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yellow-tinged hot water

Looking for some next steps on what to do about discolored hot water.

A little while ago, I noticed a slight discoloration of the water (maybe yellowish) in the bathtub once it got fairly full. I tried filling with just cold water, and just hot water, and the discoloration only showed up with the hot water. My wife and I decided to get the water tested (hot only). It looks like we have slightly elevated iron levels in the water (0.43mg/L if that's useful). That appears to be slightly above a limit of 0.3mg/L. My understanding is the limit is not based on safety, but on aesthetics. Although it sounds like the excess iron can lead to staining, etc.

We get our hot water from a an indirect tank (60gal). We moved in in Sept/2016, but it was installed in 2008. Based on other observations, I suspect it has never been drained/flushed.

Last night I tried to drain it and flush it out. I drained from the bottom of the tank (cold water inlet). I didn't see any significant discoloration in the water until the tank was almost empty. Once I drained it as much as possible, I repeatedly let a bunch (a few gallons) of cold water in and then drained. I did this until I needed to go to bed (the water still looked discolored though).

I am planning on draining and flushing again over the weekend to see if I can eventually get it to run clear.

A few questions:

1) Seems like the iron is probably from rust somewhere? The domestic water piping (cold and hot) is a mix of copper, pex, and what I think is PVC (beige-colored). I'm a little concerned the tank is rusting out, which would be unfortunate.

2) I am planning on buying a pump to help with the draining, as I have to drain to a sink that is about 6ft away and elevated above the cold water outlet. I was looking at this one, any comments:

http://www.supplyhouse.com/Little-Giant-555110-360S-Pony-Pump-Non-Submersible-Self-Priming-Transfer-115V-1-10HP-6-cord

Thanks!

Comments

  • Paul Pollets
    Paul Pollets Member Posts: 3,393
    Try a stainless steel indirect, it will help.
  • hydro_newbie
    hydro_newbie Member Posts: 37
    The tank is an HTP SSU-60; looks like it is stainless steel.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 8,968
    Try and get in touch with @Larry Weingarten on this site. He is the water heater expert
  • kcopp
    kcopp Member Posts: 3,717
    What is your water supply? Well or city?
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 2,147
    Hello, I'd start by getting in touch with the good folks at HTP and telling them what's going on. It looks like your tank has a lifetime warranty, but I don't know who's lifetime ;) They may want to see that water test. I'd like to know what the pH is. As, acidic will not be good for stainless. Salts in the water matter to stainless too. Also, I'd look around for any galvanized steel in the system... maybe some bushings or pipe nipples are of the wrong metal. Do let us know what you find out!

    yours, Larry
    Gordy
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    Chlorides, and how hot are you keeping the indirect have a profound effect on SS also
  • hydro_newbie
    hydro_newbie Member Posts: 37
    Thanks for the quick responses and suggestions.

    It is city water. I spent some time looking over the water report (tested the hot water) and the manual for the unit.

    PH was 8.8 (seems high, and above the manual limit of 8)
    Chlorides were 27mg/L (27 ppm); seems ok.
    TDS was 120mg/L (120 ppm); seems ok.
    Hardness was 13.5ppm (CaCO3); sounds like it is too soft.
    Sodium was 30mg/L (30ppm); this is above the limit in the manual as well.

    It looks like the water is out of spec on a few different items, so it seems worthwhile getting the cold water tested.

    Once I get some info on the cold water, I may try to contact HTP, but it looks like I might be out of luck based on the info in the hot water report. Plus I'm not the original homeowner.
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 2,147
    Hello: It sounds like you have a softener. As a test,try bypassing it for a longish period of time. I'd think months, and see if the discoloration stops. You should be leaving 60-120 ppm of hardness in the water to protect metals... and you are, but the elevated sodium needs to be addressed. This can be done with softener adjustments or by installing a bypass with a valve, so some percentage of the water remains unsoftened. That make sense?

    Yours, Larry
  • hydro_newbie
    hydro_newbie Member Posts: 37
    That's the weird thing from looking at the results more closely... I don't have a softener. I should have results on the cold water in a week or two; in the meantime I plan to contact the town to see if I can get some specifics on the city water. The water in the tub was noticeably clearer after the first flush, so I will probably flush again later this week when the pump arrives. I also need to follow up on the comment about incorrect metal fittings.

    Thanks for the feedback and suggestions!
  • hydro_newbie
    hydro_newbie Member Posts: 37
    Just wanted to follow up on this...

    I had the cold water tested, and also looked into info on the town water supply.

