Reasons Why Your Water May Smell and Cause Stains

Water staining a drain in a sink - Mr. Plumber by Metzler & Hallam

Water stains form when you least expect it. Stains on your water fixtures and clothes create stress. No one wants to deal with stains when they don’t have to, but homeowners in Indianapolis, Indiana find relief from stains and smells. Mr. Plumber knows how to take care of these problems.

In this article, we detail the most common causes of these stains and smells. The causes are widespread, but usually relate back to the water itself. What do you do in this scenario? Luckily, we cover some of the most effective solutions as well. When you face stains and smells from your water, we know how to fix the issue.

Water Stains: The Types 

Toilets, sinks, tubs, and clothes are all affected by water stains. If you notice any of these colors on fixtures and clothes, the water is likely the issue. Keep an eye on your fixtures. They usually present stains before your clothes.  

  • Light brown. Light brown stains only appear after exposure to oxygen or oxidants, which means they seem clear in water. These stains are joined by a greasy or sour taste in the water. 
  • Black. Toilets and sinks tend to have more black stains than other fixtures. Black stains come with a sulfuric smell. Well water produces these stains more often than water from the city. 
  • Blue. Homes with copper pipes are more prone to blue stains. With the stains, homeowners usually experience a bitter taste in the water. 
  • Pink. Check toilets and other bathroom fixtures for pink stains. Well water also produces this stain more than water from the city, but it isn’t uncommon for city water to create pink stains as well. It depends on how much chlorine is in the water. 
  • Red or rust. Finally, red or rust stains come about after exposure to oxygen. Like with brown water stains, they appear clear when in water, but worsen over time. The water also tastes bitter or metallic. 

Water Smells

Water smells cause just as much of a problem for homeowners. They leave clothes with a musty odor, and sometimes even your hair or skin. Though most problems are merely unpleasant, some are hazardous to your health. Keep an eye out for these smells in your water. 

  • Gas. Gasoline or petroleum smells are the most hazardous. They indicate gas leaks, which affect your health if you consume the water. If your water smells like gas, be sure to call a plumber immediately. 
  • Metallic. More commonly, water gives off a rusty or metallic smell. This usually appears with red or brown stains. However, the water stains and smells don’t have to appear together to indicate the same cause.
  • Rotten eggs or sewage. Other smells are sewage and rotten eggs. These foul smells come with pink stains, but the causes are occasionally separate. Still, be aware of either occurrence because both are possible.  
  • Moldy. Lastly, mold and mildew smells are common in water fixtures or clothes. Spores usually appear on clothes, but they come out easily enough with warm water and heavy-duty soap. The water is safe to consume, but take care of the issue as soon as possible to eliminate long-term damage. 

Water Stains and Water Smells: The Causes

The sources of these water stains and smells relate to the water itself in most cases. This means the water likely has impurities. However, the impurities are usually harmless. Only a few cause extreme health concerns. Still, it’s important to keep your water as clean as possible, so consider these causes when you notice stains or smells. 

  • Fuel tank leaks. The most hazardous cause of smells is a fuel tank leak. When the fuel tank leaks, the gas contaminates the water supply. Once this happens, the water is no longer safe to consume or use. 
  • Mold and mildew growth. To a lesser degree, mold and mildew affect the quality of your water because they spread bacteria. Mold grows in warm places with little light and still water. Most plumbing units in your home fit this description, which means mold and mildew are a possibility. 
  • Iron sulfides and manganese sulfides. In well water, iron sulfides and manganese sulfides stain fixtures and clothes black. Iron and manganese combine with sulfates to produce the sulfides. The sulfides also give off a sulfuric smell. Sulfur smells like rotten eggs, so if you’re unsure of what sulfur smells like, look out for an eggy odor.
  • Manganese. Manganese on its own also creates water stains. These stains are brown but also turn black if left alone for long periods of time. Manganese naturally occurs in the Earth’s crust and is found in groundwater. When concentrations become too high, stains are possible—especially after exposure to oxygen or oxidants like bleach cleaners. 
  • Copper pipe corrosion. Another cause of stains and smells come from copper pipes. Your copper pipes corrode when the pH of the water becomes too basic or acidic. When this happens, plumbers replace or repair the pipes. The corrosion leads to blue water stains. Well water usually produces this reaction because the EPA has no regulations on it. Water needs to have a pH of about 7 to avoid this issue. 
  • Bacterial growth. Pink stains and foul water smells stem from bacterial growth rather than the water itself. This is why toilets and bathroom fixtures are the main victims of pink water stains. Some bacteria interacts with air, which turns them a pink color. Exposure to air also worsens the smell. 
  • Too much iron. High iron concentrations lead to red, orange, or even yellow stains. After exposure to oxygen and oxidants, the colors appear. In water, iron has no color. The water smells metallic when there’s too much iron too. 

