Here's How to Prevent Smelly Water and Water Stains

Water staining a drain in a sink - Thomas & Galbraith Heating, Cooling, & Plumbing

Water stains pop up when you least expect them. The unsightly stains frustrate homeowners across Cincinnati, Ohio. How does water leave stains? There are a few causes and each have more to do with external forces than the water itself. Water smells are similar. Both cause homeowners unnecessary stress and concern.

Thomas & Galbraith solves the mystery behind stains and smells. We cover all the different types of these issues to remove the mystery. The causes of these problems inform the solutions, so we go over those at length to give you the fullest picture. 

Different Types of Water Stains 

Stains from water come in many colors and affect everything in your home. Water fixtures, clothing, and your own person all are subject to stains. There are certain colors to look out for when your water stains your things. 

  • Pink. Pink stains occur on the toilet most of the time. They also pop up more when homes use well water or city water low in chlorine. They appear at any time, but more so when the toilet goes without a good scrub for a long period of time.
  • Red or rust. Again, well water is more prone to stain items red. You likely notice a bitter or rusty taste to the water along with the red stains. These stains appear when they come in contact with oxygen, so the appearance of the stain becomes more visible over time.
  • Light brown. Sinks and clothing become discolored with brownish water stains. In tandem with the stains, water tastes sour or greasy. Like with red stains, exposure to oxygen worsens the color. 
  • Black. Black stains almost always come with a sulfuric smell. Toilets often present these stains, but other fixtures do as well. Well water is also more likely to have this problem.
  • Blue. Blue stains occur mostly on fixtures, but quickly take over the laundry as well. Water also has a bitter taste when blue stains start to pop up. 

Kinds of Water Smells

Water smells, like stains, are varied. Some smells indicate larger problems than others, but most are easy to resolve. Smells often come in conjunction with stains and usually affect how the water tastes. These are some of the more common water smells.

  • Rotten eggs or sewage. These smells likely occur with pink water stains. However, rotten egg and sewage smells have a couple different causes. Not all of the causes correlate with pink stains. 
  • Moldy. Homeowners become fearful of moldy smells in their water because of the health concerns mold and mildew cause. You likely notice other symptoms—mold or mildew spores on clothing—when you smell moldy water. Stains aren’t necessarily present with this smell.
  • Gas. If the water smells like gasoline or petroleum, immediately stop consumption and use of the water. These smells are rare, but do lead to health problems. 
  • Metallic. Metallic or rusty smells come in conjunction with red or brown stains from the water. The smells also come with a metallic taste. However, homeowners experience either the smells or the stains—not both—in some cases. Well water experiences this problem more than water from the city.

Causes for Water Stains and Water Smells

The causes of stains and smells from your water are often the same. They occur at different times, but more often than not one cause creates multiple problems. These are some of the most common causes of stains and smells from your water.

  • Bacterial growth. Most commonly, bacterial growth causes the stains and smells in your home. Pink stains stem from bacterial growth. This happens in the bathroom more than anywhere else. However, the water itself doesn’t cause the stain. Bacteria in the air causes the pink color. Bacterial growth also causes water to smell like rotten eggs and sewage. 
  • Too much iron. Water with high concentrations of iron tend to stain fixtures and clothing red, orange, or yellow. It also produces a metallic smell and taste. However, when you use the water, it appears clear. The color appears after it touches oxygen or oxidants like chlorine bleach or hydrogen peroxide. These substances cause the iron to oxidize, which causes the water smells and water stains.
  • Manganese. Found in the Earth’s crust, manganese is common in groundwater. Large quantities in our water leads to minor stomach issues but small amounts are not a cause of concern. Light brown stains are from high manganese concentrations in water. Like with iron, manganese appears clear until it comes in contact with oxygen or oxidants. When the concentration becomes incredibly significant, the water stains fixtures and clothing black.
  • Iron sulfides and manganese sulfides. Another reason for black stains comes from iron sulfides or manganese sulfides. Sulfates combine with either iron or manganese to form the sulfides. These sulfides leave black stains and cause water to smell like sulfur.
  • Copper pipe corrosion. When copper pipes deteriorate, they leave blue stains on fixtures and laundry. The water also tastes bitter. Low pH water likely causes this problem because it points to overly acidic water. Well water is more prone to this issue. A high pH also causes copper pipes to corrode because the water is too basic. 
  • Fuel tank leaks. Though few stains are from fuel tank leaks, the water smells when this occurs. Gasoline or petroleum smells point to this problem. Fuel tank leaks are the most serious problem on this list, so seek professional help as soon as you notice the smell.
  • Mold and mildew growth. Again, this cause contributes to water smells but not water stains—unless you count spores on clothing as stains. Mold and mildew grow where water stagnates and in dark, warm places. Most plumbing components in your home fit that description. If there is mold in your pipes, it makes your water smell like mold or mildew. 

Remember, some causes of stains or smells aren’t because of the water itself. Some stains look like they’re from your water, but are actually from cleaners, soaps, food, or other substances. Most of these kinds of stains and smells are taken care of with a good clean. 

Solutions for Water Stains and Water Smells

Most fixes for stains and smells are easy for homeowners. In most cases, the solution takes under a day to complete and you see results within the week. Of course, some issues need the help of a plumber. 

 

  • Clean fixtures. To eliminate bacterial growth, clean your water fixtures and appliances often. In particular, clean your toilet even more than other fixtures. Bacterial growth occurs when left on its own, but if you clean regularly, the bacteria doesn’t have a chance to grow. Also, remember to clean your dishwasher and washing machine. These appliances also grow bacteria. 
  • Filtration. Reduce iron, manganese, and other minerals with filtration devices. Carbon filters, reverse osmosis, and water purifiers all reduce the amount of these substances to reduce water smells and water stains. Before you install these components, consult with a plumber to determine the exact cause of the problem.
  • Water treatments. Water treatments improve the overall quality of your water. They reduce concentrations of minerals like iron and manganese and remove bacteria from the water. This makes it safer to consume and eliminates the potential for water stains or smells. Water treatments are done by a professional plumber.
  • Test well water. If you use well water, frequently test the mineral levels. Well water is not regulated by the EPA, which means it potentially has high concentrations of iron, manganese, or other minerals. There are at-home water test kits if you prefer to check this on your own. However, plumbers know how to remove the stains and smells after they test the water. 
  • Neutralize water. Again, homeowners need a plumber to perform this task. Plumbers determine if the water is too basic or acidic through water tests. If the pH comes back too high or low, they neutralize the water. Water is neutral at a pH of about 7.
  • Replace copper pipes. Have a plumber assess your copper pipes if you experience blue stains. They tell you if the pipes have corrosion. After, the plumber talks replacement and repairs with you. Most of the time, these repairs take a long time to complete, but are well worth the time and effort. Preventative maintenance checks reduce the chance of corrosion as well.
  • Clear and disinfect water heater. The water heater needs to be clean just like the water fixtures in your home. Clear the water from the heater and disinfect the inside with a bleach and water solution. This reduces water smells and keeps your water free of bacteria. Perform this task semi-regularly to lower the chance of bacterial growth.

 

Thomas & Galbraith Removes Water Stains and Water Smells

Water stains and water smells cause unnecessary stress for homeowners, but the causes are easy to identify. Once you know the problem, the solutions are simple and quick. Homeowners even perform some of the fixes themselves! However, when you need help, call one of our plumbers to fix the issue.

Thomas & Galbraith in Cincinnati, Ohio knows how to handle your water smells and stains. With our experience, we fix the problem in no time at all. Give us a call today to learn more about our services. We know we have the solution to your problem!

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