Clean, clear running water is something some people take for granted, so it can be quite disturbing if your home's hot water supply starts to become discoloured. If you notice the hot water in your home has become cloudy or taken on a brown or orange tinge, it may be a sign that your home's hot water system is failing and needs to be replaced.

However, there are also other underlying issues that can cause your hot water to become discoloured. Some of these issues can be fixed relatively easily, while others have nothing to do with your hot water system. Here are two common causes of hot water discolouration, which may or may not be solvable by replacing your hot water system:

System Rust

Hot water systems are designed to resist corrosion, but constant exposure to moisture means that every hot water system will eventually fall victim to rust. If the internal components of your hot water system start to suffer from significant rust problems, rust particles can find their way into your hot water supply, turning it an unpleasant brown or orange colour.

Before blaming rust for your water discolouration issues, you should check your cold water supply for discolouration. If the cold water is also rusty, the rust is probably located in your home's plumbing pipes, rather than the hot water system. Having your hot water system professionally inspected will let you know for sure if your hot water system is rusting.

Sediment Build Up

If your hot water supply is cloudy, and/or contains sandy particulate matter, your hot water system is probably full of sediment. This sediment consists of the mineral content naturally present in your water supply, some of which is deposited in your water heater when the water is heated.

Over time, large amounts of sediment can settle at the bottom of a hot water system's storage tank. Tankless water heaters can also be vulnerable to sediment build up, especially if they are not fitted with sediment filters.

Flushing your hot water system will usually remove excess sediment and prevent discolouration, without having to replace your hot water system. Flushing your system is a fairly easy DIY job, but you can have it done professionally if you are not confident doing it yourself.

If flushing your system does not remove the sediment from your hot water supply, this may be a sign that your system had a bad heat exchanger. Malfunctioning heat exchangers can cause water to boil inside the system, creating large amounts of sediment whenever the system is used. Damaged heat exchangers are very expensive, so replacing the entire system may be more economical.

If your hot water is discoloured, you should call in a plumbing service that specialises in hot water system repairs and replacement. These services can diagnose the cause(s) of the discolouration, tell you whether system replacement is the best course of action, and, if necessary, replace your home's hot water system. 

For more info about hot water system replacement, contact a local company.