Major rust now in our supply; odd plumbing

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by Modrob, Jul 25, 2020.

  1. Modrob

    Modrob New Member

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    Recently we’ve had some episodes of rusty water, mainly in toilets, but it would clear up in a day or so. This week, almost suddenly, it has started with a vengeance and not letting up. I’ve tried best I can to track down the source but the plumbing in her home is perplexing...(her late husband was a very creative DIYer—the house started as a single wide mobile home, and over the years he added on more structures and a full, sectioned basement) so we’re trying to make sense of a lot of it...
    Best I can tell, the utility-furnished supply is brought in under the trailer part, under a bath sink, with a large valve and hose-clamped onto a black hose pipe, about 1 1/4” or so. Then, it’s adapted down to leave the valve using 3/8” copper tubing into some tees and c/o valves to feed the rest of the rooms. This has been over the course of years from about 1981 to about 2015...
    I have many pics of the setup and there looks to be a lot of corrosion on some surfaces and I’m thinking the rusting is something breaking down in one of these pieces. I’ve flushed lines and isolated things to try and narrow down but afraid to try and turn nuts for fear of catastrophic trouble and being without water until I can replace it all. (Honestly I’d love to pull the sink right now, tear it all out and redo it, but want some further insight) I wouldn’t think any of the metals are dissimilar but...something is coming undone, and it’s some ugly brown-orange rust...(it’s not the utility—it’s in the home...washing machine and outdoor hose were plumbed in before the rest of the stuff, and no problems with them)
    Thanks for any discussion.
    (Replacing the whole house system is just not an option now)
     
  2. Modrob

    Modrob New Member

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    I have many pics of the mess; here is my drawing of what I believe we have...
    Notice that on the first of three “tees”, there is a fourth tap—looks the late husband brazed another connection...one can see the solder ring around the tubing...)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 26, 2020
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  4. Modrob

    Modrob New Member

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    The main valve under sink, clamped onto a black supply line... 83A896F9-9451-477D-B26C-983D0DD79C85.jpeg
     
  5. Modrob

    Modrob New Member

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    Here’s one of the cut-off valves and the worst corrosion: CAADEC27-0D2A-4F38-B595-076A04A1495D.jpeg
     
  6. Modrob

    Modrob New Member

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  7. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    Still could be the utility. You would be unlikely to notice rust sediment at the outdoor hose.

    Consider asking the utility if they have rust in their lines.
     
  8. Modrob

    Modrob New Member

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    Thanks for the reply. We did talk to the utility—nothing unusual lately. Believe me, this rust is so bad, it can be seen in any stream...looks like a horror movie scene when it changes back-and-forth in color...
     
  9. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    Some older homes might have used a galvanized supply line from the street into the home. Do you know what kind of pipe is coming in from the street?
     
  10. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    None of the things in your photos can cause rust. A magnet will attract the things that might cause rust.
     
  11. Modrob

    Modrob New Member

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    No galvanized pipes in the home, and plastic pipe was run from the meter about 150 feet to the house by the late DIYer...
     
  12. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    Do you have a hot water recirculation system? They may have used a cast iron pump rather than the required bronze or stainless steel which tend to be lots more expensive, but won't rust in potable water.

    If you have an expansion tank that has failed, most of them are made of steel, and without the bladder intact, could add rust to the system.
     
  13. Modrob

    Modrob New Member

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    No, none of that.
    The supply comes in under north bath under sink. Plastic pipe hose-clamped into the bottom of the main valve. Then drops down to the 3/8” line, runs through three “tees”, and two cut-off valves. This room originated the water to then go to supply the others further south in the home. This first bathroom gets the brunt of the rusty-orange coloring in the bowl and in the sink. You can run the cold sink tap and watch the flow change from clear to the orange in blips and sometimes longer. The tank can fill for a few seconds then suddenly start to see the “mushrooming cloud” of the affected water start emanating from the tower flush valve at bottom...

    Both the washer and outside hose , and the refrigerator water dispenser lines (all take off from where personal main line comes into basement beside washer) were tapped off before the water continued the journey through some previous “iron remover” unit piping (few years back they only had well water, rich with iron...when city water became available they took it on. Again, all the piping for the treatment unit was diverted through a by-pass circuit then fed the main valve/distro setup back up under that first bath sink.
     
  14. Modrob

    Modrob New Member

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    Here’s what that first bath sink aerator looked like yesterday;
    Cleaned it up and helped a little bit, but then the nasty water started spurting back in the flow...


    A2282DDE-2893-4306-A9F2-E53AC8885B5E.jpeg
     
  15. Modrob

    Modrob New Member

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    Don’t know if I mentioned before:
    Nothing fancy about this system or “fancy” parts—just plain hand valves, typical chrome cut-offs, and those small 3/8” copper lines running everywhere.
    3 typical small baths with showers, simple kitchen with water in fridge and dishwasher, washing machine in basement (cold water only but tapped into system supply at point of entry before running on and into main distribution unit under first bath sink, same as the outside faucet)...
    The first bath commode and sink have been the worst with the severe discoloration (orangish-brown) but oddly, the shower in there hasn’t been affected much...it has a single mixer valve...the kitchen sink is next in line with single handle faucet. Again, using hot only don’t notice any problem but cold only it shows up some. A small “apt.” bedroom is next, with some toilet issues and some slight episodes in sink (cold)...(that shower isn’t used much)...and the last bedroom has full bath that has had some discoloration in all three.
    Five days later now, the farthest appliances have much less problem, and the first bath seems to be lessening with time and use...
     
  16. fitter30

    fitter30 Active Member

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    A 1/2" black pipe plug can turn water rusty and with all that creative piping theres going to be more.
     
    paul-g and Modrob like this.
  17. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    I don't know what that is on the aerator, but it's something other than rust.
     
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  18. Modrob

    Modrob New Member

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    Today first bath commode. Before this flush, it looked like sediment had settled to bottom and water looked almost clear. This pic is after the flush. (Up until now bowl water would be totally orange/brown and stay that way)
    The water heater is new, installed this past April after the 19 year-old one rusted at bottom, so today I’m going to flush it to see what I get from it...
     

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  19. Modrob

    Modrob New Member

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    I guess I should just get to the point...haha...
    That mess under the sink where all the connections are made, what would YOU do to replace it (and hopefully get rid of what’s causing the nasty water)?
    It’s nearly impossible to tear out any lines after they go through that bath wall as the builder did each add-on at different times over the years.
    Of course I’d start with a good Ball Valve for the main but to get back into those danged small copper lines...
     
  20. Modrob

    Modrob New Member

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    Latest update: water seems to have cleared again—maybe just a hint of discoloration. We’ve run all outlets quite frequently in the last few days, hoping to see if that would help clear it up some. I’m still looking to replace all the plumbing under that first sink though—already coated threaded areas with PB Blaster...
     
  21. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    What is going on with that black-white drain pipe interface at the wall? If I made changes, I would be looking to put a properly glued trap adapter near the wall, and use a slip joint trap for easy adjustment and cleaning.

    Changing the stuff in your picture will not help with a rust problem, but it could increase flow, give you reliable easy stop valves, and would look better.
     
    Modrob likes this.
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