Few things are as unexpected or alarming as rust-colored water pouring onto your hands when you turn on the bathroom faucet in the morning. There are many different things that can discolor a domestic water supply, so identifying the source isn’t always easy. While it doesn’t necessarily indicate a serious health risk, it’s a good idea to stop using the home’s water supply immediately until you can seek professional assistance.
Recent Changes in Local Supply
One of the most common causes of temporary water color changes is a recent change in the community water system or a limited period of extra demand. Firefighters may tap local supplies more heavily than usual when responding to an emergency, which can flush sediment and other material to houses in the area. Cities and communities that plan to switch or modify their system often inform local residents of potential discoloration in advance.
Mold and Algae Growth
There are many kinds of organisms that can establish themselves throughout the fixtures, appliances and pipes in your home. The consistently moist, dark and warm environment of a water heater can be an attractive breeding ground for mold. Black or dark water discoloration can indicate the presence of dangerous mold, which should be addressed immediately. Greener hues typically indicate the presence of algae somewhere in the supply line.
Metal and Mineral Content
If you are one of the millions of homeowners who rely on a well for your domestic water supply, than you likely have water with elevated mineral content levels. Elements like iron and manganese are commonplace in natural water supplies. While they don’t pose significant health hazards, the water may look strange and can discolor plumbing fixtures over time. Professional residential plumbing services can install a softening or purifying system to mitigate these issues.
Rust, Dirt and Chemical Contamination
Water can turn brown, reddish or other muddy colors due to contamination from a wide range of materials, ranging from ordinary soil to pesticides collected by rainfall. This kind if discoloration could indicate a problem with the home’s individual system or the larger community supply. Homeowners should have their system inspected and water tested to assess the scope and nature of the problem.
No matter what kind of water discoloration you face, you should consider disabling the water supply to prevent accidental exposure for yourself or family members. While many of the possible causes are relatively harmless, possible contamination from mold or pesticides are threats you should always take seriously.