Pink or red water and stains around plumbing fixtures can be caused by several agents. Rust or other mineral deposits that have been dislodged within the pipe could be the culprit. In a swimming pool or in homes where filters remove chlorine, the cause could be bacteria. Some of these situations are harmless while others need corrective action.
If you take care of your pool and watch the balance of chemicals carefully, you shouldn't see any discolored or cloudy water. The appearance of red or pink water could be bacteria. Check the levels of chlorine in your pool and see if adjusting it doesn't make a difference. If the stained water continues, check your pipes. Iron or copper pipes may corrode and cause discolorations or stains. If two different metals are connecting to each other, such as a copper pipe with an aluminum fitting, you may be able to use an ionization system to help control the discharge of staining ions into the water. You also can check your source water to see if you can filter out some deposits before they ever reach the pool.
A red, pink or rust colored stain around pipes may be the result of iron bacteria. As water passes through the water system and into your pipes, it carries certain iron bacteria that can stain fixtures, cause the water to taste or smell strange, and eventually clog up pipes and pumps. There is little chance that this type of bacteria poses a health risk, but you should contact your local water company to report the situation and ask for advice. A home filtration system may help control this bacteria.
If the pink or red stains look more like a slime and are frequent in toilet bowls, around showers and bathtubs and even in pet water dishes, you may have a bacteria called Serratia marcescens. It is a bacteria found in most environments but it breeds well in moist areas that also contain phosphorous or fatty substances. Once the bacteria occurs, it needs to be treated but will likely recur. To treat it, wash all affected areas with a scrub brush and disinfecting cleanser. Follow up with chlorine bleach, which you leave in place for 10 to 20 minutes before rinsing thoroughly.
Well water is not regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the federal agency that monitors public water systems. If you have pink or red stains and you use a private well, you should have the water tested to make sure it is safe to continue using.
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