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Water staining a drain in a sink - Jarboe's Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling

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

Louisville, Kentucky residents hate dealing with smelly water and water stains – they want their water stains to go away fast! Prevention is the best way to combat stains from the water in your home. Each kind of stain has a specific cause. This means the solutions are easy once you know the source of the problem. Even water smells have fast fixes, so you don’t have to worry about stinky clothes or hair. 

Jarboe’s Plumbing, Heating, & Cooling has the answers. We discuss the most common causes of stains and smells, then detail the solutions. Some solutions take care of multiple causes, which helps prevent future stains. Our plumbers know how to prevent stains and want you to know, too!

Colors of Water Stains 

Stains on water fixtures and clothes come in a variety of colors. Each color has a different cause, but almost all come from the water itself. Check your water fixtures and clothes for mysterious water stains often. This ensures you catch the problem fast so you are able to implement a solution.

  • Red or rusty. Reddish stains occur after exposure to oxygen, as rust forms. Because of this, it appears clear in water. As the water comes out of the tap, you see nothing different in the water. However, bitter and metallic tastes as well as smells come with the red stains.
  • Pink. Stains on the toilet are often pink. Other bathroom fixtures also experience these stains. Though homes with water from the city also have pink stains, well water experiences this more often.  
  • Light brown. Like with red stains, brown stains aren’t visible in the water itself. Rather, the stains form after they touch oxygen. Greasy and sour tastes accompany the brown color on fixtures and clothes. 
  • Black. Black water stains appear on fixtures more than clothing. The water smells like sulfur in most cases, too. Well water has this problem more often than city water. 
  • Blue. Blue stains are common in homes with copper pipes. Bitterness accompanies the stains. Well water also sees this problem more than city water.

Common Water Smells

Smells in the water also happen from time to time. Some even occur with the stains. Water smells taint your clothes, hair, and skin. They also make rooms with water fixtures have an unpleasant odor. These are some of the most common smells you experience. 

  • Moldy. Moldy smells are common when you deal with plumbing. Drains often obtain this smell because mold and mildew grow in dank, dark spaces. When this happens, the water often smells too. It’s safe to consume, but take care of it sooner rather than later. 
  • Gas. If your water smells like gas, contact a plumber. This problem causes severe health problems. Consumption of water with a gaseous smell is dangerous, so contact a professional as soon as possible.  
  • Metallic. Metallic smells are common in well water. Brown and red water stains occur with these smells some of the time. However, the presence of one doesn’t mandate the presence of the other.  
  • Rotten eggs or sewage. Lastly, water sometimes smells like sewage or rotten eggs. Foul smells appear with pink stains, but the causes aren’t always the same. Sulfur often smells like rotten eggs and well water does tend to have this smell more than city water, so keep that in mind too. 

Sources of Water Stains and Water Smells

Water stains and smells occur in a variety of circumstances. When the water itself is the problem, impurities or contaminants are likely the cause. These impurities cause little harm, but they do impact the quality of your water overall. If you experience stains or smells on water fixtures and clothes, these are likely the causes. 

  • Manganese. Found in the Earth’s crust, manganese naturally occurs in groundwater. However, it causes brown and black stains when the concentration in water is too high. Exposure to oxygen or oxidants like bleach cleaners or hydrogen peroxide activates the stains. They appear clear until they come into contact with air or those materials. 
  • Too much iron. Iron functions in a similar way. In water, the high concentrations aren’t visible to the naked eye. However, when they touch oxygen or oxidants the iron reacts. The reaction produces red, orange, or yellow stains. There is also a metallic taste and smell to the water in this circumstance. 
  • Iron sulfides and manganese sulfides. Iron and manganese sulfides are the cause of black water stains on fixtures and clothes. Iron and manganese mix with sulfates to create the sulfides. In these circumstances, the water also has a sulfuric smell. 
  • Fuel tank leaks. When the fuel tank leaks, the water smells like gasoline or petroleum. This problem is extremely dangerous and must be taken care of immediately. Do not consume this water as it causes health problems.  
  • Copper pipe corrosion. Copper pipes need repairs over time, but when water is too acidic or basic it corrodes faster. Acidic or basic water causes the copper to corrode, which leaves blue stains on your water fixtures and clothes. Well water without EPA regulations sees this happen more often than city water. The EPA mandates city water at about 7 pH, or neutral, for homes.  
  • Mold and mildew growth. Mold and mildew grow in dark, dank places, which means pipes, water heaters, and similar plumbing items are perfect places for mold and mildew development. This makes the water smell musky and spores grow on clothes. The water is safe to consume in small doses, but be sure to fix this problem quickly.
  • Bacterial growth. Pink water stains—usually on toilets—are from bacterial growth rather than the water itself. Certain bacteria interact with oxygen, which turns them pink. Foul water smells often accompany the pink stains. 

