A common issue found in home plumbing systems is iron oxide, more commonly known as rust. The accumulation of rust can lead to various issues, including clogged pipes, poor water quality, water leaks, and even structural damage in the long run. Here we’ll discuss how to properly identify when your plumbing system is rusting and will highlight the best treatment options.

Plumbing System Rust Identification

There are several signs that your plumbing system is rusting, and some are more obvious than others. It’s essential to identify rusting issues as early as possible as they can indicate more serious problems. Here are some common signs of rusting.

Visible Rust Stains

Visible signs of rust are the easiest to notice. If you see rust stains, it can indicate that rust is building up inside your pipes. You will want to check for rust stains in and around your:

  • Sinks
  • Tubs
  • Toilets
  • Showers

Water Quality

A change in the quality of your water can be one of the first common signs of rust inside your plumbing system. If rust particles are present, it can give your water a slightly brownish or reddish color. Additionally, even a little rust can give your water a metallic taste.

Low Water Pressure

While many things can cause low water pressure, one cause can be a rust buildup. Rust building up inside your pipes can restrict water flow, especially if it is severe enough. A plumber can look and see if it is rust that’s causing the low water pressure or if it is due to something else and then remedy the problem.


Inspecting your pipes for signs of corrosion occasionally is crucial. Look for discolored areas or flaking. Corrosion can commonly occur due to rust buildup. This corrosion can weaken your pipes, causing leaks and other issues. Check under your sinks, basements, crawl spaces, and other areas where pipes are visible. However, remember that corrosion due to rust can happen even in areas that you can’t easily see. Be vigilant about checking for the other previously mentioned signs of rust.

Rust Treatment Options

There are several treatment options available after rust has been identified in a plumbing system. It’s better to shy away from DIY solutions and call a plumber in most situations. Attempting to treat severe rust yourself can lead to unsolved issues, significant plumbing damage, and more expensive repairs later.

Pipe Replacement

In cases where rust has caused too much corrosion and damage to your plumbing system, it may be necessary for a plumber to completely replace the affected pipe. After pipe replacement, your plumber should inspect your system to see if all signs of rust are gone or if other problem areas need attention.

Pipe Lining

For a less invasive option instead of complete pipe replacement, a pipe lining can be added to the pipe. This is a resin coating that is applied to the inside of the affected pipe. This coating creates a new lining that is corrosion-resistant. Lining the pipe like this is more effective when the rust buildup is light to moderate.

Chemical Treatment

There are chemical treatments that can help remove rust that has built up inside your pipes. These chemical treatments are flushed through any of the pipes that are affected by rust. When the solution is flushed through, it should break down the rust. However, these chemicals should be used with extreme caution. Improper use can cause damage to your plumbing system.

Electrolytic Rust Removal

Another treatment option is electrolytic rust removal. This involves an electric current being used to help remove rust from metal surfaces. This can be effective for components and individual fixtures. However, this rust removal treatment isn’t suitable for more severe issues with the plumbing system.

High-Pressure Water Jetting

High-pressure jets of water can be used to remove rust and other debris from inside the pipes of your plumbing system. After a professional plumber uses this method on stubborn pipes with significant rust buildup, it can help restore the proper flow of water.

Rust Preventative Measures

While rust treatment is important, once the problem is fixed, it’s a good idea to take measures to prevent future rust buildup issues. Here are some common preventative measures you can take.

Corrosion-Resistant Pipes

Whether a pipe is being replaced or you are having new ones installed, it’s best to choose pipes that are more resistant to corrosion. Materials like PVC and copper are more corrosion-resistant than traditional pipes. By being less prone to rusting, they will help ensure a longer plumbing system lifespan.

Water Softeners

If your home has a hard water problem, this can accelerate the buildup of rust in your pipes. Installing a water softener can help by reducing the minerals in your water that can lead to pipes rusting.

Regular Maintenance

Scheduling regular inspections and maintenance of your plumbing system by a professional plumber is a great way to catch and fix rust issues early. Additionally, plumbers can check any other potential issues with your plumbing system to ensure everything is working optimally.

Proper Drainage

Your plumbing system needs to have proper drainage otherwise water can pool up in your system. Pooled water can lead to rust. Make sure your drains are cleaned regularly to avoid rust caused by water pooling.

Water Filtration System

Much like a water softener, water filtration systems can help improve the water quality going through your pipes. This includes removing particles and chemicals that can lead to rust. It can also help remove rust particles themselves, helping to reduce the risk of a larger rust buildup.

Contributing Environmental Factors

Some environmental factors can contribute to rust issues that you may want to consider. These can include the following.

Temperature Fluctuations

If your home is prone to extreme temperature fluctuations, this can affect your pipes. These temperature changes can cause pipes to contract and expand. The stress this causes can form small leaks and potential corrosion. Mitigate these temperature fluctuations by insulating your pipes.

Chemical Exposure

Industrial runoff, cleaning products, and exposure to other harmful chemicals can accelerate the formation of rust in your pipes. Minimizing or avoiding these chemicals can help keep your pipes from having severe rust issues.

Soil Conditions

For underground pipes, the composition of your soil and its moisture content can affect how easily your pipes rust. More acidic soil can cause severe rust, corrosion, and damage to underground pipes. Underground pipes should be more corrosion-resistant with a proper protective coating.


For exposed pipes, higher humidity levels can increase rust formation in a plumbing system. These areas must have proper ventilation. Dehumidification might be necessary in areas like basements if the high humidity level is causing issues.

If you live in Milwaukie, OR and the surrounding area and are experiencing rust issues with your plumbing, Carbone Home Services is here to help you. In addition to treating rust issues with your plumbing system, we offer various other services. We provide all types of plumbing, electrical, and gas line services. Whether you need a new installation, repair, cleaning, or maintenance, we have you covered. For more information about rust treatment or any of our other services, contact Carbone Home Services today!

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