getting a clear glass of water from a kitchen faucet
Photo: Kolin Smith
Q: When my mother leaves here for Florida every winter, she always shuts off the well pump to prevent flooding if a pipe freezes. Last year when she returned, her water had rust for the first time. Will dumping bleach into the well take care of it?
Rodney Moon, Dannemora, N.Y.

A: Richard Trethewey replies: Nope. Bleach will sanitize a well contaminated with organic material, but it won't remove rust.

It's possible that water sitting still over the winter has caused something to rust. If it doesn't dissipate after running the water, start looking inside the house for other sources. Galvanized supply pipes are likely culprits, but if she already has copper or PEX pipes, then maybe it's her hot-water tank. Draining and flushing the tank might help, but finding rust there is a sure sign that the tank will soon need to be junked.

If neither the pipes nor the tank are rusty, rust is probably coming out of the well. To stop it, put an in-line filter on the water line where it enters the house.
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