You’re never supposed to have black stuff in the water you get out of your home’s tap. Water from your home tap is supposed to be crystal clear without any visible contaminants (and hopefully as few invisible contaminants as possible).
If you turn on a water source and see black specks in hot water or black specks in cold water, there’s a problem present that needs to be investigated. If you’re wondering what causes black stuff in your water, then keep reading because we’ve laid out 7 reasons why you may have black stuff in water at home as well as solutions to each of these problems.
1. Decaying Rubber Gaskets or Washers
Problem: If you find black stuff in your water coming from the tap in your home, this may be the result of decaying rubber gaskets or washers. Check the black specks to see if they’re at all rubbery.
If the black stuff is rubbery, then it’s likely that a decaying washer or gasket is the source of the issue. Rubber washers, gaskets, and even supply hoses are there to help make your plumbing water-tight and leak-proof. Over time, however, they can break down or come loose and will need to be replaced.
Solution: To solve this problem, check all your water sources—showers and sinks—to see if there are black specks everywhere or just in one faucet. If the black specks are only coming out of one faucet, unscrew the head to check if the washer inside is decaying. Replace the washer and the faucet head, then see if the black stuff stops.
If there is black stuff in the water that comes from many faucets in your home, then you have a more serious issue at hand. You may have decaying supply hoses or many worn-down washers and gaskets. Consult a professional in this case for the best solution to your problem.
2. Rusting Hot Water Tank
Problem: If the black stuff in your water wasn’t due to pipe corrosion, it could be due to a corroded hot water heater. This is especially possible if you keep finding black specks in hot water but not the cold. The water can also appear rusty. In this case, check your hot water heater immediately.
The average lifespan for most hot water heater tanks is about 10-12 years—15 if you’re lucky and have been taking great care of your unit. If you know your unit is old and hasn’t been maintained in a while, then you find black specks in hot water, it’s likely that your hot water heater is to blame.
Solution: To solve this problem, you’ll likely need to replace your hot water heater altogether. If your hot water heater is new, it’s possible that you might be able to drain it and flush the lines, but in most cases, a replacement is necessary.
Contact your plumbing professional for advice on your corroded hot water heater.
3. Iron or Manganese Deposits
Problem: A somewhat harmless possibility for why you’re finding black specks in your water is mineral deposits. Trace amounts of iron or manganese can build up in your water supply, and while there is a filtration system in your plumbing to keep these deposits out, sometimes they make their way through.
Thankfully, mineral deposits typically aren’t harmful or toxic, so there’s nothing huge to be worried about in this scenario.
Solution: While the appearance of black specks in your water can be unpleasant, small traces of minerals aren't harmful to your health. However, it’s important to have the water tested to make sure the mineral levels are safe. Consult a professional plumber about additional filtration options to keep your water crystal clear.
4. Corroding Pipes
Problem: If you find black specks in hot or cold water coming from your home’s faucets, it could be due to a corroded pipe (or multiple pipes). This is more likely if your home is on the older side and hasn’t had its plumbing updated in a while.
Black specks in your water can be a clear warning that the insides of your home’s pipes are wearing away. As the corrosion flakes off, the black specks make their way into your water supply. You should stop using the water until you get the issue fixed.
Solution: Corrosion in your piping is a serious issue, so if you find black stuff in water coming from your home’s faucets, stop using it and don’t drink it, as there’s a risk of lead getting into your plumbing supply. At any sign of pipe corrosion, call your plumber to help get an idea of how much of your plumbing is compromised.
It could be that you only need partial repiping, but if the corroded pipes have created any leaks or if the issue is widespread, it could be a substantial repair. Get the issue fixed as quickly as possible to protect the health of you and your family and to prevent additional damage to your home.
5. Silt or Sand
Problem: If your home draws its water from a private well, it’s possible for trace amounts of sand or silt to make their way in. These tiny particles can be pumped in along with the water taken from the ground. While they aren’t typically harmful to drink in small quantities, they can be annoying, gritty, and damage your appliances.
Solution: To solve this problem, you’ll likely need to improve the filtration on your plumbing system. While your system likely has a filter already, you’ll need something designed to remove tiny sediments like sand and silt from your water if it continues to be a problem.
6. Granular Activated Carbon Particles
Problem: Carbon filters are a common means of water filtration. Any filter with granular activated carbon (GAC) has been proven to help remove certain chemicals from your water and keep your water safer for drinking and bathing.
GAC filters work by removing certain chemicals—especially organic chemicals—that have been dissolved in water by forcing everything through a filter armed with GAC. This “trap” allows the GAC to absorb the chemicals and keep your water pure.
If used past their recommended duration, however, you can end up with particles from a GAC filter in your water that look somewhat like coffee grounds.
Solution: To solve this problem, try replacing the filter. If you’re not sure how or if you don’t like the idea of finding granular activated carbon particles in your water ever again, consult with a professional to discuss other means of water filtration for your home.
7. Supply Hoses Connecting Plumbing
Problem: Similar to the way rubber gaskets and washers break down over time, your home’s supply hoses that connect to your plumbing can do the same thing. The black stuff in water can end up being decaying pieces of a supply hose.
Solution: While the decaying rubber gaskets and decaying supply hoses are similar, decaying supply hoses are a much more serious job that will require a professional plumber to fix. Don’t attempt to solve decaying supply hoses on your own, as you could end up causing far more harm than good. Call in a plumber you trust to handle the job.
Contact the Plumbers at John C. Flood
A safe rule of thumb to follow when you see black stuff in your water is to stop drinking it and call your plumber to get the issue inspected and resolved as quickly as possible. It’s crucial that your home’s drinking and bathing water is clean, and our expert team at John C. Flood can provide the professional plumbing services needed to keep you safe. Schedule a service with us online.