Water problems you can spot

Some water prob­lems, such as the pres­ence of Radon and Arsenic in water, are impos­si­ble to detect with­out an appro­pri­ate lab­o­ra­to­ry water test. But many water prob­lems can be detect­ed sim­ply by using your taste, smell and obser­va­tion skills. Here’s what to specif­i­cal­ly look for:


The pres­ence of iron in water caus­es red/brown stain­ing in the sink, tub, dish­wash­er and even on your laun­dry. If you notice a metal­lic taste com­ing from your water, it is prob­a­bly filled with too much iron.  Two main forms of Iron in water are Fer­rous which is dis­solved and rel­a­tive­ly clear in the water and Fer­ric (you can see as red­dish col­or “IC”) At high lev­els, Iron bac­te­ria can devel­op which requires a dif­fer­ent type of treat­ment to remove.

Iron Stain

If you see stains like the one pic­tured above, it’s most like­ly Iron.


This nat­u­ral­ly occur­ring min­er­al can cause brown­ish-black stain­ing in the dish­wash­er and oth­er plumb­ing fix­tures.  When water is heat­ed, this min­er­al likes to pre­cip­i­tate or come out of the water and onto fix­tures, typ­i­cal­ly seen as stain­ing.

Manganese nodule

A Man­ganese Nod­ule

Corrosion (Low pH)

A low pH is gen­er­al­ly caused by exces­sive car­bon­ic acid. Look for green/blue stains in fix­tures and short­ened life of hot water heater to spot cor­ro­sion.  This stain­ing is actu­al­ly from dis­solved cop­per pip­ing.


How is your hot water heater run­ning?


If you notice white scale on pipes and oth­er fix­tures, dif­fi­cul­ty mak­ing soap­suds, or short­ened hot water heater life, your water may be suf­fer­ing from exces­sive hard­ness. Hard water is typ­i­cal­ly removed with a water soft­en­er.  The so called, “Salt Free” sys­tems do not remove hard­ness min­er­als.


See the white scale and build-up?

Hydrogen Sulfide

Does it smell like rot­ten eggs? Chances are it’s the pres­ence of hydro­gen sul­fide. If you have any real sil­ver­ware, you can also spot hydro­gen sul­fide if it’s rapid­ly tar­nish­ing.

tarnished silver

Your sil­ver­ware may not look like this, but if it tar­nish­es like this, it could be Hydro­gen Sul­fide



Look for cloudy water and clogged faucet screens to detect tur­bid­i­ty.


Is your water cloudy or murky?

Salt Water Intrusion

Typ­i­cal­ly, salt water intru­sion occurs if you live near a marsh or coastal area. If that’s the case, you may be expe­ri­enc­ing salt water intru­sion if you notice a salty taste, build-up, or heavy cor­ro­sion. Even if you don’t live near a coast, it is pos­si­ble to get salt water intru­sion from road salt applied by munic­i­pal­i­ties.


Salt Water Intru­sion can occur if you live near a coast or marsh and can even come from road salt.

Oth­er tastes and odors to look for include a fishy taste, musty smell, or oily smell/taste. These could be the pres­ence of organ­ic sub­stances that are some­times, but not always, harm­less. It’s impor­tant to be vig­i­lant about detect­ing water prob­lems with your sens­es and to fre­quent­ly get your water test­ed for issues that can go unno­ticed, but can still be very harm­ful. Call us: (800) 539‑1100