There are countless health issues with contaminated water, such as disease or chemical exposure. With so many risks, it’s understandable why we may panic when we begin noticing black residue in bathtub water. What’s causing this residue, and is it okay to be bathing in it?
If you’re curious about finding black residue in bathtub water, we’re here to help. Read on to learn about what could cause this issue, the possible health risks, and how to fix it!
What Causes Black Residue in a Bathtub?
Black residue could be caused for a variety of reasons including but not limited to hard water, dirty water, corroded components, mildew growth, and mineral deposits (if there’s black gunk in your bathroom sink, read here for more information).
There’s no one clear cause of what could create the black residue. However, there are many common culprits, and we can look into how to narrow down what may cause the residue! Here are some of the most common causes of black residue in bathtub water.
Corrosive or Hard Water
One of the first things that come to mind is that there may be small fragments of minerals and chemicals in your water. Many places have harder water than others, meaning they have a higher amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium.
Other minerals such as chalk, gypsum, limestone, and other sulfates may appear. Hard water is typically clear, but its journey through so many minerals can sometimes leave specks in the water.
Look into the hardness of your local water supply and if others are having similar issues. However, don’t assume that the black residue is harmless from hard water. You should always have a professional come out and check the water to ensure that you aren’t bathing in something bad for your health.
Another way that black residue may enter your water supply is from a dirty water source – this is rarer, though it can happen depending on where you live and recent events in your area. Dirty water should not be bathed in.
It’s also difficult to say what’s in your dirty water, as it could range massively on what your pipes picked up on the way to your home. No matter what, avoid bathing in dirty water while you contact a plumber.
One of the ways that this may occur is a recent weather event. Areas of the United States like Florida will commonly endure hurricanes, for example. These storms can flood the water service system of a community and cause backups. This often leads to water being shut off to stop the dirty water from entering homes.
Contact a plumber or your landlord to see what’s causing this issue. Above all else, do not bathe in the water while you wait to find out.
A third way that black residue can appear is corroded components. The most common component to corrode in this way is your water heater.
If you’re noticing small black metallic specks in your water, this could be from the water heater. It’s especially telling if the specks only appear when you turn the water up. This is because the water heater is then supplying water directly to you.
If this is the case, you should avoid using your water, as there are plenty of health risks to showering in small metal fragments. That said, several other components could cause this.
If the pieces are plastic, rubbery, or metallic, then you likely have a broken component somewhere. Check valves and components in your shower head or bathtub to see if it’s something you can readily fix. If not, you’ll need to contact a professional to come and see what’s gone wrong.
Growth of Mildew
You may notice black or brownish specks coming from a bathtub faucet, especially if the faucet isn’t cleaned often. There’s a chance that this substance could be mold or mildew.
Mildew favors darker, wetter places, such as faucets or shadowed cabinets in a bathroom. When a bathtub is run often or cleaned frequently, mildew and mold rarely have a chance to grow. If you see the specks a few times and then don’t see them again, it could be that the mildew was being washed out of pipes.
Either way, there are several health risks to making contact with mold. Make sure to flush your faucet system with cleaners like bleach or other chemicals to sanitize. Should the specks continue, this may not have been the issue, or you may need to have a professional come fix the problem.
Lastly, mineral deposits are a common cause of black specks appearing in your water – this is related to hard water but is a much more common way to spot specks!
As water flows through your pipes and faucets, they leave a small mineral buildup behind. These minerals will continue to stack up until they either block your pipes or flow down them. When they flow, they may take the form of tiny black specks.
If the specks seem grainy or minerally, this could be the cause. If the flakes are rubbery, metallic, or plastic, this is much less likely to be what’s causing your specks.
Health Risks of Bathtub Black Residue
Now that we know some of the causes of black residue, what are the health risks?
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to say, as it depends on the cause of the issue. A broken plastic component leaving small black flecks is unpleasant and inconvenient, but not detrimental to your health. A corroded pipe leaking rusty metal into your water is a significantly stronger threat to your safety.
The same is true for whether mineral deposits, hard water, mildew, or dirty water is causing the specks. If you can’t readily identify the cause, you should have a professional come out and see what’s causing the issue.
Above all else, do not bathe in water that you cannot identify. Bathing in dirty or moldy water can cause severe illnesses. If your components are corroding, running your water continuously could cause them to break, leading to more severe damage.
How to Fix Black Residue In Bathtub
With the health risks and causes out of the way, how do we fix black residue in bathtub water? There are a few ways that we can fix it but, as before, it depends on the cause of the residue. Here are some of the ways that you might fix your black residue problem. See our post on black stuff coming out of your bathtub faucet for more information.
Identify the Cause
The first step is to identify the cause of the residue. It’s impossible to move forward without knowing the cause. Once you know, you can dial in on a fix so you know what you’re doing.
For example, knowing what component is breaking or corroding can help you see what to replace. If you can say with confidence that the water heater is causing the problem, you can schedule to have your water heater replaced.
The same is true for components like pipes, showerheads, and more. However, if you can’t safely say this was the issue, you may waste money and effort replacing these parts just to find that the black residue still exists!
Troubleshoot to see what’s causing your water to have black specks. You should also look into previous home tenants or local neighbors and see if they have similar issues. That way, you can narrow down if it’s specific to your home or if it’s a repeated, widespread problem.
Clean Away Residue
Another crucial step is to clean away the residue. Whether you can identify the cause yet or not, you don’t want this residue staining or eating up your bathtub. Instead, use hygienic equipment and protective gloves to wipe it away.
Doing so can also help you identify what the residue is. If it’s grainy or breaks apart, it’s likely a mineral deposit. Bits of plastic or metal can help you narrow down what component is broken! Just ensure that you’re doing so safely in case you’re dealing with something that could harm you.
Contact a Plumbing Company
Above all else, it’s strongly suggested that you contact a plumbing company or your local landlord. Doing so can help get a professional on the scene to help diagnose the issue more accurately than DIY guesswork is capable of.
Additionally, there’s a high chance you’ll need to call a plumbing team out anyway due to the necessary fix. If pipes or components need replacing, this is often a difficult and complex task that one can’t do themselves. Hiring a plumber now saves time and money in the long run and can get your water clean faster!
Plumbers can also help you discover if the issue is a repeated one. That way, you know if this is something you can fix in the first place or if it’s an issue with your city’s water supply.
Finding black residue in bathtub water is alarming and should be treated with caution. You can’t say for certain what the cause is, so treating the residue as a hazardous material is the safest course of action. Contact a professional to help diagnose and fix the problem as quickly as possible.
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