Rusty well water doesn’t just look and taste bad – it might also be a sign that you have a problem in your water that needs addressing.
In this guide, we’ve shared the 7 best methods to get rid of rust in a well water supply. We’ve also shared the possible causes and effects of rusty well water.
📌 Key Takeaways:
- Rust gives water an unpleasant taste and leaves orange stains in your pipes and appliances.
- The best ways to get rid of rust in well water are oxidation & filtration, water softeners, rust removal products, and sediment filters.
- If your rusty water is caused by corroding pipes and plumbing fixtures, you might need to replace part of your well water plumbing system.
Table of Contents
📖 How to Remove Rust from Well Water: 7 Methods
Below, we’ve shared the 7 best methods to get rid of rust in your drinking water well supply.
1) Chemical Injection Systems
A chemical injection system that uses hydrogen peroxide is an effective, but expensive, whole home water treatment system for removing iron and rust.
Chemical injection systems inject hydrogen peroxide into water as it flows through the tank, which oxidizes iron and iron bacteria, eliminating the cause of rusty water.
A good hydrogen peroxide system can eliminate up to 20 PPM of ferrous and ferric iron – more than you’ll have in your water supply – and can also greatly reduce hydrogen sulfide gas and manganese, two well water contaminants that are often found alongside iron.
Check out the best chemical injection pumps for well water in 2023 to learn more.
2) Air Injection Systems
Air injection systems are a chemical-free alternative to chemical injection systems that work in essentially the same way: by oxidizing dissolved ferrous iron particles and pulling them out of water with a media bed (usually birm or manganese greensand). The media needs to be periodically backwashed with potassium permanganate to flush away the accumulated rust.
An air injection oxidizing filter system can remove iron and iron residue, as well as manganese and sulfur (which gives water a distinct rotten eggs smell).
Air injection oxidizing filters are expensive, but they’re our personal favorite choice for dealing with high iron and rust because they’re so effective and don’t add chemicals to your drinking water.
Read reviews of our favorite air injection (AIO) systems.
3) Sediment Filters
Another way to remove rust from well water is with a sediment filter.
Sediment filters remove large particles of sand, silt, dirt, debris, dust, and rust. You can find sediment filters in a range of micron sizes, from 5 to 100 microns – and sometimes even higher.
If you have flakes of rust in your water, a sediment filter will remove them effectively. But sediment filters won’t make a difference to your water quality if dissolved ferrous iron is your main issue.
Check out our roundup of the best sediment filters which includes a range of micron sizes.
4) Iron & Rust Filters
A whole home well water filtration system usually has a dedicated iron/rust filter that’s designed to reduce iron in the water.
Iron filters are cartridge filters that trap iron and rust. Often, these filters use a KDF media that uses redox (oxidation-reduction) to pull iron out of water, or ion exchange resin that swaps iron particles with harmless ions that won’t affect water quality.
Iron and rust filter cartridges are cheaper than air and chemical injection systems, but they’re only suitable for moderate iron problems, and they have a limited filter lifespan of 3-6 months. You’ll need to replace the filter frequently to keep your water rust-free.
Related Content: How to Prevent Well Water Stains
5) Water Softeners
If you only have low-to-moderate amounts of iron and rust in your water, a water softener might be a suitable anti-rust solution.
The main job of a water softener is to remove hard minerals (calcium and magnesium) by swapping them with sodium ions on a charged resin bed.
Most water softeners can also reduce a little iron (up to 1-2 PPM), and there are a few dedicated well water softener systems that remove more than this (up to 4-8 PPM).
📌 Water softener systems are the best choice for well water supplies that have hard minerals and iron, but they’re not suitable for high-to-extremely high levels of iron.
6) Rust Remover Products
Another way to prevent rust build-up in your water supply is to use a rust remover enhancement product, such as Rust Out (common for use in water softeners).
You can use a rust remover product to flush rust out of your plumbing supply and existing water treatment systems. However, this doesn’t target the cause of the rust, so you might have to use the product several times a year to keep the rust at bay.
Make sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to properly remove rust with this method.
7) Replacing Rusty Pipes & Hot Water Heaters
A water filter or rust remover enhancement product might remove rust from your water, but it won’t eliminate the source of the problem.
If you have old iron pipes in your plumbing system, they may be the cause of the rust in your water supply.
Replacing your rusty pipes and hot water heaters is expensive, but it might solve your rust issues without the need for installing an iron removal water filter, saving you money in the long run.
🔎 What Causes Rusty Well Water?
Rust occurs when iron and other metals break down through oxidation. Common signs of rust in your water are floating flecks of orange-brown, brown- or orange-tinged water, and brownish and reddish rings in your toilet bowls and sinks.
Rusty water has several causes:
- Dissolved iron in rocks and soils leaching into your groundwater supply
- Surface water coming into contact with metal surfaces
- Corrosion from steel or iron well components and pipes (the lower water’s pH, the higher the likelihood of corrosion).
Related: Why am I getting red residue from water?
🤔 What’s Wrong With Rust In Well Water?
Rust in your well water is unlikely to make you sick. Iron minerals are essential to human health – but they have damaging effects around the home.
If your well water contains rust, it may taste unpleasant, leave orange or red stains on your surfaces, and clog up pipes and appliances, reducing water pressure and leading to costly repairs and replacements.
📝 Final Thoughts
Rusty well water looks and tastes unpleasant, and may cause expensive damage to your plumbing system. Luckily, it’s easy to remove rust from your water supply with a dedicated water treatment method.
📌 One final note: test your water pH if you suspect it may be playing a role in your rust problems. Water with a low pH is corrosive and speeds up the rusting process. You may need to address this issue by installing a water treatment system to manage your water’s pH, such as a soda ash/sodium hydroxide injection system.