Black Specks in Water? Why and What to Do

Causes of Black Specks in Water and Their Solutions

  • Deteriorating Pipes or Plumbing: Black specks can originate from the deterioration of pipes or plumbing components, especially if the pipes are old or made of materials like iron or galvanized steel.Solution: Consider having a professional plumber inspect and replace deteriorating pipes or components. Upgrading to newer, corrosion-resistant materials like copper or PEX can help prevent future issues.
  • Mineral Deposits: Black specks might be caused by the buildup of minerals, such as manganese or iron, in the water supply. These minerals can oxidize and appear as black particles.Solution: Install a whole-house water filtration system, particularly one with a specialized iron or manganese filter, to remove these minerals from the water.
  • Water Heater Issues: Sediment buildup in a water heater can lead to discolored water and black specks. The sediment can dislodge and flow through the plumbing.Solution: Regularly flush the water heater to remove sediment buildup. If the problem persists, consider professional maintenance or replacement of the water heater.
  • Corroded Plumbing Fixtures: Corroded plumbing fixtures or faucets can release black specks into the water when they deteriorate.Solution: Replace corroded fixtures and faucets with new ones to eliminate the source of contamination.
  • Well Water Contaminants: In homes with well water, the presence of certain contaminants or substances can lead to black specks in the water.Solution: Conduct a comprehensive water quality test to identify the specific contaminants. Install appropriate water treatment systems, such as filters or chemical treatment, to address the issue.
  • Municipal Supply Issues: Occasionally, black specks can result from disturbances or maintenance work in the municipal water supply system, causing sediment or debris to enter the distribution pipes.Solution: Contact your local water utility for information about any ongoing maintenance or supply issues. Allow some time for the issue to resolve naturally.
  • Water Softener Problems: Malfunctioning water softeners can introduce black specks into the water due to resin tank issues or resin breakdown.Solution: Inspect the water softener and consult the manufacturer’s instructions for troubleshooting. If necessary, call a professional for repairs or replacement.
  • Chemical Reactions: Chemical reactions between water and certain plumbing materials can result in black specks. This is more common in older homes with incompatible materials.Solution: Consult a plumber to identify the source of the chemical reaction and replace any problematic components.

Troubleshooting the Black Specks in Water Problem

black specks in water

The first thing you need to ask yourself once you start seining the black specs in your water is whether the problem is affecting both the cold water and the hot water. Another thing you need to determine is if it is affecting only one fixture or all the fixtures in your house.

1. Black Specks in Hot Water

If the black specs are only on the hot water line, the problem is most likely your water heater. Your water heater has a lot of sediment which sit at the bottom of the tank. When agitated, the particles can rise up and flow out of the tank through your hot water supply pipe.

A corroded water heater can also be the source of the black specs in your water. Although most of the time the rust particles are brown, they could also be black.

A water heater tank has a sacrificial anode rod that reacts with elements in the water. In the process, the anode rod wears out and a replacement would then be needed.

If the anode rod is not replaced, the elements in the water will start reacting with the inner lining of the tank thereby exposing the steel to corrosion. This could be the source of the black specs in the water. More on water heater anode replacement here.

You are also advised to flush your water heater at least once per year. This helps to remove most of the sediment. Failure to flush your water heater will lead to a buildup of sediment in the tank and when agitated by incoming cold water could cause them to move up and flow out through the hot water pipe.

Another common culprit of black specks in your hot water is the hot water supply pipe from the water heater. If you have a stainless steel flexible hose pipe carrying water out of the water heater, the inner lining of the hose which is made of rubber could be disintegrating and hence the black specks.

If your water heater has these flexible hoses instead of the solid copper pipes, I would suggest that you replace them. These are really cheap and easy to replace.

Another thing you can try to do is flush out the water heater. I have written a detailed post on how to flush sediment out of a water heater. Read it here.

If your water heater is 10 or even more years old, you will need to replace it. I have written a post explaining the signs that show your water heater needs to be replaced. Read it here.

2. Black Specks in Toilet Bowl

Black specks/spots in toilet bowl could be cause by rubber parts deterioration, minerals deposits or even mold. If you rarely use the toilet or the black spots are above the waterline, it is most likely mold.

To get rid of the mold, flush the try and try to force as much water as possible out of the bowl using a plunger. Pour 2 cups of vinegar in the bowl and add a cup of baking soda or half a cup borax.

Swish the solution around the bowl with a toilet brush. Wait for a few hours while frequently swishing the solution around to keep the bowl wet. Scrub the bowl with the toilet brush and removing all the black spots.

If the black specks are at the bottom of the toilet bowl, they could be caused by minerals deposits especially manganese. To fix these problem you will need to investigate the source of the minerals deposits. It will also depend on whether you use water from a well or from the city municipal.

Another thing to remember is that your toilet has a lot of rubber parts inside the tank. The toilet float, flapper and other parts could start disintegrating and the specs will find their way into the toilet bowl.

You toilet also has a flexible water supply hose at the back. Although the exterior of the hose is made of braided stainless steel, the interior is made of rubber. The black rubber will after continued usage start breaking down and the specs will find their way into the toilet bowl.

A toilet water supply pipe is cheap and easy to install.

3. Black Specks in Specific Faucets

If the black specks are only in your kitchen or bathroom faucet (or any other faucet), it could be that the rubber in the water supply pipes is disintegrating. If you check under your kitchen or bathroom sink, you will see 2 hoses that bring hot and cold water to the faucet.

If the black specks appear with the cold water, it is the cold water pipe’s rubber that is flaking off. On the other hand if the black spots appear when you turn on the jot water but they do not appear in your shower or tub, the faucet hot water supply pipe is the problem.

Again, these hoses are cheap and easy to replace. I would advise that you replace both hoses at the same time.

If the black specks only appear on faucets with a filter, those could be particles from a granular activated carbon filter. In this case, replacing the filter will fix the problem.

4. Black Spots in Water from a Well

If you use water from a well and you start seeing black particles in the water, it could be sand or silt. Sand or silt particles will cause wearing out of appliances (dishwashers and washing machines) and clog most of them especially faucets, shower heads and toilet fill valves.

The solutions for such a problem are many and will vary from well to well. The best thing would be to contact a professional in water drilling to troubleshoot and give you the best solution for your well.

5. Old Galvanized Pipes

Old galvanized pipes (which are not used in modern plumbing) could be corroded and flaking off as water flows through them. It is not easy to determine if this is the problem on your own and I would advise that you work with a license plumber.

Replacing house piping is an expensive undertaking and you want to be sure if indeed that is where the problem is coming from. I have written a detailed article on why you should replace galvanized steel pipes. Find it here.

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