Pink (or green) rings in toilet

Toilet Ring
Toilet Ring

Q.  I recall a column that talked about pink rings in toilet bowls and a potential problem with acidic water eating away at my pipes. I wondered if you had an opinion on what the acceptable range for tap water pH should be. I have made some inquiries and am hearing that 6.5 to 8.5 is an acceptable range. Should I invest in a neutralizer if my pH is below 6.5 or does it need to be less than that to justify the expense?

A.  The ideal and neutral pH is 7. A pH of 6.5 is quite acidic. The fact that you have pink rings in your toilet (usually the rings are more greenish, although another reader recently described them as blue) seems to indicate that you need to have your water checked by a water specialist.

Blue (or green) water may corrode pipes

Q.  I have a well, and the water that comes into our toilet is blue.  The water in my bathtub is also blue, and it is hard to clean. Can you tell me why we have blue water? I have copper pipes.

A.  It sounds like you have acidic water — with a very low pH, although the color is generally greenish. The water is eating the copper pipes. If nothing is done about it, the copper pipes may eventually leak. You should have a water specialist test your water and recommend a treatment to bring the pH to a more normal 7. If you don’t, you may end up with a very expensive pipe replacement.

Hard water causes multiple problems

Q.  I have very difficult calcium rings in my three toilet bowls. My glass shower doors have stains on them. The inside of my dishwasher is stainless steel and has the same problem — it’s covered with a white powder surface after the dishes are dried. Even my drinking glasses have to be rewashed by hand since they turn milky. No matter how much I wash and scrub, the problem is still there.

In your column you have mentioned muriatic acid, but I looked it up and frankly I am afraid to use it since it could be very dangerous to use. Can you please suggest something less dangerous that will take care of this lime scale problem?

A.  Of the problems you list, muriatic acid would be appropriate only for the removal of calcium rings in toilets, and that must be done by very carefully pouring a cup of the acid in the bowls and letting it stand for a couple hours before brushing the rings and flushing the toilet.

But you can also remove the calcium rings in the toilets with one of the toilet cleaners available in the cleaning aisle of your supermarket. Your shower doors, glasses and dishwasher can be cleaned with white vinegar or a lemon-based cleaner. Adding vinegar to each dishwasher load should also help to overcome the scaling on your dishes.

But it sounds as if you need to have your water tested and a conditioning system installed to take care of the variety of problems. To find firms doing this work in your area, check your Yellow Pages or the Internet under a heading such as “Water Softening & Conditioning Equipment, Service & Supplies.”

Acidic water erodes copper pipe

Q.    My wife and I bought a 40-year-old house nearly three years ago. In the basement, above a finished ceiling we had to have a plumber fix a pinhole leak in a copper pipe. It was not at a joint or a bend.

We have just discovered a second occurrence of this problem (in a different pipe). Nothing is coming in contact with the pipe at the point of the leaks. There appears to be a small reddish stain around this most recent pin hole. I’ve never heard of problems with copper pipes leaking like this. Do you have any insight as to what could be causing these leaks?

A.    It sounds very much as if your water has low pH (below the neutral reading of 7); in other words, your water is acidic and it has eaten the copper pipes over 40 years. This usually occurs on horizontal pipe runs. You are facing the replacement of all copper runs as this is not going to get better. You should have your water analyzed and an acid neutralizer installed to prevent further damage.

Water gets murky when it stays in plumbing pipes

Q.     I recently installed a pedestal sink in my half bath off my kitchen. Due to the sink bowl being larger and the pedestal having to set out further to support the bowl, the water was shut off in the basement for a month while the floor was chopped up for relocation of the drain and supply lines.

Upon reconnecting of these lines, all seems fine except that  both hot and cold water run colored for 10 seconds. Is this normal and when will it stop and run clear immediately?

A.    I am sure that by now you have found that the water is running clear. It is normal for water standing in lines and not used for a long time to run murky for a while. Perhaps you have old galvanized pipes, which may be rusty inside.

Filtering tap water

Q.    I am interested in installing a whole-house water filtration system due to my health. I am connected to the city water distribution system and the water quality is good. However, I do not have the specifics on the amount of iron, chlorine or other chemicals in the water.
I have seen some filtration systems with in-line filters that need to be changed and another that is guaranteed for life without the need to change filters.

Can you make any recommendations for a manufacturer and model for a permanent home filtration system?

A.    Before you select a filtration system, you should find out what is really needed (some chemicals are essential to our well-being and give water its taste.) A water analysis is the best way to go. You can find an independent specialist under “Water Analysis” in your Yellow Pages or on line. He or she can also recommend the type of system best for your conditions.