Mildew growing below waterline in toilet & in toilet tank.

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  #1  
Old 11-05-12, 11:54 AM
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Mildew growing below waterline in toilet & in toilet tank.

I have 2 toilets - both of which are less than 4 yrs. old. I have a mildew/mold growing on the walls of the toilet bowl and under the rim where the water holes are as well as in the water tank itself. The worst of it grows from the waterline down in the toilet bowl. Two weeks ago before we went on vacation, I had cleaned the bathrooms, including the toilet bowls and when we came back from 5 days away - the toilet looked like it had a black coating from the waterline down. So basically - when the toilet was unused and the water simply sat in the bowl.

I had originally posted this issue months ago in the Cleaning Thread - and I took their advise, turned off the water supply, flushed the toilet emptying the tank and filled the tank and the toilet bowl with white vinegar and just let it stand for a few hours then scrubbed every inch I could reach in the tank and the bowl flushed the vinegar and then turned the water back on. Seemed to do the trick for about a month - 6 weeks then the mildew/mold started to grow in the bowl again. Though it doesn't seem to be growing in the tank anymore.

I know this is terribly long winded but - I just wanted you to understand the full picture. My s-i-l told me she had a similar issue, and her septic company told her it was related to sewer gas - we are on city sewers not septic - is this possible and if so, what do we do about it?
 
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Old 11-05-12, 12:11 PM
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Have you tried any of the continuous toilet bowl cleaners? The ones that you invert a bottle in the tank or drop a pellet in the tank, or hang a cake off the rim? Seems to me that you need to add something that makes the water inhospitable to the production of bacteria. If the vinegar wash helped, maybe something with citrus in it would create a similar acidic environment.
 
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Old 11-05-12, 12:24 PM
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Wow. If you are on city water there should be enough chlorine/chloramine to inhibit mildew and most other growth. Does this mildewing reliably happen over time or is it a once in a while occurrence?
 
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Old 11-05-12, 12:28 PM
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We are on city water and city sewers - It does grow all the time and as I stated in my original post - seemed to grow faster when the toilet wasn't used for 5 days. I do not like to use the continuous toilet bowl cleaners because I've been told they break down the parts inside the toilet tank.
 
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Old 11-05-12, 12:31 PM
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Toilets are glazed ceramic BUT in time the ceramic can erode or chip ETC ECT and then the ceramic can get stained, or grow mold. This happened in one of my previous apartments and still does (friend still lives there) but we would just clean it until it happened again.
are your toilets the same? if so maybe you got 2 out of a bad batch and you can contact the maker.
perhaps you also have very hard water, do you have to change the parts often?

you could always drop some smaller chlorine tabs (for a pool) in there and see if that helps at all. put them in the upper tank like a 2000 flushes (which is basically what they are). i would just maybe break tiny pieces tho because it will destroy your rubber gaskets over time.
also are you sure its mold and not black gasket material breaking down?
 
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Old 11-05-12, 12:38 PM
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I wouldn't put chlorine in the tank, it will destroy the seal of your flapper valve causing a leak. Our leases specifically prohibit their use but we had a tenant use them anyway and get a $500 water bill from the city.
 
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Old 11-05-12, 12:39 PM
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Whatever you use...do not use the stuff in the tank that has chlorine. Will it fix the mold...probably mostly...but it will also damage the rubber and plastic parts in the tank with prolonged use.

Newer good brand toilets (mine is older than yours and it has it) have a silver compound in the glaze that inhibits mold growth, at least the brown/black type. Are you getting pink or black mold/mildew?

Odd that it's below the waterline though....most I've seen are right at the waterline...maybe slightly above and below.

The sewer gas thing has nothing to do with it. More likely you have a slight contamination in the pipes or tank and the cleaning with vinegar didn't get it. The fact that the bowl stayed clean for longer than the tank seems to indicate that.

Try putting about 2 cups of bleach in the tank as it fills, let it sit an hour or so, and doing the scrubbing thing again. I know I said no chlorine...but I meant for constant exposure.
 
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Old 11-05-12, 12:39 PM
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It's definately mold because it coats the bowl - again only below the water line and under the rim where the water comes into the bowl from the tank - and when I clean it it breaks up like fibers - hard to describe - it coats the bowl uniformly.
 
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Old 11-05-12, 12:47 PM
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If I can stand to do so (and not expecting company) I will let it go for a week or more - and take a picture and post it.
 
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Old 11-05-12, 12:53 PM
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i wasnt saying to put the chlorine indefinitely just to see if it kills the mildew. i did say it would eat the gaskets.
my only advice would be a new toilet. still didnt answer tho if they are the same toilet in each bathroom. if the glazing is no good then theres not much you can do but replace. might be a form of algea growing as well and not mold. i havent seen mold or mildew grow "under water" mroe than just in damp areas.
the chlorine idea was just to see if it would kill the source, but yes bleach would work as well if you use a lot of it.
for me replacing toilet guts is not such a big deal and done occasionally anyway.
 
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Old 11-05-12, 01:00 PM
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Chlorine is what I tried first - over a year ago. As I said the toilets are ~4ys. old and no, they are not the same make or model.

I forgot to mention that I have replaced the guts on both already, just incase that had some bearing on the issue.

I hadn't considered it being algea. I suppose I could try some of the algeacide I have for my swimming pool.
 
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Old 11-05-12, 01:07 PM
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I think algeacide is mostly chlorine as well isn't it? Been too long since I was around pools...don't remember.
 
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Old 11-05-12, 01:10 PM
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@guhnguy45 - I didn't think it was chlorine - certainly doesn't smell like chlorine, but I'll check what the contents are before I use it.
 
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Old 11-14-12, 04:19 PM
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Algaecide is usually copper-based.
 
