Ask a Question forum: Garden hose has soapy looking water

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Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
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keithp2012
Jan 22, 2015 10:31 AM CST
My back garden hose when I turn it on has soapy looking water and specks that look like black pepper. When I run it for a few minutes it gets better but still is present.

The hose is located behind my bathroom so I was concerned possible cross contamination in house/outdoor water from bad plumbing. Or could it be the water we get is treated with something but dirty.

I feed cats and use this for my plants and I've been reluctant to give anything this water!
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
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porkpal
Jan 22, 2015 10:39 AM CST
Does the faucet produce the "dirty" water without the hose? Is this the only place you see this phenomenon?
Porkpal
Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
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jvdubb
Jan 22, 2015 10:40 AM CST
Do you have a local extension agency that could test it for you?
Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
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jvdubb
Jan 22, 2015 10:40 AM CST
Does it do it with a different hose?
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
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drdawg
Jan 22, 2015 10:50 AM CST
The best thing to do is disconnect the hose and run water into a bucket of some sort. Do you see the same thing? If so, you have a water problem. I can't imagine it would be a hose problem, but I try to never say "never". Tell us what you find.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
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If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
Region: United States of America Winter Sowing Plays in the sandbox Birds Native Plants and Wildflowers Tomato Heads
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keithp2012
Jan 22, 2015 1:28 PM CST
It's frozen outside I'll have to wait until a warmer day
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
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drdawg
Jan 22, 2015 1:59 PM CST
OK.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
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If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
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RickCorey
Jan 22, 2015 3:26 PM CST
Hi, Keith.

Once I called my local water district with a question about water pressure.

I got some lonely engineer who was eager to talk and offered to send someone out with a pressure gauge, even though the answer was sure to be "40 psi".

They might not rush to your house if only one spigot runs dirty and the rest of the house has clean water, but you never know. They might worry about contamination from one household pipe backing up into THEIR system.

I should have asked: do you have a well, or city water?

If some pipe is rusting enough to shed black specks, you might want to take slightly expensive preventive action to avoid a burst pipe and who-knows-how-much damage. At least find the water cutoff switch ahead of time, so if you ever have a geyser, you know where to run to shut it down.

Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
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plantladylin
Jan 22, 2015 4:22 PM CST
Does the water run clear after having the hose running for a few minutes? I've had this happen before when the hose hasn't been used in awhile but after a very short time the soapy look disappears and water runs clear. I always thought it had something to do with the hose being out in the hot Florida sun and possibly decomposing inside, then I read something about air and water mixing together inside the hose and reacting to oxidation until the hose fills completely. I googled and found this: http://www.tomatoville.com/showthread.php?t=29305
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Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
Region: United States of America Winter Sowing Plays in the sandbox Birds Native Plants and Wildflowers Tomato Heads
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keithp2012
Jan 22, 2015 4:38 PM CST
I would use the hose daily and the stuff did not dissapear.

We have city water, we don't have a well.

Our house was brought in poor condition and my parents know nothing about plumbing and last plumbing we had was over 20 years ago my parents are stingy with money. Near the hose behind the shingles is rotted in and out of the house.

I'm concerned about it wish my parents were. I'll have to test them with the hoses off to start and see if it makes a difference. If not is calling water authority or plumber better, how would a plumber even fix that?
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
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drdawg
Jan 22, 2015 4:43 PM CST
Start with identifying the problem first, Keith. The diagnosis would dictate what needs to be done.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
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If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
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RickCorey
Jan 22, 2015 5:07 PM CST
Once you get the hose unscrewed from the spigot and run it a while, try running some into a clean glass or pitcher. See how cloudy/soapy it looks "fresh out of the spigot".

Then let it sit undisturbed for a few hours, and see if the cloudiness "rises" and leaves clearer water behind. If so, it was probably dissolved gasses ... but from what?

If black specks settle down, the speed with which they settle might tell you whether they are silt-sized or larger.

Sending a sample of "spigot water" plus a sample of "indoor sink water" to the water people ought to get some reply from them like "rust" or "chlorine" or "bacterial buildup".

P.S. If that hose has been on that spigot for years, be careful unscrewing it. It might be possible to rip the spigot right off the pipe, if the pipes are rusting out. (And then your parents might say it was your fault!)

P.P.S.
At first I thought calling the water district or public utilities would be free, and they might do something for you. But what if your laws say that it is the homeowner's responsibility to maintain their own pipes so they don't pollute the town water? What if they said your parents "have to" make repairs?

Still, if there is a danger that a rapidly rusting water line is going to burst and spray water all through your house, repairing the pipe may be cheaper than replacing the house.

I hope you keep us updated as you experiment.
Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
Region: United States of America Winter Sowing Plays in the sandbox Birds Native Plants and Wildflowers Tomato Heads
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keithp2012
Jan 23, 2015 1:55 PM CST
I ran both hoses and only one had black stuff coming out.
I then removed both hoses and ran the water, collecting right away and a few minutes later. The front had normal water. The back (with the black and foamy water) had nothing in it once the hose was removed.

However, I've had no foam in winter, last I saw it was summer, so I can't explain that. But the black stuff apparently is from the old, black rubber hose which im going to need to replace with a new hose.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
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drdawg
Jan 23, 2015 2:06 PM CST
I think you have figured it out and a replacement hose is the best you could have hoped for. Thumbs up
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
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If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
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woofie
Jan 23, 2015 2:25 PM CST
And there are hoses that are specifically designed for potable (drinking) water, if you're concerned about your pets.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
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drdawg
Jan 23, 2015 2:28 PM CST
Right. Even Wal Mart has a section in the "Auto" for Motor Homes and they will have those hoses in that section.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
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If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
Region: United States of America Winter Sowing Plays in the sandbox Birds Native Plants and Wildflowers Tomato Heads
Vegetable Grower Garden Photography Hybridizer Spiders! Annuals Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
keithp2012
Jan 23, 2015 3:14 PM CST
woofie said:And there are hoses that are specifically designed for potable (drinking) water, if you're concerned about your pets.


I didn't know that, I'll have to check that out!
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Jan 23, 2015 3:38 PM CST
Thumbs up
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jan 23, 2015 3:38 PM CST
Great outcome!

Maybe the summer/winter difference has to do with dissolved gasses - more gas dissolves in cold water than warm water (which is the opposite of how salts dissolve).

When cold water from the city hits a hot hose, dissolved gasses would come bubbling out like a bottle of warm club soda.

Or maybe the summer heat actually breaks down one hose on a chemical level, and those breakdown products are foamy like soap.

Thanks for posting the answer!
Name: Kate
Holmes Beach, FL (Zone 10a)
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karmatree
Feb 1, 2015 6:32 AM CST
Rick is correct. I live in Florida, have city water, etc and have seen that soapy hose phenomenon often. The chlorine/dissolved oxygen and other gases hit a different temperature/pressure once released from the hose, especially if you see it "spitting" when it first comes out....It looks like soap but it's gas bubbles coming out of solution. Has not harmed my plants or my dog in any way. Hope this is also your situation. Fill up a clear glass with that "soapy" stuff, as all the gas dissolves out, the water should clear up...not leaving any white thick goop behind like you'd imagine with foamy soap.
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