Should I be concerned about excessive rust in my water?
January 3, 2006 4:50 PM   Subscribe

Should I be concerned about excessive rust in my apartment's water supply?

When I turn on the faucets in my apartment building, the water that comes out is filled with rust, ranging from a sickly looking yellow to a syrupy dark red goo. It reminds me of Woody Allen's apartment in Manhattan. Since I can't get my landlord to fix any of the other problems with my apartment, I doubt I'll ever get this one resolved unless I do it myself. As of right now, I run the water until the rust is no longer visible (or barely visible) - 10-20 seconds. I don't like wasting water, though.

Therefore, I have two questions:

1) Is excessive rust in water a health concern? I haven't found much info on the web that says it's either safe or unsafe, although I doubt it could possibly be that unsafe in small quantities, considering how easily it forms. I always filter the water I drink.

2) Is there anything I can do to fix this myself, without having my apartment manager involved? Everything I've seen so far involves putting some sort of compound in the water supply, which I obviously wouldn't have access to.
posted by helios to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
Run the water longer! Should be at least a minute. Get some jugs, let it run a good 10 minutes and fill them up. Feel the water temperature as it runs, it may get cold in two phases, once as you clear your apartments pipes and get water from the main building pipe, twice as you clear that pipe and start to draw from the municipal main. Go for water from the main. The crud is probably from your building.
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:20 PM on January 3, 2006

Buy a water filter?
posted by A189Nut at 5:29 PM on January 3, 2006

Best answer: If you're really concerned, call the City and ask if they do water quality samples. When I had a problem with water in my apartment, the inspector offered to come do a sample.
posted by acoutu at 6:06 PM on January 3, 2006

Oh, and even if you don't go so far as to get a sample, you may find the inspector will have loads of tips. The water quality officer gave me lots of information and set my mind at ease.
posted by acoutu at 6:07 PM on January 3, 2006

I wouldn't worry unless you are doing laundry in this water, or brewing beer.
posted by caddis at 6:30 PM on January 3, 2006

Excessive iron content may be dangerous to pregnant women - or at least that's what my water company repeat every time my water goes a funny colour.
posted by biffa at 4:04 AM on January 4, 2006

Run only the cold water and then see if the rust still shows. Often it is from sediment that accumulates in the hot water heater, if it seems to come from the hot water, ask your landlord to flush the tank out. You can also call the water department and ask that the lines be flushed. In Boston they open the hydrants periodically and flush out the sediment in the street lines.
posted by InkaLomax at 9:46 AM on January 4, 2006

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