Orange or brown stains found in sinks, tubs, and toilets are caused by the presence of iron and/or manganese in the water. The pictures below illustrate what can happen to fixtures exposed to moderate to high levels of iron.
Orange or brown stains found on laundry are often a result of iron and/or manganese in the water. The use of bleach on a load of whites will make the problem worse by oxidizing the iron and turning whole load of laundry brown. Hard water will make clothes look dingy and faded.
Altered hair color
Altered hair color is an indication of either iron or manganese in the water, or a low ph. The most common complaint is for blonde hair to turn orange from iron or take on a blue or green tinge due to a low ph. Hair can also look dull and lifeless due to hard water and the build-up of hair products that are unable to rinse out with hard water.
Poor tasting water
A metallic taste is associated with the presence of minerals such as iron and manganese. Water with a low ph can have a bitter taste. Other factors, such as hydrogen sulfide and iron bacteria, will adversely affect taste.
Noticeable film residue
Noticeable films on bathtubs, showers, and even on skin. The film results in the need for additional scrubbing and scouring of fixtures, causes hair to be dull and limp, and can also cause dry skin.
Sulfur-like or “rotten egg” odor is the most offensive and objectionable type of odor and is typically a result of iron bacteria or hydrogen sulfide (sulfur) present in the water. The presence of iron can cause a metallic odor, whereas manganese can be detected as a “rotten egg” or foul odor. Odor can also appear as a “swampy” or “musty” smell, most often caused by iron bacteria.
Clogged pipes and/or appliances
Clogged pipes and appliances reduce water flow and efficiency, and oftentimes lead to an increase in repair service calls. Iron, colloidal iron, and iron bacteria can also clog pipes. The picture below illustrates how iron can solidify within the pipe, dramatically impeding the water flow. The solution in this case is to replace the affected plumbing and install a water treatment system to prevent a re-occurrence of this type of damage.
Iron and iron bacteria sludge can also clog the well line entering the house. Well pumps operating in these types of conditions have to work harder to pump and have a lower life expectancy.
Toilet reservoir residue
The presence of iron or iron bacteria will cause an orange or black slime on the interior walls of the toilet reservoir. Iron bacteria will also cause an oil slick found on the surface of the water.