iron from your incoming water supply and this will be the focus of this article.
What are the Risks Associated with High Iron Concentrations?
Aside from the unsightly rust stains on fixtures, fittings, and even laundry, there are some risks associated with elevated iron concentrations in drinking water. It’s important to state that there is no known risk to human health, but this water tends to be unpalatable for drinking and cooking.
That said, experts agree that you should expect a 30-50% reduction in the useful lifespan of water using appliances. This leads to an expensive and earlier than expected replacement that can be expensive in the medium to long term. There are commercial products designed to eliminate rusty deposits and scale buildup inside plumbing pipes and fixtures. But, these are only a temporary fix and the problem will return unless the underlying problem is fixed.
How to Deal with Hard Water Problems
The tried and tested route for people that want to make their water supply softer and kinder for their home is a water softener system. The most reliable option is the ion-exchange method that replaces hard dissolved mineral ions with benign salt (sodium or potassium) ions. This is an efficient way to remove hard minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, and to a certain extent, iron too. If you have a very high concentration of iron, it may be necessary to install a system with a dedicated iron filter.
5 Water Stain Colors Explained
There are a number of different water stain colors and they all indicate specific problems. They are:
Orange or Red: The cause is typically iron contamination and cleaning with white vinegar or lemon juice can be temporarily effective. For a more lasting solution, choose a water softener that removes iron or add a dedicated iron filter.
White: This is often referred to as spotting and/or limescale that can be seen on fixtures, shower doors, and other locations. There may be hidden deposits on the heating element in appliances such as the water heater too. Cleaning with elbow grease and white vinegar will remove these mineral deposits but the only lasting solution is softened water.
Yellow: The usual cause is tannins. These are naturally occurring organic materials that can be found in both city and private well water supplies. They can be cleaned with baking soda and white vinegar and for a lasting solution install a whole house water filtration system.
Dark Brown or Black: The cause is usually high manganese levels that can be cleaned with a hydrogen peroxide and cream of tartar mix. To remove manganese and a wide range of other contaminants install a whole house water filtration system.
Blue or Green: This is typically caused by acidic water that may be causing pinhole leaks and corrosion problems in the plumbing system. Visible deposits can be cleaned with a white vinegar and baking soda paste that’s scrubbed into the affected area. For a more lasting solution, contact a water treatment specialist and ask them about acid neutralization systems.
The Importance of Water Testing
The best way to determine if you need a water softener and an iron filter is to carry out some water testing. It’s easy to find a simple kit that will show you how hard your water is and this can be confirmed with your water supplier. When you have a better understanding of your water makeup, it’s easier to choose the right system(s) to fix the problem(s).
If you want to improve the quality of your drinking water, contact your local water treatment specialist.
By EcoWater Systems.
EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is the largest water treatment company in the state and is a member of Water Quality Association.