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Question DetailsAsked on 7/6/2016

water stain in toilet bowl

toilet bowl gets brownish slime under water level. house is on septic.

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2 Answers

Voted Best Answer

Could be iron bacterial or algae staining from incoming water, or built up in the piping as it ages and now building up in the toilet. Try the bleach for cleaning (1 cup in toilet tank for 5-10 minutes if slime is in the tank (commonly starts there) then scrub out, ditto for toilet bowl) then the bleach toilet tank cleaner discs. Tank cleaning goes much easier if you drain tank (preventing refill by holding float up) and wipe tank sides and bottom and support columns for mechanisms with paper towels first to get the worst of it off before chlorinating. Bit of liquid dishwashing soap helps in the tank cleaning too - and don't forget to get any buildup or mold on underside of tank lid either while in there.

if that does not work, could be whole-pipe buildup - which if old metal water pipes (especially galvanized) with a lot of internal buildup and corrosion is almost unbeatable without replacing the pipes. Lesser cases several dosings of the piping with sodium hypochlorite (plumber can do this at about $200-250/visit) at couple of week intervals can do it - sometimes - many times will reappear. If not showing up as staining in clothes coming from washer, or in staining in sinks or dishwasher, just do the bleach treatment as needed on the toilets. If a housewide problem with staining and discolored warter, then consider piping treatment or replacement.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD


House being on septic makes no difference - I am assuming you are also on a well, which does make a big difference.

Likely iron or manganese algae and staining. Water conditioner treatment of the incoming water could of course totally or mostly eliminate this - as could (commonly) an acid treatment of the well by a Well and Pump contractor IF the water coming out of the well is iron or manganese-algae heavy (brownish at pump startup after sitting for awhile), though in that case you would likely be getting laundry and dishwasher and maybe basin/tub staining as well. In some cases well water turning brown or iron-rich is an indication of decrease in water quality or chemistry or contamination with sewage or fertilizer, sometimes of the screen rusting out due to age, sometimes occurs only in summer heat (in shallow wells - typically ones under 20 feet in depth). Generally takes a water quality test to see what is going on, and in some wells becomes a chronic issue requiring periodic retreatment or well modifications.

In the toilet only, use of chlorine-based toilet tank tablets like Clorox Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner and other makes can significantly reduce or eliminate this - but be aware the replacement cycle for the tank mounting bolts and washers and sometimes the tank to bowl seal can drop to every 3-7 years from usual 10-20 years. There are special chlorine-resistant washers and seals - the tank mounting bolt washers are usually the red chlorazone or similar name washers, and of course corroded bolts should be replaced at same time if applicable. Viton-B gaskets also work far better and very long life but not readily available and cost several dollars each as opposed to several dollars for a set of four of the more commonly available chlorine resistant (as opposed to proof) washers.

The tank to bowl seal, which usually shows similar deterioration and black rub-off breakdown commonly does not leak as readily because much of the leakage goes into the toilet base hole anyway, are a different color for the chlorine-resistant type but still grayish or blackish, for a few dollars more.

These gasket/weasher leaks become (almost always) a nuisance item only at first - start dripping at the back of the toilet usually over a period of weeks or months before it gets to be a serious amount of water, rather than a catastrophic failure, though if away on vacation or a longish trip can cause significant water damage over a period of days when they start leaking. And of course continuous dripping will eventually cause wall, flooring, subfloor damage if not kept wiped up or caught on a towel and changed out every day to prevent mildew/mold.

For cleanup of the staining there now (and likely in the tank also) - non-abrasive toilet bowl cleaner with bleach in it. In severe instances may also take a toilet-safe iron non-abrasive stain remover or hydrogen peroxide.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD


No, we have no well. We are in the middle of Batavia IL, and are I believe the only street in Batavia still on septic.

I thank you for your answer, though! Any other thoughts?

Answered 4 years ago by antiquebonnie

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