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Old 11-15-12, 12:55 PM
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as long as it doesnt eat the enamel just try it, you can pour it in the bowl first to test it and let it sit. that way it will never touch the tank rubber.
 
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Old 03-19-13, 09:19 AM
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UPDATE

I spoke to a representative from our municipal water department - she told me that it is most likely due to the design of the toilet - apparently there is an area inside the structure of the bowl where water sits and an air pocket - that is most likely the primary site of the mildew growth -and it is in an area that can not be reached for cleaning- short of destroying the toiletbowl. She also told me that they had been receiving reports of this from customers who had "newer" toilets, that had the same issue. She also told me that her own mother has the same issue - and she has water service from a different supplier. There really isn't anything that can be done about this other than to do the constant cleaning. While I'm not thrilled about this, at least it has put my mind at rest about our water quality and the fact that I can't seem to conquer this problem permanently.
 
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Old 03-19-13, 10:26 AM
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I wonder if adding some bleach to the tank, let it sit for 10 minutes, then flush it through would help clean those unreachable parts. While I realize chlorine long-term will affect the gaskets, but I'd imagine brief contact with it every couple months wouldn't do much to the parts in your toilet, but should be enough to keep the mildew/mold at bay.

I'm not a mold nor toilet expert, so take my thoughts for what they're worth
 
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Old 03-19-13, 06:58 PM
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Bleach vs. Vinegar - Vinegar wins in this instance

Well actually I've tried both bleach and vinegar - and of the two I found that the vinegar kept the problem away longer than the bleach. It's just a pita to have to do on a regular basis - as I explained upstream, I turn off the water to the toilet, flush all the water out of the tank and bowl and then fill both with the vinegar and let it stay for a couple of hours. Then turn the water back on and flush the system kept the mildew away for close to 5 weeks - which beats the bleach which only kept it away for about 3 weeks. Right now I have an in tank bleach tablet which isn't doing a blessed thing except turning the water a slight blueish color.
 
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Old 03-20-13, 04:34 AM
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What the water dept. said is pretty lame. All toilets have internal passages and air spaces. Not to mention that mold spores exist almost everywhere in nature.

Do be careful with deodorizers, cleaners and other products that clip into the toilet's tank. The solid block ones that slowly dissolve are the worst. If chunks of it break off or if you drop a piece (cap, hanging wire...) into the tank it can find it's way down into the internal passages of the bowl where it is extremely difficult to remove.
 
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Old 03-20-13, 06:50 AM
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I agree, I was not totally satisfied with what the water department said, but it does make as much sense as anything else I've heard. I've just never encountered an issue like this with any plumbing and it is really anoying not to be able to find a permanent "fix" for this and to know that I will continually have to deal with this until I ante up the $$ and buy another new toilet. Maybe I'll ask for one for Christmas. Point taken on the toilet tank "drop-ins". I will keep an eye on it, but so far as I said it's not doing much of anything but coloring the water slightly.
 
  #21  
Old 03-20-13, 11:33 AM
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For the waterline - did you try scraping it with a razor blade? There might be some scaling/mineral deposits.
 
  #22  
Old 11-15-13, 06:19 PM
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Toilet mold & mildew

I never had this problem with my toilet until recently. I never used a product to put in the tank before. When cleaning one day I found an old box of the "blue" thing you put in the tank to help keep your toilet clean and fresh. Maybe a month later, I noticed dark spots in the bowl at the water line. Hmm, no idea why...just used toilet bowl cleaner, it was fine. Ok, a week or so later, same thing. Clean it. Again, clean it. Finally looked in the tank today! Mold and mildew at the water line and on everything else in the tank too, even the underside of the lid. The sides were orange stained from our hard water. I didn't have much bleach but I had some CLR cleaner. Emptied the tank and used a putty knife to scrape the yuk off, filled and flushed that down. CLR cleaned the orange stains. Had some Clorox for outdoors bleach, very concentrated stuff. Filled tank 3/4 with water, the rest with bleach, let it set a while, rubber gloves on, toothbrush, and scrubbing pad I cleaned every part I could get to and soaked it again. Flushed it at least 4 more times to get all the bleach out. I'm hoping all that cleaning does the job. We'll see.
 
  #23  
Old 11-16-13, 05:57 AM
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The tanks on both of my toilets seem fine (I've even looked at the inside of the tanks at my sister's house just for comparison). I've never used CLR but I'm willing to try anything at this point. I've spent too much $$ trying to solve this issue and 2-3 weeks later no matter what I've used, it's back. I'm really frustrated and cleaning my toilets daily is getting really old.
 
  #24  
Old 11-19-13, 12:10 AM
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I have been dealing with this same problem for 30+ years. I've replaced the toilets in the house several times over the years and it does no good - the mold keeps coming back regardless. I've tried bleach and vinegar too - doesn't do alot of good. I've bought mold resistant toilets too - still the mold comes back in a matter of weeks. I don't know what's causing it - I also am on city water - from MSD in Louisville, KY. If anyone finds a cure for it, I'd love to know about it.
 
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Old 11-19-13, 12:30 AM
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Interestingly, I just did a bit of research on this toilet mold problem and found a discussion board where the people had associated the mold to sugar in the urine of the people using the toilet. Nearly everyone there had a diabetic living in the home. I do too. Wonder if the people here who have the problem also have a diabetic in the home. Just curious.
 
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Old 11-19-13, 06:31 AM
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WOW! My husband is a diabetic! What an amazing connection. It never would have occurred to me. But you know what it makes even more sense when I think about the toilet on the main level of our house that gets the most use is worse than the one in the lower level which my husband rarely uses. Ok, now that we know the cause, what in the world can be done about it?
 
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