Rusty Water

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, Questions and Answers' started by Tiff03, Jul 15, 2013.

  1. Tiff03

    Tiff03 New Member

    Jul 15, 2013
    New York

    Pardon me if I posted in the wrong forum; however, I am having rust issues in the house that I live in. I rent the house and I have been living here for about a year and half, and when I first moved here the water didn't contain rust; however, it did have a funny smell whenever I would turn on the hot water. Now, the sinks are getting slowly but surely stained, but I'm mainly concerned that I can't do laundry with white clothes because they end up with an orangish color to them. I am on well water so I have kept up the salt in the water softener, and made sure to change out the filter cartridge regularly. I did notice though that the salt used to run out faster last year than it has this year, and that I have been going through the filter cartridges a lot faster. Should I be changing the water filter as well or am I okay by simply replacing the cartridge?

    Can someone please help, I'm straight out of school and living on my own so I don't have any experience with these kinds of problems?

    Last edited: Jul 15, 2013
  2. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Nov 8, 2005
    Hansville, Washington
    The first thing you need to do is get your water tested. In some states, your county extension office or land-grant university will do some basic tests at low cost, but at the least they should be able to point you to a reputable testing firm. Without a good test, we're shooting in the dark. Also, how much water do you use -- how many people, bathrooms, Roman tubs, etc.?

    One shot that is likely to be on target, however, is that you've got an iron-related bacterial problem in the water heater. Google "hot water smells anode" and do some reading. One on-line site offers a good description of the problem at and a bunch of related reference information listed in the "Technical Resources" list on the left. They also do basic water testing via mail-order:

    I had the problems you described and ultimately solved them with a chlorinator and carbon filter in-line before the softener and a new anode rod in the water heater. All that doesn't come cheap -- around $1500 for a smallish chlorinator, carbon system, and softener rebed; the price goes up as the size goes up. (That assumes you do it yourself -- not hard if you're handy.)
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2013
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  4. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Feb 6, 2011
    NW Ontario, Canada
    A water softener can only tolerate a small amount of iron and may eventually foul up the resin. You may want to try cleaning the resin. As for using less salt, that symptom may depend on what system you have. Check to see how often it is regenerating and how much brine it uses.

    Where is the filter in relation to the softener? The softener requires sufficient GPM to backwash and churn up the resin bed and a clogged filter may inhibit that.
  5. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Jan 9, 2012
    Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
    Ontario California
    Agreed, it is impossible to give an accurate answer without an up to date water test. It is recommended that the water be tested annually, very few well owners do this. At minimum every 5 years assuming you don't have any dangerous elements in your water during the initial test.

    We could give you a wild guess with a hardness test, pH, iron, Manganese, TDS, temperature. A proper test should be done regardless.
  6. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Aug 31, 2004
    Wherever I park the motorhome.
    The first thing to do is to contact the landlord and describe the problem. Otherwise you may not be allowed to do anything about the problem, and really the landlord should fix the problem.

    A hot water only odor is caused by a group of harmless bacteria; usually iron reducing bacteria (IRB). Shocking the well, sanitizing the softener and the brine water in the salt tank and disinfecting the water heater can control the problem in some cases. Raising the temp on the water heater to 140f will kill all bacteria in the tank.

    Do not mix bleach/chlorine with Iron Out or other such resin cleaners; that is dangerous.
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2013
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