Investigating Rust Problem

Old 11-13-06, 07:16 AM
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Question Investigating Rust Problem

Would like some opinions on my situation...

My home was a new build when my wife and I purchased it in April 2000. For nearly two years, we operated on city water without a a home water softener (and prior to completion of new water treatment plant). Since February 2002, we have rented a home water softener and the new plant has been operating for the last couple of years. Over the last 12 to 18 months, we have discovered rust in several of our appliances. The tips of the lower drawer of the dishwasher, the underside of the 'roof' of the washing machine (the drum seems fine), and the metal plate on the icemaker in our refrigerator all show an accumulation of rust. Over the summer, my water heater ruptured, and as I drained it, it was apparent that there had been a significant amount of rust in it as well.

I would like to believe that the water heater was the culprit, but now I need to make some decisions on repairing or replacing the appliances mentioned, and I would like to be sure that I have solved this issue before I move forward. The one lingering question is the icemaker. It seems like everything else could logically have been impacted by the water heater, but I am not sure why the icemaker would have accumulated rust. I am going to call the water softener service, but I would assume they will simply tell me that their unit would not cause this problem.

Could my water heater have begun this rust accumulation because of the time without the water softener? Are there other things that I should be trying to rule out before I feel comfortable that it was just my rusted out water heater passing rust through the system?
Old 11-13-06, 08:34 AM
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No device inside your home will likely be the cause of your rusting problem.
The source of most rust problems is the water supply.
If your municipality had been operating without water treatment the rust could have accumulated then.
Keep in mind that there are two types of rust.
Dissolved rust in the source water or rust producing bacteria.
Rust producing bacteria can be seen as a slime accumulation in filters and traps when wet. On surfaces once dry it is difficult to tell them apart.
I would assume that your source water is from a well.
Contact your municipality and they should be able to give you a complete water analysis before and after the plant upgrade.
The company that provided you with the softener should also be able to test and provide an analysis as well and offer a treatment solution.

A water softener will only remove a minimal quantity of rust.
Another thing to consider is that if your water softener has been treating water with a high amount of rust the zeolite beads may be coated with rust and need cleaning.
There is a powder available that is added to the brine tank for this.

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