When you picture your home’s plumbing system, you probably take for granted the maze-like network of pipes that carry water to various fixtures and appliances. You expect these pipes to work flawlessly, serving up refreshing water for drinking, showering, cooking, and cleaning. But what happens when these unsung heroes start to falter?
Rust in water pipes is a common problem in older homes, posing risks that extend far and wide. Besides threatening your family’s health, corroded pipes can hamper your plumbing system, affect your property, and even harm the environment. Learn about the many dangers of rusted pipes so you understand why you shouldn’t ignore this problem.
- Bitter Taste
Bitter or metallic-tasting tap water is one of the first and most noticeable signs of rusted pipes. This is a direct result of rust, or iron oxide, entering the water from corroded pipes, transforming what should be a refreshing sip into a questionable gulp. The bitter taste ruins the flavor of your drinking and cooking water while serving as a warning sign of potential health risks pouring from your tap.
- Bacterial Growth
Rusty water isn’t just unpleasant tasting; it also creates a breeding ground for bacteria. Some of these bacteria, such as those belonging to the genus Legionella, can cause severe health conditions like Legionnaires’ disease. This type of pneumonia causes high fever, cough, muscle aches, and headaches. This risk, coupled with the off-putting taste of rusted water, can significantly diminish your quality of life and the enjoyment of your home.
- Rust Poisoning
Drinking rust-colored, metallic-tasting water only a handful of times does little, if any, harm to the body. But consistently consuming large amounts of iron oxide, such as by drinking water from severely rusted pipes, could contribute to a condition known as iron overload or hemochromatosis. However, this is more commonly caused by genetic factors than environmental hazards.Still, if you develop acute iron toxicity, sometimes called rust poisoning, you could experience abdominal pain and nausea, leading to diarrhea and dehydration. If left untreated, iron toxicity can cause chronic fatigue, joint pain, irregular heartbeat, and other health concerns. Over time, excessive iron in the body can lead to more serious conditions such as heart disease, liver disease, and diabetes.
- Skin Disorders
The connection between rusted pipes and skin disorders might not seem evident at first. After all, how harmful can a shower be? Unfortunately, the iron oxide in rusty water can cause numerous forms of allergic contact dermatitis, leading to red, itchy, and inflamed skin. Prolonged exposure may even cause your skin to become rough or discolored.
- Lead Poisoning
Rusty pipes in older homes might expose the inhabitants to lead. If the pipes were previously soldered with lead-based materials, rust could eat away at their inner lining, revealing the underlying lead-based solder and releasing this hazardous material into the water supply.Regularly consuming lead-contaminated water can cause lead poisoning, a serious and potentially life-threatening condition, especially in children. The problems associated with lead poisoning include developmental delays, learning difficulties, and neurological harm.
- Pipe Damage
When corrosion takes hold, it does more than infect your water supply. Over time, rust weakens the structural integrity of your plumbing system, making pipes more prone to breakage and cracks. This can lead to unexpected and expensive repairs, possibly requiring you to replace large sections of your plumbing system.
- Appliance Damage
The harm inflicted by rusted pipes extends to your plumbing appliances, including the washing machine, dishwasher, and water heater. Iron oxide particles from corroded pipes can break off and flow with the water into your appliances, potentially leading to blockages, reduced efficiency, and a shortened lifespan. These problems result in avoidable repair and replacement costs, not to mention disruption to your daily routine as you deal with malfunctioning appliances.
- Destructive Leaks
As pipes weaken from rust, they become more susceptible to leaks, which can cause significant property damage. You may find unsightly water stains on your walls or ceilings, along with patches of mold and mildew. Wood flooring and wall-to-wall carpet can absorb leaked water, resulting in decay, discoloration, and unpleasant odors. In extreme cases, persistent leaks from corroded pipes can undermine your home’s structural integrity, leading to major repairs and safety hazards.In addition, unchecked leaks can send your water bills soaring. Even small leaks can significantly increase your water usage over time, adding financial strain to the list of rust-related woes. Furthermore, if the leaks reach your home’s insulation, the resulting water damage can decrease the insulating effect, increasing your heating and cooling costs.
- Environmental Harm
The leaks caused by corroded pipes don’t just cost you money; they also waste a precious resource. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that nationwide household leaks waste nearly 1 trillion gallons of water annually. This is particularly concerning in regions facing water scarcity, turning your household problem into an environmental issue.
Beyond the health hazards and plumbing issues, rusted pipes also create an unsightly mess around the house. Water high in iron oxide leaves stubborn stains on fixtures, dishware, and clothing. Your once sparkling porcelain sink or tub may take on a dingy orange or brown color, and your dishes and clothes may come out of the wash looking dirtier than when they went in.
Pipe Repair or Replacement in Seattle, WA
Clearly, corroded pipes are problematic and can disrupt your life in multiple ways. If you notice signs of pipe rust, don’t wait for the issue to escalate! Instead, turn to Puget Sound Plumbing and Heating, a family-owned business serving the Seattle area for over 20 years. We focus on providing unbeatable service and ensuring a positive customer experience. To safeguard your home against the dangers of rusted pipes, please contact us today at (206) 938-3219 and request pipe repair and replacement in the Puget Sound area.