Though water does leave stains, be sure to eliminate any other possibility before you call the plumber. Some stains are from cleaners, food, or other materials. Eliminate household items to ensure the water is your problem. Water smells also stem from things like food waste in drains.  

How to Resolve Water Stains and Water Smells

To resolve water stains and water smells, homeowners often seek the help of a plumber. In most circumstances, plumbers are the only way to implement changes to prevent stains and smells. However, homeowners are able to monitor water in various ways. Minor adjustments to your routine and plumbing prevents future stains. 

 

  • Test well water. If you use well water in your home, test it semi-regularly with at-home water test kits. Test kits tell you the concentration of minerals in your water and let you know about impurities. The EPA doesn’t regulate well water, so it’s important to monitor the water yourself. Iron and manganese are found in well water, but look for high concentrations. When you discover the issue, contact a plumber to take further action. 
  • Clean fixtures. Homeowners need to clean water fixtures regularly to prevent bacterial growth. Water stains and water smells worsen when fixtures are dirty, so be sure to stay on top of cleaning. Focus your efforts on the toilets in your home and other fixtures in the bathroom. Color safe bleach removes most stains from clothing. 
  • Clear and disinfect water heater. It’s important to clean your water heater too. Mold, mildew, and bacteria grow in places just like water heaters. Remove the water from the heater, then use a bleach and water solution to disinfect the unit. Do this semi-regularly to ensure the heater stays free of bacteria and mold. 
  • Water treatments. After the water test—done by either the homeowner or the plumber—water treatments are done to reduce impurities and lower concentrations of iron and manganese. Water smells improve and water stains are less likely to occur. Homeowners also notice a positive change in the water taste. 
  • Neutralize water. Along with a water treatment, plumbers use neutralizers to improve your water. When the water is too acidic or basic, the plumber neutralizes the water. This puts the water back in the neutral range—pH of about 7. Blue stains and bitter tastes cease to be an issue. Plus, the neutralizer ensures the water doesn’t corrode the pipes.
  • Replace copper pipes. Copper pipes with corrosion need repairs or replacements. Only a plumber performs these repairs. Blue water stains are taken care of with these replacements and repairs, but they take time to complete. To prevent these issues altogether, schedule regular maintenance checks. These ensure your plumbing stays in the best shape possible. During visits, plumbers run tests on the water to stop corrosion before it starts. 
  • Filtration. Homeowners are able to do some filtration on their own, but plumbers know the best ways to clean your water with advanced methods. Carbon filters clear water of impurities like iron and manganese. Reverse osmosis filtration uses a semi-permeable membrane to remove impurities as well. Along with a reduction of water stains and smells, the quality of your water improves overall. 

 

Jarboe’s Solves Your Water Stains and Water Smells

Water smells and water stains are hard for homeowners to handle when they don’t know the cause. However, the plumbers at Jarboe’s Plumbing, Heating, & Cooling give homeowners all the tools they need to diagnose their stains and smells. When you know the causes, you are able to find the solutions. 

Call us today to talk to a plumber about your water problems. In Louisville, Kentucky, we are the best place to go for stain and smell prevention. We offer free estimates on service visits and schedule your appointment right on the phone.