    Cold water came out similar to the hot water, with slightly less iron, and less color. I've listed some of the specifics below.

    pH: 8.8 (hot), 9 (cold)
    Chloride: 27ppm (hot), 28ppm (cold)
    Hardness: 0.8 grain/gal (hot), 0.9 grain/gal (cold)
    TDS: 120ppm (hot), 120ppm (cold)
    Sodium: 30ppm (hot), 31ppm (cold)
    Iron: 0.43ppm (hot), 0.3ppm (cold)

    I suspect the iron may be due to older city pipes. The other levels are pretty close to what I found online for the town water. It would seem the city water naturally has high sodium levels. @Larry Weingarten , is the sodium a significant issue that needs to be addressed? Since it wouldn't be just a matter of adjusting a softener (I'd have to add some kind of filter to the incoming supply I suppose).
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,828
    With that pH, plus city water and older iron pipes, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if the slight colour problem was ferric hydroxide -- which can be removed, but not easily, and isn't something to worry about from a health standpoint (aesthetics is another story).

    The sodium is a bit high, but again unless you or someone in your household has a real health problem it's not outrageous (it could be a factor is someone has kidney failure or uncontrollable high blood pressure, but it won't cause that. Just won't help it, either). Reducing sodium can be done, but not with any conventional sort of filter. Reverse osmosis would help. Your level is not a concern, however, for any of your equipment.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,785
    iron is typically the brown or red color. A simple cartridge filter cleans up color and smell. There are hot water versions available, to install downstream of the HW tank.

    RO may be an overkill, high chlorine and iron reduces membrane life.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,828
    RO would be overkill. I only mentioned it in case someone has a real thing about sodium. I wouldn't consider it myself! And true, iron is typically brown or red -- but in low concentration it can go to yellowish.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • soflo
    soflo Member Posts: 3
    Have you tried a new cartridge filter?
  • hydro_newbie
    hydro_newbie Member Posts: 37
    Thanks very much for the responses and the suggestion of a simple filter downstream of the hot water tank. As it's mostly aesthetic at this point, I'll probably let it be for now, but good to keep in mind.

    The concern on the sodium was more along the lines of whether it would pose an issue for the indirect in terms of shortening its lifetime. I hadn't thought about sodium intake though!

    @soflo, not sure what you mean by trying a new cartridge filter? I don't have any filters on the cold water line, or the hot water from the tank.

    Thanks!
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,178
    Not sure if this is happening if you just filled the tub with cold water only, or not. That would tell you if it is a water heater problem. I have well water at my house that has tannens in it that will definitely make my jet tub look yellowish. I have been told it is common around here, and not an issue, except it looks off. We just turn the mood lights down and put a little bubble solution in. Problem solved!
    I have just heard not too long ago that there is now a filter that will remove our tannens here. Apparently, they are harder to get rid of up here than down in the states. Somehow they are different. I might look in to it one of these days.
    Rick
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,520
    Once a year, the city fire department will go through the neighborhoods and open the fire hydrants to exercise the valves. They usually let a couple hundred gallons of water out. After they do this, the incoming water, into the house is yellow. Rust, in the main, I'm sure. It may last a day and then things are back to normal. Bath water looks un-inviting. You don't do laundry, especially whites that day.
  • Hot Rod, what type cartridge filter would you install in the case?

    Thanks, Bob Gagnon
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,785

    Hot Rod, what type cartridge filter would you install in the case?

    Thanks, Bob Gagnon

    The best plan would be to take a sample and have it analyzed. Only then could you pick the correct filter or multiple filters. Iron is treated differently than silica or turbity. So different micron sized maybe needed, or for iron you may need to oxidize it withO2 contact to be able to filter it clean

    Polishing filters can clean taste and color but may plug up quickly if misapplied.

    I use a large 20" coarse filter then an Iron Curtain for iron, a softener on hot water, then carbon filter on kitchen and office sinks

    Iron is tough on softeners, tough in RO, so if that is what you have buy an iron specific treatment

    Up north of Saskatoon a few weeks back, some homeowners spend 10 grand or more with high iron 60 grain hard water, plus ocassional membrane replacements

    Comes down to how much you want to "fix" with your water and your budget

    Some minerals are good to leave in so you water doesn't taste like over processed, flat liquid.

    I can taste overchlorinated or high chloride level water. Even in Tim Horton coffee
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    hydro_newbie
  • Beehelp
    Beehelp Member Posts: 5
    Is it so dangerous, drinking slightly discolored water?
  • Beehelp
    Beehelp Member Posts: 5
    I mean it's been quite a long time since I've noticed that the water we use at home (but not for drinking) is a little bit yellow. But I didn't care
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,785
    Turbity is sometimes higher in spring and early summer in some areas. Turbity is considered the "optical clarity" of the water. Very small sized particles usually silica or silt from high runoff.

    The only way to know for sure what the color is would be have a sample tested. Odd taste or smell might point to something other than dirt
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • TrueDat
    TrueDat Member Posts: 8
    HTP also prohibits the use of dielectric unions for their indirects. Make sure the connections are only brass or copper.
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