It’s important to keep in mind other causes for stains. Sometimes, the stains come from the water itself, but other times common household items are the root of the problem. Cleaners stain fixtures and food causes bad odors. Eliminate household items as the cause before you speak with a plumber.  

Water Stains and Water Smells: The Solutions

The solutions for water stains and water smells are easy to apply in your home. Plumbers help homeowners with these issues every day, but you are able to contribute to those solutions too. Minor adjustments to your plumbing help prevent future stains and smells, so take these into consideration if your home is prone to them. 

 

  • Replace copper pipes. Firstly, have a plumber assess your copper pipes if you have blue stains. Only plumbers replace or repair copper pipes, so you need their expertise to fix this problem. They check for corrosion and speak to you about options. Be aware, these fixes take time and are expensive. However, with regular maintenance the likelihood of corrosion significantly depletes. 
  • Clear and disinfect water heater. Water heaters grow bacteria when left alone for too long. Clear the water from the heater semi-regularly to clean it. Disinfect the heater with a water and bleach solution to kill any bacteria in the unit. This also takes care of water smells in the heater. 
  • Test well water. Those with well water are able to test the mineral levels with at-home kits. These kits allow you to find out the concentrations of minerals like iron and manganese. Plumbers also perform these water tests as well as propose solutions. Because the EPA doesn’t check well water, it’s essential for homeowners to stay on top of water tests. 
  • Water treatments. After tests, plumbers use water treatments to restore water to a higher quality. Water stains and water smells are less likely after water treatments. Bacterial growth also decreases and disappears. Additionally, the water taste improves. 
  • Neutralize water. Water neutralization also improves the overall quality of the water and reduces stains and smells. Overly acidic or basic water corrodes pipes. Plumbers use a water neutralizer to lower or raise the pH to around 7. Blue stains and a bitter taste go away when the water becomes neutral. More often than not, well water needs neutralization because it doesn’t face EPA regulations. 
  • Clean fixtures. Clean fixtures regularly to eliminate pink bacteria stains and remove water smells. It’s important to clean all fixtures, but focus your attention on toilets, bathroom sinks, and bathtubs. Bleach kills the bacteria and removes the smell. To remove clothing stains, use color safe bleach for bacterial stains. Other stains also go away with the bleach.
  • Filtration. Lastly, filtration takes care of multiple causes of water stains and smells. Plumbers use a wide range of filtration devices to achieve high quality water. For example, carbon filters remove impurities and reverse osmosis cleans via a semi-permeable membrane. Water becomes cleaner and tastes better with filtration as well.  

 

Mr. Plumber: Your Solution to Water Stains and Water Smells

The plumbers at Mr. Plumber know the stress of water stains and water smells. They invade your everyday life and cause annoyance. Luckily, the causes are easy to identify and have simple solutions. Over time, you notice an improvement in the water quality overall too.

For more information, call us today. We’re here to investigate the source of your stains. We also offer free service estimates, so schedule maintenance today. Maintenance improves the overall quality of your plumbing, which reduces the possibility of stains and smells.

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