Discolored water coming from any faucet isn’t normal and should raise alarm bells. Many people experience brown water from their faucet, but black water from your faucet can also be quite common.
Black water looks disgusting and might make you think there's a strange creature living in your pipes, but it isn't as bad as it seems. This guide will help explain what black water is, the leading causes, and what you can do about it.
Black water is more common than you might think and is caused by the build-up of minerals and materials that shouldn’t be in your water supply. A number of factors can contribute to this:
Old Filter System
Filtration systems are used to remove impurities from your water before it reaches your faucet. Older filter systems aren’t as effective as modern ones, and this can lead to impurities in your water supply, leading to black water.
Old pipes can develop rust over time. This can start to gather in the water supply, and metallic minerals will discolor the water coming from your faucet. Generally, this isn't toxic but does need to be dealt with.
Mineral deposits, particularly magnesium, manganese or iron, can accumulate over time. These occur naturally in water, but when exposed to oxygen in high enough quantities, it can turn your water black. This is the most common reason for black water.
Sand or Clay Particles
A build-up of sand, silt, or clay particles is most common in private water supplies (like wells) but can happen in ordinary pipes. This will discolor the water but can also damage the pipes themselves if left untreated.
Water damage in your pipes can lead to mold and mildew building up over time. This can discolor your water and make it black. Mold and mildew will travel quickly, and it can spread into your home if left untreated.
Steel or galvanized piping
Older pipes laid in the 50s and 60s primarily used steel. Steel pipes can rust, and this can lead to discoloration of your water. This is less common in larger cities, but in some smaller towns and villages, old piping isn't replaced as frequently, so it's more of an issue.
Defective Water softener
A water softener uses resin beads to treat hard water. These beads are black, and if the softener is defective, it can break down in the water and it turns black.
Construction Work in your area
When construction work is being done in your area, they may turn off the water supply. When the water is switched on again, you'll find that the residue from the pipes may be flushed through your faucet, causing black water to flow from your faucet.
Issues with your water heater
Black water can be caused by your water heater if there’s any corrosion within it. This generally happens if water heaters are older and can be prevented by flushing the system regularly.
The Dangers Of Black Water
Black water isn’t always dangerous, but it can be extremely hazardous. It can impact your health, the health of your pets, and actually damage your plumbing system if not treated properly. Here are some of the main dangers:
Mold And Mildew
Leaks, cracks, and issues with your plumbing can lead to the build-up of mold and mildew in your pipes and home. This can damage your furniture and your home if left untreated and may lead to widespread damage. Mold and mildew can also release spores and impact your respiratory system.
Promotes Growth of Dangerous Fungi
Black water can have a lot of bacteria within it that can eventually lead to the growth of dangerous fungi, like penicillium, within your pipes. These can release toxins themselves which can harm your respiratory system, potentially leading to long-term illness. Fungi can also grow on furniture or in your home wherever the black water ends up going.
Black water can contain high levels of bacteria. This can result in diseases or infections for all humans or pets who drink the water. Some of these can severely impact your digestive system, and black water can cause E.coli. Endotoxins from the bacteria can be released into the air and cause long-term health impacts.
How To Fix Black Water Coming Out Of Faucets
Removing black water isn’t totally straightforward, but the solution will largely depend on the cause of the issue. Here are a few steps you should follow to try and remove black water:
1. Let the water run
Often, black water will run clear after a while if it's just been caused by a build-up of minerals or residue and nothing more sinister. Run the faucet on cold for 15 to 20 minutes and see if it goes clear.
2. Install a sediment filter
Sand and clay are common causes of black water in your faucet, but you can prevent this by installing a sediment filter in your home. This removes impurities from your water supply and will prevent any discolored water from coming from your pipes.
3. Perform a chemical test
The leading cause for black water is an excess of manganese in the water supply. You can buy inexpensive chemical kits and carry out a test at home to understand which substances might be causing the black water. If you do find there is an excess of manganese, you should consider installing home filters to remove it.
4. Test the water heater
Check to see if your water heater is causing black water by running the cold tap and then the hot tap. If it's only coming when the faucet is running hot, then you may have an issue with your water heater. You should try flushing the system or getting a professional to look over it.
5. Consult a professional
If none of the above work, then you need to consult a professional. You could have a bigger problem with your pipes, or there could be something else happening you can't fix yourself. Black water isn’t always toxic, but it isn't pleasant and needs to be dealt with, so it's worth bringing in a plumber to sort the issue.
Why Call In The Experts?
Black water is no joke and can cause some serious illnesses. It needs to be handled properly, not just to deal with the problem, but to safely remove the black water and deal with the damage. Expert restoration companies and plumbers will have experience dealing with black water and can help.
Experts will find the source of the problem quickly, look for damage to pipes and figure out why you have black water. They'll then be able to remedy the situation and remove all black water safely, using dehumidifiers to dry the area. Finally, they will sanitize your home and dispose of anything that needs to be removed.
Restoration companies are the safest way to go if you have a serious black water problem.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Can black water make you sick?
Yes, black water can contain dangerous bacteria that, if ingested, can harm your digestive system. It can also have a long-term health impact on your respiratory system
Can we drink black water?
No, you shouldn’t drink black water. Not all black water is toxic, but it can be extremely harmful due to the bacteria within it.
Can black mold grow in faucets? What happens if you drink water with black mold?
Yes, mold can grow in faucets, and you'll be able to see black particles in your drinking water. Black mold will probably be harmless in small quantities, but it can be hazardous because of the bacteria within it. You may feel sick if you drink it; if that is the case, you should contact a medical professional immediately.
Black water is something you need to take seriously, but you can only deal with it once you know why it’s happening. This guide has hopefully given you all the information you need to understand why black water is coming from your kitchen or bathroom faucet and what you need to do to solve the issue.
Caitlin Shaffer has been traveling & working as a content writer & SCUBA dive instructor since 2014. Having lived in Central & South America, Southeast Asia, India, & Australia, Caitlin has had many years of experience with a variety of kitchen, bathroom, plumbing systems & common household products. Other than writing about her plumbing experiences & knowledge, her main passions are yoga, ocean conservation, & sustainable development.