There are two obvious signs that will tell you if iron is in your water. First is the reddish brown tint of the water. The second one is the smell of rust. Between the two, the smell of rust is so much easier to detect. You can smell it when drinking and it gives an awful aftertaste.
Iron contamination in water is relatively harmless. The amount of iron in the water has to be very high to pose the serious threat to health. Water that has dangerous levels of iron would have the intolerable appearance, smell, and flavor. The risk of accidentally drinking this water is impossibly low.
Although generally safe. There are some unfavorable effects caused by iron in the water. One is the staining of kitchen and bath fixtures. Brown stains are very obvious on white and other light surfaces.
Aside from iron, there are other generally harmless chemicals in the water. Iron can react with these other chemicals and produce compounds that can speed up the degradation of plumbing components.
Iron buildup within the plumbing system can also happen. This can cause blockages which limit the volume of water flowing out of the faucets. Blockages can also create abnormal pressures within the plumbing system which increases the likelihood of leaks
These problems can be prevented with the use of iron filters. There are many kinds of iron filters designed for different applications. Some are designed for personal or home use. Others are made for large-scale commercial applications.