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prioritymail's avatar

How can I eliminate the fungal growth in the kitchen faucet (or associated plumbing)?

Asked by prioritymail (1617 points ) February 11th, 2011

I just moved into this house. (I’m a student sharing this place with 3 other people). I’m in Hawaii where tap water is normally very good (except for the chlorine they add afterwards for no good reason). There is a distinct “mold” or “mildew” taste (not sure what exactly but it tastes like how a wet sponge might smell; definitely some kind of sporulating fungus) to the water. At first it was only noticeable in the hot water line, but now the cold water line is contaminated, too.

There are copper stubouts connected to (what I think is woven plastic) flex connections which connect to the faucet.

My first thought is that the problem is at the aerator where water likely stands/drips. I tried to remove it and clean it, but can’t get it off. It seems frozen or perhaps the threads got crossed (apparently you turn clockwise to remove).

I settled for spraying bleach up into the faucet through the aerator, but I think that is probably a temporary fix at best.

Any other tips or suggestions?

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6 Answers

snowberry's avatar

Are you certain the smell is coming from the tap? It’s more likely it’s coming from the drain. You would get the smell every time you run water in the sink. It’s fairly easy to kill the smell from the drain. Vinegar kills mold and mildew. Run a few cups of boiling vinegar down the drain, and that should solve your problem.

If you are certain it’s coming from your pipes, call your landlord, and/or the water department, and tell them your problem. Perhaps they would have an idea of where to start.

We have a house we rent out. I would be very upset with my tenants if they started dismantling my plumbing.

prioritymail's avatar

It is not a smell; it is a taste. I drink the water, and I taste mold. This has nothing to do with the drain, everything to do with the faucet, flex connection, and/or copper pipe. It is very unlikely the problem is with the water department’s end of things. Very.

Really? I used to design plumbing systems for a living. It wouldn’t be a big deal to me if a tenant in my house removed and cleaned an aerator or replaced the flex connections. Working on a kitchen sink is not the same as demo-ing a portion of a wall to get at some pipes. Everything is installed to be accessible for maintenance in accordance with the plumbing code…

I don’t have any minutes left on my phone for this month but I just tried to email them.

You know, what is strange to me is that I only tasted it on the hot water before and now I can taste it with both hot and cold. If it were the aerator, I would expect to have had the problem with both the whole time. If it is with the flex connection or piping, I don’t really see how one could contaminate the other since the pipes are pressurized and water should only be going in one direction.

BarnacleBill's avatar

We have had that taste in the water when the local area had a drought and the water coming through the pipes is from the bottom of the reservoir. Are you sure it’s not a water supply problem?

prioritymail's avatar

I’m about 99% sure. In Hawaii something like 95% of water is from aquifers. Very little from surface water. Plus the water department goes through great lengths to prevent contamination, including excessively chlorinating the water before it is supplied. It is much, MUCH more likely the problem originates in the house. I’d like to investigate the kitchen faucet area first and if it is still a problem then go to the water department.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Have you tasted the water from other faucets in the house?

If it’s in that faucet, then letting the water run for a bit should clear out the line. You could replace the faucet; there are inexpensive models out there. You should not be getting any taste with copper pipes. Generally, you get build-up with galvanized pipes, and that can give you a funny taste.

augustlan's avatar

You could try filling a plastic baggie with either bleach or vinegar, and immersing the faucet head in it, then tying or taping it on the to faucet for a while. See if that kills it all.

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