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07-12-2009, 10:25   #1
brettmirl
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Brown Hot Water

Been having a problem for the last few weeks with the hot water in my house. It's coming out of the taps brown in colour.

I've drained the tank in the hot press a few times till it runs clear, but the colour keeps coming back. It's the same out of all the taps. The cold water is crystal clear.

I've checked the tank in the attic and that is clear too.

Would it be a case that the heating element in the cylinder in my hot press is rusting/decaying and colouring the hot water? The house is about 10 years old or so, so I'm guessing the cylinder is about the same.

The brown colour seems to be worse after the water has been heated by the gas central heating and not so bad if I use the immersion.

Anyone have a solution or is the best thing to just replace the cylinder?
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07-12-2009, 15:00   #2
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It sounds to me like the hot water coil in your cylinder is leaking since the brown colour would be normal in the central heating circuit. If you have a pressurised central heating system then the system pressure should have dropped to zero and need contant refilling, unless the make up valve has been left open. If it's an atmospheric system then the header tank would have to be higher than the cold water tanks to get the central heating circuit water to flow into the cylinder contents.

In either case I would bet that it is the coil since the fact that it seems worse when the central heating is on really confirms it, as that is when the circulating pump is running. Either way, you need to get it fixed as otherwise the water circulating in the radiators will be continuously oxygenated, and that will cause the rads to rust from the inside out.

The only way to find out is if you have two valves on the coil at the cylinder (both on the side, one a third of the way down from the top and one a third of the way up from the bottom) then shut off the central heating system, shut off all radiators (both valves), drain the system and shut off the upper valve, then disconnect a pipe from the lower valve and open it while leaving the cold water tank filled. If clear water runs out then the coil has failed. Careful though -- you might get a lot of water if you don't close the valves quickly enough!
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07-12-2009, 15:10   #3
brettmirl
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Thanks Art6...I know shag all about plumbing, so will be getting someone in to sort it I'd say.

Silly question time: Can you replace the coil, or would the whole cylinder have to be replaced?

This is what my tank looks like - http://i35.tinypic.com/2804ep0.jpg That't not my actual tank but the closest to what it looks like on Google!

Last edited by brettmirl; 07-12-2009 at 15:16.
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07-12-2009, 16:25   #4
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Originally Posted by brettmirl View Post
Thanks Art6...I know shag all about plumbing, so will be getting someone in to sort it I'd say.

Silly question time: Can you replace the coil, or would the whole cylinder have to be replaced?

This is what my tank looks like - http://i35.tinypic.com/2804ep0.jpg That't not my actual tank but the closest to what it looks like on Google!
No, you can't simply replace the coil as it is fitted before the top is fitted into the cylinder. If you're going to hire a plumber then be sure to ask him to test the coil or he might simply take you at your word that it's banjaxed and charge you to replace the whole thing. Testing it is easy enough if you do it the way I suggested, but if you don't feel confident about that (and it can be a messy job) then best leave it to a professional

Have to say I'm a little surprised that it has failed in such a short time -- It's possuble I guess, but I have not persoannly come across such a thing.
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08-12-2009, 08:39   #5
brettmirl
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I noticed the water turning brown after the mains water was disrupted to the whole area about two months ago.

I thought it might just have been dirty mains coming through the system once the water was restored, but it didnt clear up at all.

Getting a plumber in tomorrow to take a look at it. Thanks for the advice!
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08-12-2009, 13:34   #6
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No bother. Hope it works out for you!
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13-12-2009, 15:59   #7
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Ok so got a plumber out on Friday. He checked and said it was the coil. Got the cylinder replaced...all was grand, water clear again, till today!

Back to being brown again

The tank in the attic is clear, cylinder is now replaced. The water from the cold taps is crystal clear...it just the hot taps that are affected.

Anyone have any idea what the hell might be causing it?
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13-12-2009, 16:45   #8
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The water to the hot taps comes from the cylinder, while the cold taps are suplied direct from the tank, so there is no connection between them except that the tank also supplies the cylinder. If the coil had failed then the brown colour would be caused by the sludge in the heating circuit. That's basically rust from inside the radiators but once it's used up all the oxygen in the circuit it becomes stable. It does, however, stick to pipes etc very well indeed, so maybe the problem is that the hot water circuit needs to be well flushed or some sediment in the pipes may become dislodged. Only way to find that out, I suspect, is to turn off the immerser and the heating supply to the cylinder and then run all of the hot taps full bore for a while and see if it clears.

Not all plumbers are that careful, and if he didn't flush the hot water system it may be that it has now delivered a dose of brown to the cylinder, so flushing for an hour or so might clear it.

The only other possibility I can think of, other than the very unlikely event that the coil in the new cylinder is also faulty, is that the vent pipes from the hot water system and the central heating system have been connected, but that would only work with an atmospheric central heating system and it would always have produced brown hot water.

If the flushing doesn't work, I'd suggest calling the plumber back and telling him the problem isn't solved. A good tradesman wouldn't want to leave a dissatisfied cutomer behind
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14-12-2009, 10:09   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brettmirl View Post
Ok so got a plumber out on Friday. He checked and said it was the coil. Got the cylinder replaced...all was grand, water clear again, till today!

Back to being brown again

The tank in the attic is clear, cylinder is now replaced. The water from the cold taps is crystal clear...it just the hot taps that are affected.

Anyone have any idea what the hell might be causing it?
are you supplied by mains or a well, could be iron in the water that turns brown when heated. or could also be iron bacteria, if so the tank and cylinder will need to be dissinfected.
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14-12-2009, 11:22   #10
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Cheers again ART6. I turned off the heating supply to the cylinder and ran the water for about 40mins or so. Was running clear at that stage. Will see how I go over the next few days.

Darth - Am supplied from a Meath CoCo mains supply.
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14-12-2009, 23:09   #11
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OK, so after running the hot water for 40mins last night till it run clear, the water is now starting to turn brown again.

Would it be worth flushing the system a few times? Should I shut off the heating going to the water for a few days and keep flushing it?
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14-12-2009, 23:15   #12
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Try and find out if your heating feed pipe is taken from your cylinder feed pipe.
Sometimes you can get heating water ,getting into the supply pipe of the cylinder.

I haven't read the other replies ,my eyes are too heavy.
Goodnight.
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14-12-2009, 23:35   #13
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I've no idea to be honest yoshytoshy. I know shag all about plumbing

I've just taken some photos of my cylinder...hopefully it might help with a diagnosis!
Attached Images
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File Type: jpg P1010530.JPG (743.3 KB, 63 views)
File Type: jpg P1010531.JPG (649.5 KB, 61 views)
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15-12-2009, 06:59   #14
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The pipework is a bit confusing, for me at least, but one thing I notice is that the system make-up valve (the one with the black lever on the top end of the braided metal pipe) looks to be fully open in one photo and partly open in another. That is normally for repressurising the system in the event of loss of pressure, and it should have a non return valve by it to prevent water flowing back from the heating circuit into the cold water supply. I can't see a non return valve, but in any case the black lever valve should normally be closed. I suppose there's a vague possibility of water flowing back from the heating circuit through it, in which case brown water will result if the system pressure ever gets higher than the mains pressure.

If the hot water went brown again after long flushing then I would guess that heating circuit water has to be still getting in somewhere.
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15-12-2009, 08:32   #15
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You should get the plumber back who installed the cylinder ,he's sure to want to fix it for you.

This problem could mean you have issues with your heating system aswell. Fixable with about an hours work.
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