Why Does My Water Smell and Stain My Toilets, Sinks, Bathtubs, And Clothes

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Why Does My Water Smell and Stain My Toilets, Sinks, Bathtubs, And Clothes

Water staining a drain in a sink - Williams Comfort Air Heating, Cooling, Plumbing & More

For homeowners in Indianapolis, Indiana, water stains cause unnecessary stress. Rings of pink, brown, red, or even black make homeowners feel like their water fixtures and clothing aren’t clean. Sometimes, the water itself causes these problems—and most of it the time it has nothing to do with cleanliness.

For stains and smells from water, Williams Comfort Air details how to diagnose and resolve the issue. Most of the time, homeowners only need to make minor adjustments to their plumbing. When you know the cause of the stains, it’s easier to find a solution. Plus, it’s always important to keep an eye on the quality of your water! 

Types of Water Stains 

Stains from water on fixtures and clothing range in color and severity. When the water leaves stains, it’s hard to carry out everyday activities like laundry, dishes, and showers. If you notice stains, they’re likely one of these colors. 

  • Blue. Blue stains on water fixtures and clothes are rare, but do happen—especially in homes with copper pipes. Blue stains often come in conjunction with a bitter taste, so pay attention to the flavor of the water you drink. 
  • Black. Black water stains look sinister, but they appear more often than you think on toilets and sinks. In addition to the black color, the water smells sulfuric. In most circumstances, well water produces this reaction, though water from the city does too with the right conditions.
  • Light brown. Greasy or sour water flavors often occur with light brown stains. Brownish stains appear on water fixtures and clothes after exposure to oxygen, which darkens the stain over time. 
  • Red or rust. Like with brown stains, red stains worsen over time as they come in contact with oxygen. Well water with a bitter or rusty taste usually creates red stains. Although, any water has the potential to produce these stains under the right conditions.
  • Pink. Lastly, stains pink in color occur mostly on toilets or other fixtures in the bathroom. Again, well water lends itself to this kind of stain, but city water with low levels of chlorine also allow pink stains to happen. 

Different Kinds of Water Smells

Like water stains, water smells vary in different circumstances. Though most smells are harmless, a couple cause concerns. Health comes first, and some smells indicate a larger problem with the water and its impact on our well-being. However, most smells are simply unpleasant.

  • Metallic. Firstly, sometimes water smells rusty or metallic. These smells occur alongside red or brown stains. In some cases, homeowners experience one issue, but not the other. Either way, the problem usually comes from the same source. 
  • Gas. Gas smells are the most dangerous on this list. Gasoline or petroleum smells cause health concerns when you ingest them in water. Before you worry, this problem is also the rarest occurrence, so it doesn’t happen often.
  • Moldy. Mold or mildew smells cause concern for homeowners, but the water is safe to consume. Alongside the smell, mold and mildew spores usually pop up on clothes or other fabrics you clean in the washing machine. 
  • Rotten eggs or sewage. Foul smells like rotten eggs, sulfur, or sewage happen from time to time and accompany pink stains. Though seen together some of the time, pink water stains and foul smells sometimes have separate causes. 

Causes for Water Smells and Water Stains

Water stains and water smells share common causes in most cases. The causes of these problems are often simple, but hard to diagnose if you don’t know what to look for. The best way to find these problems is to stay diligent with the surveillance of your water. 

