Yellow Water in Bathtub: Causes and How to Fix

Is there yellow water coming out of your bathtub but nowhere else in your house? Or is there perhaps yellow water coming from all the faucets you own?

While you may be disturbed by this development at first, it’s most likely nothing to be worried about and can be fixed through a number of solutions.

That said, while yellow water may not be immediately harmful, that doesn’t mean it won’t have adverse effects on you and your bathtub in the future, so you should get it resolved as soon as possible.

In this post, I’ll outline some of the most common causes of yellow bath water and how you can fix them so that your water is crystal clear and clean.

Why My Bathwater is Yellow

As any expert will tell you, yellow water is almost always the result of rust. 

The yellowish tint is caused by rust rubbing off and mixing in with your water supply, and while this is fundamentally harmless to your health, it is a pressing matter that needs to be fixed as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, just knowing the problem is rust doesn’t solve anything. You’ve got to know what places are rusting if you want to fix them.

For that, here is a list of all the places rust might come from and what you can do: 

Rusty Shower Faucet

If the water is only yellow in your shower or bathtub, it’s likely because you’ve got a rusty faucet or shower head. 

The best way to solve this issue is simply by detaching the rusted parts and replacing them.

This situation is the best-case scenario, as this solution is relatively cheap. You can easily do it without the help of a professional.

Rusty Water Heater

If there’s yellow water present only when you run hot water, then your water heater is probably rusting from the inside out.

Unfortunately, the only way to fix this problem is to replace the water heater entirely. Rust on the inside means that the heater has run the course of its life and is no longer usable. 

Rusty Plumbing Pipes

If the water in your house is yellow regardless of temperature, it’s probably because your plumbing pipes are rusty.

If you notice the water is only faintly stained yellow, this could indicate only lightly rusted pipes, and you might be able to wash away the rust through flushing.

To flush your pipes, turn on all your water taps and faucets (such as showers and sinks) and let them run at full pressure at cold temperatures for about 20 minutes. If the water is still murky and yellow, give it half an hour and try again.

If this doesn’t work, then you’re probably going to have to replace the piping altogether. If you don’t know what you’re doing here, I highly recommend going to a professional for help. It may get a bit pricey, but doing something wrong could make things much worse.

Other Causes

If there’s yellow water running through your house but seemingly no discernible cause, it might be a problem with the city. Consult local news sources for any reports regarding tainted water supplies. If nothing comes up, check with neighbors to see if they’re experiencing similar issues.

If you can’t find an underlying cause, you should call a plumber. Sometimes, we aren’t equipped to handle some of our problems and have to reach out to someone who can.

What Causes Rust?

Rust is inherently caused by corrosion. Over time, the inner lining of your pipes and faucets will begin to wear away, and the iron lining will become exposed. Once this happens, the metal will oxidize, and rust will start to form.

The time it takes for your plumbing to rust boils down to usage, quality, and time.

If you’re constantly running water in your house, you’re inevitably going to wear down piping much faster. The best way to combat this is to take shorter showers and not leave the water running unnecessarily. Your plumbing, the planet, AND your water bill will all thank you for this.

Rusty pipage can also be the effect of poorly made material that runs the course of their lives much faster. The solution to this? Better quality pipes. It’s probably not your fault in the first place, but be mindful of this if you do run into such an issue.

Of course, sometimes it’s just a matter of, well, time. Everyone’s pipes are going to rust eventually, whether in your lifetime or the next. I don’t really have a solution to this one other than “accept it when that time does come.”

Is Rusty Water Dangerous?

By itself, no, rusty water isn’t dangerous. There are no underlying health effects concerning rust, though it may irritate your skin if you have a condition such as metal hypersensitivity (which is pretty rare).

That doesn’t mean you can let bygones be bygones, as rust often indicates problems with your plumbing. If you ignore it for too long, it can eat away at your pipes and ruin your entire piping system, which is obviously bad.

Can I Shower in Yellow Water?

Nothing is stopping you from showering in yellow water, but it’s not something I recommend doing unless you don’t have a choice.

Yeah, it won’t hurt you, but it does smell like iron, and most people prefer not to go around with metal-scented cologne. Plus, minuscule bits of rust can get into the water and, in turn, find their way into your hair.

Can I Drink Yellow Water?

Another thing that’s technically okay to do, but I would never tell anyone they should, is to drink yellow water.

Assuming the cause is rust, it doesn’t pose a threat to your health. There’s a common misconception that rust causes tetanus, but this isn’t actually true.

I’ll tell you now that while the water will have a heavy iron taste, there are better ways to up your daily iron intake.

Is Yellow Water Safe For Pets?

I’m not a veterinary expert, but I do know if you accidentally give your pets a small amount of rusty water, they’ll be fine. For the long term, I’m not so sure.

Since it’s okay for humans, it’s probably fine for them, but if you love them, please don’t give them rusty water. They certainly won’t appreciate the metallic taste, and it’s a pretty inconsiderate gesture since it’s not their fault.

In short, you and your pets should just stick to water bottles until you get any water-related issues resolved.

FAQs 

Here are some commonly asked questions around the web:

Can a water softener cause yellow water?

A water softener, a device to remove excess minerals in the water, can cause yellow water if it malfunctions or breaks.

What happens if rusty water gets into a cut?

As a result of the rust? Nothing. Rust won’t cause tetanus or infection, though the bacteria from a compromised pipe could potentially do some damage.

The Bottom Lines

Yellow water is a slight inconvenience at best and a pricey plumbing problem at worst. 

While it can almost always be traced back to a rusty apparatus, you should avoid drinking or bathing in it until you’re sure (and even then, you still probably won’t want to).

Unfortunately, sometimes the answer isn’t always clear cut, and you’ve got to reach out to a professional for help. There’s nothing wrong with this, but there is something wrong with not doing anything at all.

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