Many people will contact us about iron stains from their well water left on their bathtubs, showers, toilets and sinks. This iron can also discolor laundered clothing after time. There are several very good methods for removing iron from your water. There is a simple Birm filter if certain conditions of the water can be met, such as a high pH level and no presence of hydrogen sulfide gas. Then there is the Greensand filter method which not only removes iron, but it takes care of manganese and hydrogen sulfide gas. Chlorination will oxidize iron out when combined with a carbon filter. The Terminator iron systems use a 3 stage action which injects air into the water, then bleeds off the air and any gases then finally filters out the now oxidized iron particles. Finally – and without doubt the best method for treating iron – the Sentry I Open Air systems can handle very bad water with very satisfying results.
So customers will choose one of these iron systems, install it and see the huge improvement in their water quality. The stains are gone from the laundry, sinks, tubs and showers too! But they end up calling to complain that their toillet still has a black or gray or even reddish-pink stain around the bowel only a few days after cleaning it. Well, it’s not just the well water customers that call about this type of staining, it’s also the city water customers. Naturally, the first thing one would think if there is a reoccurring stain in their freshly cleaned toilet, that something must be wrong with the water. But after some investigation, we found that this stain is not caused by anything in the water. Rather it is introduced into the toilet through the air.
These stains are caused by an airborne spore. The name of the spore is known by some in the scientific community, but it is unknown to me. Suffice to say that it is hard to pronounce and comes in various strains, which would explain why the colors of the growth can be varied. It is microscopic, floats in the air, and the waterline in a clean toilet is the perfect place for it to settle and grow. Actually, bad water will help to keep it away. Once you’ve solved a bad water problem such as iron, this mold will grow more quickly due to the fresh, clean water. There is no known method to preventing this spore from seeking out and finding the ideal living conditions in a toilet.
Before I go on, I should point out that this experiment I’m about to mention is not very scientific. It’s just that these calls were bothering us and upon reading some material, we decided to give this excersize a try. One of our houses has 2 bathrooms, both with the dark stains around the water lines of the toilets. This water is highly treated as you can imagine, being a water treatment equipment professional’s home. So we decided this would be worth a try. First, we cleaned both toilets at the same time. We then sealed off the bowel of one of the toilets (the one not used very often) with common plastic wrap, stretched and tied in place. The idea here was to make that bowl air tight. After only a few days, the uncovered toilet bowl started showing signs of this growth at the water line. The sealed toilet did not. After one week, the open toilet was looking pretty bad. The sealed toilet showed no signs of staining. Okay, this was not a laboratory and nothing was officially documented, but the experiment satisfied us enough to be able to say with confidence that the stains in this case were probably cause by something in the air.
The point of this message is to simply help lay to rest the beleif that not everything that causes stains in toilet bowl water lines is iron, or even something in the water. There is a very good chance that if you have treated your water for iron/rust stains and your other plumbing fixtures have cleaned up while the toilet still produces stains, it’s probably these spores that are the cause.