Most homeowners in high humidity areas are aware that mold is a risk, and that any amount of flooding or water damage can make it possible for mold to grow in your walls, under your furniture, and in damp piles of laundry. You may have fought mold trying to grow on the bathroom grout just because it’s always a little damp in your bathroom. Or noticed mold grows all too readily on any bread kept in the house.
But did you know that mold can grow inside your home’s water pipes? While not the most commonplace for mold to grow, it is possible and happens frequently enough that every homeowner should be on the lookout.
Mold in My Pipes? How?
It’s a surprising concept, we know. Most people think of your pipes as basically a sealed system through which clean, relatively safe water flows. Water you’re comfortable bathing in, cooking with, and occasionally drinking straight from the tap. And most of the time, you’d be right. Water pipes generally don’t have enough oxygen or organic material for mold to eat and grow, but that’s not always true.
If the water in your pipes is oxygen-rich enough and if there is some kind of organic substance like, say, a paper filter along the route then that is all simple mold spores need to start growing a colony. Right inside a home’s water system. Depending on how the mold got in and how deep it has access to food and oxygen, the mold can then infest every aspect of your home’s water system including water storage tanks, water softening system, taps, and water-running appliances.
Well Water Increases the Chance of Mold in Your Taps
Mold can grow in taps that run from well water or municipal water, but it’s more likely if your home pumps your water from a well. If the well-cap is loose, removed, or damaged then both mold spores and the organic materials it lives off of can get into the deep water system. And many simple filters do not successfully stop the spores from spreading.
Signs There is Mold in Your Water Lines or Tap Water
1. Sour or Moldy Smell When You Run the Water
Usually, the first way a family notices there is mold running through their tap or fridge water is the eerie sour smell when you turn on the water. Water should smell like nothing, or sometimes like a vaguely metallic smell if your water has been sitting in the pipes for a long time. You may be able to determine how deep the mold goes by leaving the water running to see how long the smell persists.
If you smell mold when you turn on the water, it’s time to start looking for the other signs and symptoms. And to test the safety quality of your water for mold and the organic contaminants that the mold must be living off of.
2. Mold Growth on Pipes and Appliance Fixtures
Another sign that mold is living inside the pipes themselves is a surprising amount of mold growth on your plumbing and appliance fixtures, particularly near the valves and faucets. mold usually prefers to live on organic or porous substances like the inside of drywall or fabric. So mold growing on metal means there is so much mold and mold-food that it has stopped caring that metal is a hard, shiny surface.
3. Mold Growing Throughout the Home
When mold is in your tap water, you can bet it is also everywhere else in the home. Mold thriving in tap water gets into everything. After all, you clean with that water. You scrub your counters, mop your floors, and run your laundry and dishes with water that may well be moldy from one end of the house to the other. Watch out for signs of rampant mold growth like bread molding too quickly, laundry constantly going sour, or an air test result that reports a very high mold spore count.
4. Appearance of “Growing Dirt” Around Your Toilet and Inside the Tank
Look inside and around your toilet where water sits all the time. Inside the toilet bowl and tank are places that mold generally doesn’t prefer, but it will grow if there is enough food for mold in the water itself. If you open the toilet tank and see or smell mold, that’s a problem. If you see dirt-like growths in the toilet bowl or around the toilet base, this is a likely sign that there is mold in the water running to the toilet.
5. Strong Smell of Mold When You Open Household Water Tanks
If you have water tanks in your home, check them. These sitting tanks of cool water often used as cisterns in case of a water failure or to supplement a well pump’s limited production ability, will also be sitting full of mold if there is mold growing in the water. If you open these tanks and get an overwhelming whiff of that sour musty odor, then there is likely mold all the way through your home’s plumbing and infesting every other aspect of the home as it becomes airborne.
6. Hair Smells of Mold After a Shower
One of the biggest problems with contaminated tap water is that you bathe with it. You don’t really have a choice, because you’ve got to shower and tap water is the tool you have. If you can’t escape that faintly sour smell, sniff your hair or ask a household member to sniff your hair. Those locks might just be full of little spores. Just like laundry left damp for too long.
7. Increasing Family Health Problems from Drinking Mold-Infested Water
And if moldy hair isn’t disturbing enough, consider whether your family has had increasing health problems since moving to this house or the first time you smelled mustiness from the taps. Increased headaches, nausea, and hard-to-identify illnesses are often associated with mold toxicity, and those symptoms are usually just from inhaling spores in the air. If you have been drinking mold-contaminated water, these symptoms can become more severe and more dangerous.
—If there is mold in your tap water, this means there is mold inside your pipes and likely in many other places in your home as well. Your best first step, other than investing in a zero water filter and drinking filtered water for a while, is to get those pipes repaired. Chances are, the mold is also causing water pressure or drain problems (depending on which pipes are growing mold) and older pipes may need replacement to fully remedy the problem.
Appliance repair service can often help you find the source of mold growth and replace moldy sections of the water line or pipe. However, you will also want to take remediation steps and investigate deeper into your plumbing to ensure your family and home water are free of mold growth. For more insights into home maintenance and repair, contact us today!