Why is My Water Leaving Red Stains?

A red stain from water in a sink

Cleaning the bathroom is no one’s favorite task. What doesn’t help is opening the toilet or moving the shower curtain to discover reddish brown stains from water all over the porcelain. What’s more, many cleaning products can’t remove the stains, and scrubbing harder often only makes them worse!

So, what’s a homeowner to do with water leaving red stains behind? The good news is, there are ways to make the stains go away!

Keep reading to learn:

  • What causes red stains from water
  • The problems these stains can create
  • And how to get rid of them

The Causes of Reddish-Brown Stains from Water

The most likely cause of red stains is a high concentration of iron in the water. Iron makes up a large percentage of the earth’s crust. So, it’s no surprise that as water flows through the earth, it collects a lot of iron. Studies show that water with an iron concentration higher than 0.3 parts per million (ppm) causes red staining.

Another common element that can create these stains is manganese. Over 0.05 ppm of manganese in water typically results in staining. The difference between stains left behind by manganese and those left behind by iron is that the manganese stains tend to be on the browner side while iron stains are brighter red.

If your home has well water, then there’s a good chance that either too much iron, too much manganese or both are causing the stains. After all, well water does not receive any municipal treatment. So, those elements typically found in the earth are often found in your tap water.

Even though it comes pre-treated, city water can also leave behind red stains. This is because the water often collects iron from old pipes as it flows into the home.

These red stains can blindside homeowners because the water causing them often looks crystal clear as it flows from the tap. It only turns reddish brown once it has been exposed to oxygen. Thus, the stains grow over time as excess water sits in the sink, toilet or tub.

The Problems These Stains Can Create

Beyond creating unsightly red stains in tubs, toilets, showers and sinks, iron and manganese can also cause many other headaches for homeowners. Here are just a few examples of the problems they can cause:

And while these elements typically don’t cause any serious health problems, drinking water with too much manganese can sometimes cause upset stomach and diarrhea. And long-term overexposure to manganese could lead to issues with memory, attention and motor skills.

Graphic illustrating the problems caused by iron and manganese in water, including red stains

How to Get Rid of Red Stains from Water

If you can’t get rid of the stains with typical bathroom cleaning products, there are many alternative home remedies you can try. For example, applying white vinegar or lemon juice typically works on newer stains. You can also try mixing white vinegar and baking soda if you need a stronger scrub. For older stains, using an industrial-strength cleaner like CLR should do the trick.

Of course, it’s one thing to clean off the stains, but how do you keep them gone? The key to preventing your water from leaving the stains (and causing the problems listed above) is investing in the right water treatment equipment.

But how do you know what water treatment equipment you need? The first step is to get your water tested at an EPA-certified water testing facility. The test will determine exactly what’s causing the problem, whether it’s too much iron, too much manganese or some other contaminant.

Once you know what you’re dealing with, you should consult a water treatment expert to determine the right system for your situation. For homes with well water, that solution may be a chlorine injection system, which can effectively neutralize iron, manganese and many other contaminants. Homes with city water may benefit from a whole house water filter to keep iron and manganese away from every faucet in the home.

Whatever system you choose, a licensed plumber will be able to install and maintain it for you for long-term success. So, you can say goodbye to red stains from water and hello to better tasting and smelling water!

Need Help Getting Rid of Your Red Stains?

As you can see, getting rid of red stains from water for good is possible! It just takes some action on your part to get the ball rolling.

If you need help with any of the steps described above, Angel Water is here for you! We can help you diagnose what’s causing your stains with EPA-certified water testing. Our water treatment specialists can then help you choose the perfect treatment system from our wide selection of quality water filters. And once you’ve made your choice, our licensed plumbers would be happy to install it properly for you!

Our goal is to provide healthier water for Barrington, IL, and the greater Chicagoland region. Give us a call today at 847-382-7800 or fill out the form below to talk to an expert and schedule a free consultation!

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