Hot water issue .. rusty .. pipes.. need advice

Over the past few months, I've noticed that when I turn the shower on the 2nd floor on, the hot water is rusty in color. -- HOWEVER, the rust color does go away within 30 seconds or so. The 1st floor kitchen, on the other hand, does not have this initial rusty colored water.
Other facts .. 80 year old house, plumbing probably matches. Gas water heater was warranted for 6 years, is now on 12th year. I occasionally will drain some water out of the water heater. -- Other item .. throughout the house, over a few months, every faucet will collect rusty colored pieces in all aerators from all faucets.
So .. no doubt, my hot water heater is getting near the end of its life. -- BUT, if that was the case, why would the hot water color clear up after running it for a while?
The other possibility, is the pipes are rusty, being so old. So when I turn the hot water on, the first gallon or so has been sitting in the pipes, collecting rust. When "fresh" hot water gets to the 2nd floor from the WH, it's clear. This would indicate the WH is NOT to blame for the rustiness. (right?)
Furthermore, why wouldn't the cold water also appear initially rusty, if the pipes were to blame? Those pipes would be equally old. Is there something about hot water that makes pipes rust quicker?
Could this possibly be a sacrificial anode problem in my WH?
Last question .. if it IS the pipes .. with each rusty piece I collect in a faucet aerator .. does that mean my pipes are eventually going to bust? How in hell they'd ever run new pipe in my house makes me wonder. You'd have to tear so many walls open, move so many fixtures, it might be cheaper to bulldoze and start fresh! Is there some magical plumbing technique to replace pipes in walls, etc?
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Its the pipes are they galavinized? look like steel?
hot water galavinized lines fail first and yes they are eroding away and will start leaking soon.
PEX plasatic plumbing is ideal for retrofit, flexible easy to work with and much cheaper installed than copper or even regular plastic since PEX is flexible
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Um .. Yeah, I guess they are steel. Sure aren't copper or PVC. They are generally grey looking in color. Is that steel?
The pipes I can see in the basement are generally painted white. Some have some odd insulation wrap that must be 30 years old.. A few seem to .. I dunno, be plastered over? Very odd stuff, but what do I know.
.. So, you don't think it's the hot water heater failing that's producing the rust?

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no probably not the tank, painting galvanized lines white or silver were pretty common.
are you into plumbing? perhaps with a knowledgable friend you can do it a area at a time.
no doubt there will be some holes but with pex plastic flexible lines, a minimum of damage.
call and get multiple estimates from plumbers
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Thanks for your help, guys.
Damnit, I'm just so tired of putting money into this old house. Two years ago, I told my wife we were either moving, remodelling, or bull-dozing. She talked me into remodelling, but two of the frustrated contractors said bulldozing was probably the better route.
I have to admit it's a charming 80 year old tudor, but bottom line is, it aint making it to 100 without another $30k of work.

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In a house that old the "plaster stuff" you're looking at might be old asbestos insulation, I think the flaky stuff you want to avoid disturbing.
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My parents had the same problem. They had the whole house replumbed in CPVC approx 20 years ago. I would not have used CPVC, but this was before PEX, and for some reason the guy that did it didnt want to use copper. I live about 250 miles away so it would not have been feasable for me to have done it for them. Anyway, my mother lucked out and found someone just starting a plumbing business and he bid the job for some rediculously low price-- $500 as I recall. When they got through, she told them that they were way too cheap and gave them more than they had asked for. FWIW- the house was built in 1957(we moved there in 1961) 2 bathroom, slab on grade, pipes in the attic. Very tip of South Texas, so not too much danger of freezing.Anyhow, that solved the problem, and they have not had a bit of trouble with the new plumbing since. Larry
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