Tap water often quite dark and with a strong chemical smell - what to do? Answered
I don't ask for much help but this time I am reaching the end of my knowledge and patience with landlord and water authorities.
That's the story so far:
When I moved in I did the usual checks and tests but of course did not pay too much attention to what comes out of my taps.
After a few weeks I noticed that the drain in bathroom sink seems to rust on the enamel....
Easy wipe with some cleaner fixed it but since the actual drain is made of brass I started to wonder what caused the discoloration in the first place.
A bit later I had my niece here and while she had a shower I realised that I only get very little hot water from any other tap in the house.
Landlord stated that no one would need hot water from two outlets at one and refused to have it checked out - WTF??
Paid for plumber myself and the result was not good.
The hot water system is connected "open" was his answer after half an hour of messing around.
For the lame man it means that whenever there is a pressure difference between hot and cold water it will go through the hot water system.
Did not fully get this so he showed me in the laundry.
Open the hot water a bit and it runs out fine, open the seperate cold water tap and the hot water stops.
This even worked when turning on the cold water in the kitchen.
The water is able to go back into the hot water system through the outlet much easier than through the inlet side.
And to top it off, the current install basically turns the hot water system into a giant bypass valve :(
Paid a few bucks extra so I would get that same explanation in writing for my landlord a few days later.
The next and growing problem is the chemical smell.
If highly chlorinated then my aquarium test kit would show this and recommend to use a water conditioner when using tap water to top the tank up.
And it does not really smell like any chlorinated water I know.
Definately a chemical cleaning or sanitation smell though.
The plumber could not do more than basic tests so I contacted my water supplier.
To my surprise they were happy to send someone out for free.
Of course they only cared about their product and all tests were limited to the tap right next to the water meter.
Water clearity ok.
Chlorine levels next to zero.
"Harmful substances test" came back negative as well.
It was recommended that I have the plumbing under the house inspected for the water color changes and smells/bad taste.
And I had to admit that what came out of the front tap really looked and smelled fine.
Work slowed me down for a while and the problem only came back to my mind when I came back from a weekend trip.
Needed something to drink quickly so I filled a glass from the tap.
It came out like from a rusty bucket.
Definately of brownish color and the chemical smell worse then ever.
Had to let the water run for about 15 minutes to get something out I dared to drink.
Installed a water filter a few days later and though all is good now.
Pre-filter, 0.5 micron filter and then a cartridge with activate carbon.
Am a single and the unit was meant to be for a busy family.
Should have been good for well over 5000 liters of water.
I don't really use much in the kitchen for drinking and cooking purposes so I guesstimated I need new filters every 12 to 18 months at worst.
They lasted less than 4 weeks before the water came out in drops instead or running....
Cutting the fliters open revealed that both pre- and fine filter were fully blocked and brown.
Provided all documents and evidence to my landlord but again was told there is no issue and the house is just old :(
As a last resort I tried to get under house yesterday to check the pipes itself.
Couldn't get all the way in due to all the pipes from the ducted heating system.
But I found a bad mess of literally all bad plumbing skills.
From the water meter a just finger thick copper pipe goes under the house.
This goes into some 1/2" galvanised steel pipe and it look the main way of sealing the connection was some glue or resin around the screw fitting.
The same old gal but thinner pipes go close to where the connections for water go.
There the "plumber" again used screw on press fittings and glue to connect to thin copper pipes.
Hot water is designed the same way, one big gal pipe straight through and then thin copper pipes connected to it.
I am not a plumbing expert but I do know that copper and steel won't mix if water is involved.
Assuming the hot water system is affected in the same way then this giant battery is eating away the thick gal pipes while supplying me with all the byproducts of this galvanic reaction.
The landlord won't budge unless I take legal action and around here you would want to do this as a tennant.
Right now I have a long garden hose from the front tap going through my kitchen window :(
At least I get usable drinking and cooking water this way, my fish no loger suffer losses after the topping up the water from this hose either...
But this can't go on like this.
Once the gal pipes start to leak the landlord is required to act but not before that.
And chances are these thick pipes will last a few more years before failing :(
If i wouldn't know better then I would say at some stage the ducted heating was replaced and to have more room all but the main gal pipes were removed.
All copper pipes are the flexible ones and are bend to follow the floor and wooden beams.
What are my real life options to fix this water problem?
A set of filters ever 4 or 6 weeks sets me back close to 120 bucks each time, hence the garden hose :(
What sort of tests can I make to determine what is actually created in my water that causes the smell, taste and discoloration?
By the way: a simple rust test available to check for corroded steel pipes only shows traces of rust even if the water is of a slight brownish color.
Replacing the piping myself is not just far over my budget but also not allowed for a tenant.
And somehow I still wonder if there is more hiding in the walls but could not get close enough to see if the opper pipes actually connect to the taps or just another piece of old steel pipe.
Apart from the obvious, what are the dangers of having steel and copper pipes mixed like this for my health?