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Understanding Water Stains

We have all struggled with water stains in our seemingly endless battle to keep our bathrooms clean.  Ranging in a variety of colors, those water stains can tell you a lot about your water quality.  Whether you have city water or well water, various minerals and contaminants can show up on your sinks, showers, and toilets.  Here we are going to decipher what each color you may find can tell you about your water.

White Water Stains

Otherwise known as soap scum, white stains on shower doors, shower walls, and faucets are caused by hard water.  City water and well water can be considered hard depending on how much dissolved calcium and magnesium is in the water.  These minerals react with soap to form an insoluble substance called soap scum, which leads to the buildup you then need to scrub off of your sinks and showers.

Aside from continued scrubbing, installing a water softener can prevent this white soap scum buildup.  You’ll even find that your hair and skin feels softer and cleaner, and you need to use less soap when washing.

Pink Water Stains

Another common sight on toilets, showers, and bathtubs is a pink stain that seems slimy when wet.  You tend to see it most where water has a chance to sit and puddle.  Now pink staining is not related to your water quality.  It is actually caused by a relatively harmless airborne bacteria call Serratia marcescens.  This bacteria settles from the air on puddles of water left behind in showers and bathtubs, and form rings in your toilets.  It also loves to grow on soap scum.  S. marcescens does not commonly cause health problems, unless someone in your home is immunocompromised.

The best way to prevent the pink and slimy stains of S. marcescens is to clean your bathroom often, dry off puddles left after showers and baths, and ensure your bathroom has adequate ventilation.

Red or Orange Water Stains

Different from the pink slime, deeper red or orange staining is caused by high iron in your water.  This kind of staining is seen primarily in homes with well water.  Many well water supplies throughout the Fredericksburg region have very high iron content, so we see this fairly often.  You will see this staining in your bathroom fixtures, kitchen, and even discoloration on your clothing.

High iron itself is not a health concern when it is found in your water.  However, it can cause buildup in your pipes and plumbing appliances that cause premature failure.  With high iron levels you also often find high levels of iron bacteria that can leave behind a sulfur smell or slime.

The installation of effective iron removing water treatment can eliminate iron staining in your bathrooms and on your clothing.

Green or Blue Water Stains

Another possible sight with well water supplies is blue or green staining in sinks, showers, and toilets.  This staining is found in homes with acidic water.  Acidic water is corrosive, and when it comes into contact with copper or brass in your water lines it slowly dissolves these metals.  The dissolved copper or brass takes on a blue or green color.  You might also notice a slightly metallic taste to your water as well.

Acidic water is not only hard on your pipes and plumbing appliances, it is hard on your skin and hair as well.  Ideally you want water with a pH that is close to neutral.  Installing an acid neutralizer can correct the pH of your water so that it is safer for your plumbing and you as well.

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