  • Mold and mildew growth. Mold and mildew affect water in a few ways, but mostly how it smells. These substances grow in dark, warm places with a lot of stagnant water. Places like water heaters and pipes are perfect incubators for mold and mildew. When mold and mildew contaminate water, it causes a smell and the water stains clothes with spores. 
  • Fuel tank leaks. One of the rarer occurrences is fuel tank leaks. When this happens, the water smells like gasoline or petroleum. Immediately contact a plumber if you notice this water smell. The damages to fuel tanks lead to larger problems with your plumbing and cause health concerns. 
  • Copper pipe corrosion. Blue stains come from copper pipes most of the time. When copper pipes corrode, they make the water taste bitter and leave blue stains. The pipes corrode because of the pH level of the water. Water is usually neutral, but when the pH becomes too high or too low, it breaks down the copper pipes. Well water experiences this issue more than city water because the EPA doesn’t regulate it.
  • Iron sulfides and manganese sulfides. Black water stains occur when water has iron sulfides or manganese sulfides. To create these sulfides, iron or manganese combine with sulfates. The result leads to black stains on fixtures and clothes as well as a sulfuric smell. 
  • Manganese. More common than manganese sulfides, manganese also causes black stains, but contributes to brown stains as well. Manganese naturally occurs in the Earth’s crust and in groundwater, but high concentrations in our water lead to stains. Water looks clear with high concentrations of manganese, but when it comes in contact with oxygen or oxidants, the stains appear. 
  • Too much iron. High concentrations of iron in the water produce red or rust stains on fixtures and clothing. Like manganese, iron doesn’t change the water color. It appears after exposure to oxygen or oxidants like hydrogen peroxide or bleach cleaners. Iron makes the water smell metallic as well. 
  • Bacterial growth. Finally, bacterial growth contributes to water smells and stains. Pink water stains often aren’t from the water itself. The bacteria reacts with air and creates a pink hue. Bacteria also causes foul smells like rotten eggs and sewage. 

Some water stains and water smells occur because of problems with the plumbing or from other substances. For example, some cleaners stain water fixtures blue, food causes foul smells in drains, and coffee stains white sinks brown. Be sure to eliminate these causes before you call a plumber to help with the issue. 

How to Fix Water Stains and Water Smells

Solutions to water stains and water smells require little from homeowners. In most cases, simple adjustments to the plumbing fix the issue. Even easier, if you regularly clean your fixtures you are less likely to experience issues. Here are the best ways to resolve these problems.

 

  • Clear and disinfect water heater. Bacteria grows in dark, warm spaces with stagnant water. Water heaters have all of those characteristics, which make them great places for bacterial growth. Clear the water from the unit and disinfect it with a bleach and water solution. This takes care of water smells and keeps it free of bacteria.  
  • Replace copper pipes. If you experience blue water stains, contact a plumber to assess your copper pipes. Plumbers take a look at your pipes and diagnose any corrosion. Though repairs and replacements are costly and take up time, they’re sometimes unavoidable. Talk to the plumber about your best course of action and schedule regular maintenance checks to prevent the issue altogether.
  • Test well water. Water tests assess your water for minerals and contaminates. Homeowners are able to do these tests on their own, but plumbers do them as well. The EPA doesn’t regulate well water, which means you never know what the water you use contains. Well water usually contains higher levels of iron, manganese, and other minerals. 
  • Neutralize water. Homeowners are able to use water tests to find the pH of their water as well. However, plumbers need to apply the solution. If the pH of the water goes above or below 7, then a plumber uses a water neutralizer. This ensures the water is neither too acidic nor too basic.
  • Water treatments. Plumbers also do water treatments to improve the water quality. When the water quality is high, water stains and water smells are less likely. Reductions in iron and manganese occur because of the water treatments, and the present bacteria lowers. The taste of the water improves too!
  • Filtration. Filtration is one of the easiest ways to reduce water stains and water smells. Carbon filters, reverse osmosis, and water purifiers keep iron and manganese levels low. They also make sure your water stays cleaner overall, which makes your water taste better. Consult a plumber to pick the best filtration option for your home. 
  • Clean fixtures. The easiest way to eliminate pink stains and fouls smells is to clean your water fixtures—especially the toilet—often. Clean with bleach to kill off the bacteria and reduce the chance of stains. Remember, your washing machine and dishwasher are both great places for mold and mildew, so clean those too.  

 

Water Stains and Water Smells Go Away With Williams Comfort Air

Williams Comfort Air in Indianapolis, Indiana wants to eliminate water stains and water smells in your home. The solutions to these problems are easy to apply and you instantly see improvement in the quality of your water.  

Our plumbers are here to help you with all your plumbing needs. For more information, give us a call today. We offer free service estimates!

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