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What is the Black Gunk on My Plumbing Fixtures?

The black gunk, slime, or sludge around your plumbing fixtures is probably not something you want to see in your house. This substance is often smelly, sticky, and gross. Although it is unpleasant to look at, you can rest assured that having black gunk on your fixtures is pretty common. Here is what you need to know about the gunk around your plumbing fixtures.

What is that black gunk on your plumbing fixtures?

What Causes Gunk to Build Up on Plumbing Fixtures?

Black gunk around plumbing fixtures, mostly a combination of iron and manganese, is caused by the water flowing through your faucets. Tap water usually contains dissolved minerals and metals. Two of those metals, iron and manganese, can accumulate on your fixtures, and the bacteria that feed off the accumulated oxidized metals produces a black solution that is sticky, slimy, and sometimes smelly.  

Is the Black Gunk Harmful?

Although it may be harmful to your bathroom’s aesthetic, this black gunk is not considered harmful to your health. Manganese is a naturally occurring metal that can be found in different types of rocks, soils, and sediment. However, manganese and iron can taint your faucet water and negatively affect your water quality. You can easily lower the amount of manganese and iron in your tap water by using a quality filtration system.

How to Get Rid of This Black Slime

Although manganese and iron-eating bacteria are not the only causes for black slime, they are the most common culprits. You can test your water to see if there are iron or manganese-related bacteria in and around your fixtures. If they are present, you can treat the root of the problem. However, it is important to understand that it is nearly impossible to kill all the iron and manganese-related bacteria in your well system. 

One option you have if you’re using a private or shared well is to try shock chlorination. If you are served by a public water system, you can try things like:

  • Ion exchange water softeners
  • Sequesteration
  • Oxidizing filters

Avoid temporary fixes such as replacing the pipes, using toilet bowl cleaner, and treating the area with chemicals. Doing any of these things will only solve the problem for a short period of time, costing you even more money. 

We Can Help

Michael Runk Plumbing and Heating is here to handle all your plumbing needs. As your preferred plumber in Carroll County, we understand how to deal with the black gunk around your plumbing fixtures and any other issues you might have. Contact us now to learn more. 


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