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We are taking precautions to protect our customers and employees against COVID-19

Biofilm on Plumbing Pipes and Fixtures Can Present Health Risks.

woman washing hands in phoenix arizona kitchen sink holding sponge in left hand stainless steel outdated faucet contaminated with biofilm by canyon state plumbing division in sun city west

Whether you’re managing the plumbing at a commercial or residential property, adequate care is the key to a well-functioning system. But performance, comfort and long term savings aren’t the only perks you should value. In fact, proper upkeep can have a big impact on your overall well-being! The simple act of cleaning your drains and faucets on a regular basis will help you avoid the health hazards of biofilm on plumbing pipes and fixtures.

What’s Biofilm and the Concern?

Believe it or not, germs and bacteria within Phoenix waterways are not as uncommon as you might hope – and the hardness of public water here doesn’t help. So when you notice a slimy, sticky substance around the sink or shower (or another moist area of the property), you’re going to want to clean it up. This is a key indicator that biofilm is present. 

The Makeup and Characteristics of Biofilm.

Also known as the mucus-like goo that clings to hair in the drain, biofilm is essentially a collection of one or more species of bacterium and their waste. Organisms like fungi, parasites and even algae have been known to incorporate themselves in the disgusting matter.

image of tabletop for plumbing consultations at canyon state's headquarters in sun city west arizona where certified technicians are educating the community on potential problems with pipes, fixtures and other appliances

Why It Can Be Hard to Get Rid of Biofilm

While the smell and texture is enough to make you gag, the characteristics of biofilm are even more nauseating. Certain studies have actually proven that the dominant organisms of biofilm have a keen ability to fluctuate, alter their cellular functions and adapt in adverse environmental conditions. 

Moreover, the bacterial cells have been known to resist detergents, antibiotics, heavy metals, and other antimicrobial treatments. In other words, they can withstand products that are meant to kill or slow the spread of microorganisms. Because of this, biofilms are used in some countries to clean the water at wastewater treatment plants. 

How Can Biofilm Affect My Health?

Even though most people don’t become severely ill or die after coming in contact with biofilm on plumbing pipes and fixtures, the outcome can be unpleasant. Salmonella, MRSA, Listeria, Legionnaires Disease, E. Coli and even ear infections are all examples of ailments that have a direct correlation with biofilm. 

Even plaque on teeth has been associated with the clump of hazardous bacteria.

black garbage disposal system under basin of kitchen sink in surprise arizona household that is full of clogged food and bacteria that may produce biofilm that is hazardous to health if not properly cleaned by homeowner canyon state blog photo by prefocus solutions

Where Am I At Risk for Infection?

Although sinks and showers are a commonplace for the substance to dwell, biofilm has also been found on cutting boards, kitchen counters and even dish towels (or other materials that aren’t disinfected and dried on a regular basis). You might think the bathroom is the most susceptible area, but the kitchen is a far more concerning breeding ground.

Even if you clean your kitchen sink well, bacteria that thrives on raw foods like chicken can easily transfer to proximate areas. Touching the faucet handle before your hands are clean can result in biofilm growth on fridge handles, door knobs, light switches and other frequently touched items. Laundry rooms and swim areas also tend to harbor the goo.

kitchen granite counter in surprise arizona house with green plant in background to depict bacteria spread on surfaces and places we frequently touch by canyon state plumbing photo by prefocus solutions

The More You Know, The Better Off You’ll Be.

Whether there’s biofilm on plumbing pipes and fixtures or you’re creating health hazards elsewhere, thorough cleaning habits will eliminate the possibility of exposure. Here in Arizona, microbiologist Kelly Reynolds went on the record to say the slimy substance can eventually become “big enough to break off and get onto your food or dishes.” That’s never a good thing.

Speaking of unhealthy eating, the food industry has dealt with a number of situations where biofilms have impacted consumers. Traces are often found on the scales of fish. So make sure you’re buying from trusted manufacturers and eating at restaurants that honor health codes. Other carriers include contact lenses, urinary catheters and devices to treat cystic fibrosis.

edited photography of sink underneath faucet where accumulation of bacteria and hard phoenix az water is accumulating at residence of canyon state plumbing customer photo by prefocus solutions for biofilm blog

End Biofilm on Plumbing & Counters.

Like we mentioned before, the best way to avoid contamination is to consistently clean your drains and other areas where moisture or bacteria is prevalent – especially when you’re not invested in annual plumbing maintenance. As soon as you suspect biofilm, get rid of it right away. If a wet rag and cleaner doesn’t do the trick, use a toothbrush to scrub it away.

Some Protective Measures Worth Noting.

Since clogged pipes have a tendency to regurgitate bacteria-filled water, make sure you’re sanitizing every potential splash zone. When you’re cooking with eggs or raw chicken, do a good job cleaning up after yourself. Soaking the aeration screen from every faucet in vinegar is also a good way to avoid infection.

close up of multifunctional kitchen sink faucet leaking water from aeration screen needing plumbing repair to avoid biofilm on plumbing at sun city west az home with coffee mug in background on countertop photo by prefocus solutions

If you want to go above and beyond with your cleaning efforts, dental floss will help you remove biofilm on plumbing fixtures, cracks and other hard to reach areas. The use of baking soda also helps with the removal of mineral deposits and other grimy substances.

Filtering the Hard Water in Phoenix, AZ.

Cleaning tactics aside, you can always hire a plumbing company to install a water softener or whole home filtration system. Either option will block many harmful deposits from entering your water lines and clinging to the sides of your pipes or residues like biofilm.

Those that are serious about protecting their health often invest in Hydro jetting services. When your drains are clear of feces and accumulated bacteria, it’s a lot easier to avoid illness.

standing outside next to plumbing vans canyon state technician smiling with beanie on during winter months for company blog on biofilm information and prevention photo by prefocus solutions

Protecting Your Health + Property.

At Canyon State, our main priority is your comfort and safety. If at any point you’re concerned about something going on within your plumbing system, don’t hesitate to give us a call. For more than 30 years, we’ve been serving the Phoenix community with quality service. While biofilm on plumbing elements may not be life threatening, it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

When it comes to addressing potential health risks, speaking to a trusted professional is rarely a bad idea. Whether you hire us or not, it’s always our pleasure to help in any way we can. Nonetheless, thanks for taking the time to check out our blog. We hope you were able to learn something new. 

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