Discolored Water From Water Heater: Causes and Solutions

Understand the common causes of discolored water from water heater with Stewart Plumbing. Contact us today about solutions.

There’s nothing more disappointing than turning on your hot water tap and seeing discolored water flowing out of your water heater. What does discolored water from a water heater mean? In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the causes of discolored water from your water heater, including sediment buildup, corrosion, pipe materials, and bacterial growth. At Stewart Plumbing, we are dedicated to providing solutions to address these issues and ensure your water remains clear and clean. Contact us today if you’re experiencing discolored water from your water heater! 

Causes of Discolored Water

There are a wide variety of reasons for discolored water coming from your water heater. It’s essential to understand the different reasons so that you can accurately diagnose and address the problem. Some of the most common causes of discolored water are:

  • Sediment Buildup
  • Corrosion
  • Pipe Material
  • Bacterial Growth

Sediment Buildup

What It Is: Sediment buildup refers to the accumulation of minerals, debris, and rust particles at the bottom of your hot water tank.

What Causes It: Minerals present in the water supply settle at the bottom of the tank over time.

Common Signs: Discolored or murky water, reduced hot water supply, popping or crackling noises.

Solutions: Regularly drain and flush your hot water tank to remove sediment buildup.


What It Is: Corrosion involves the deterioration of the water heater’s inner lining or the heating element.

What Causes It: Contact between different metals in the tank, chemical reactions, or exposure to corrosive elements.

Common Signs: Rusty or discolored water, metallic taste or odor.

Solutions: Replace corroded parts, address anode rod issues, or consider a water softener to prevent corrosion.

Pipe Material

Types: Galvanized steel, copper, PEX (cross-linked polyethylene).

How They Impact Water Color: Galvanized steel pipes can release rust and debris, copper pipes may cause blue or green staining, and PEX pipes are less likely to affect water color.

Solutions: Replace or treat pipes if necessary to eliminate discoloration.

Bacterial Growth

What It Is: Bacterial growth in the water heater can lead to the development of biofilm and unpleasant odors.

What Causes It: Stagnant water and warm temperatures provide an ideal environment for bacterial growth.

Common Signs: Foul-smelling water, strange taste.

Solutions: Disinfect the water heater and maintain a regular hot water usage schedule.

What’s Causing Your Discolored Water?

Identifying the cause of discolored water from your water heater can involve a process of elimination. Consider factors like the age of your water heater, the type of piping used, and the presence of sediment or rust on the outside of your system and connecting pipes. Also, consider that the issue may stem from more than one issue, especially if your water heater is nearing the end of its lifespan.  While some issues can be resolved through DIY maintenance, others may require professional assistance. If you are unable to determine the cause or if the problem persists despite your efforts, it’s advisable to contact a certified plumber or water heater technician, Stewart Plumbing, to diagnose and address the problem.

Keep Your Water Clear

Discolored water from your water heater can be a common issue with various underlying causes. Understanding these causes, such as sediment buildup, corrosion, pipe materials, and bacterial growth, is crucial to resolving the problem effectively. Regular hot water tank maintenance, including draining and flushing, can help keep your water clear and clean. If you need clarification on the cause of discolored water or are unable to resolve it on your own, feel free to seek professional assistance to ensure your water heater operates efficiently and delivers clear, safe hot water. Contact us today, if your water heater is producing discolored water. 

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