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What is Biofilm in Drain Pipes?

what is biofilm in drain pipes

Published By: webdev

What is biofilm in drain pipes? You likely don’t think of your sink or bathtub drain as a home for living creatures, but drains, in fact, often attract bacteria and other microbes. Ever seen scum build up in a drain and clog it? That’s biofilm! Biofilm is made of layers and layers of micro-organisms that have been living undetected under your roof–that is, until the biofilm starts clogging the drains, which occurs when it mixes with debris like hair and soap.  

In this article, we’ll explore what causes biofilm to form, how it can affect your pipes, and how you can keep it from happening in your home or business.

What is Biofilm in Drain Pipes?

Biofilms are groups of microorganisms that form colonies on surfaces, resulting in a thin, slimy film. You might have encountered biofilm while clearing a hairball from your shower drain. Biofilm can also form on your faucet or the inside of your sink drain pipes. Some examples of organisms that produce biofilm include but are not limited to:

  • Bacteria
  • Fungus
  • Algae
  • Protists 

What Causes Biofilm?

Now that we know what biofilm is, let’s take a look at what causes it to form. Biofilm is formed when bacteria create a sticky, extracellular polysaccharide matrix that binds bacteria to a surface.

You can imagine a single bacterium clinging to the inside of a pipe. As it multiplies,  these microbes get stuck to each other until there’s a large colony. But, of course, it takes a specific kind of environment for these bacteria to stick, such as a moist one like in a bathtub or shower.  Ever seen a ring of film around the drain? That’s biofilm!

Is it Bad for Your Health?

Now you’re probably wondering if the biofilm is dangerous for humans. Indeed, the bacteria and other microbes contained in biofilm can be hazardous to your health.

There are a lot of bacteria and fungi in your environment, and most of them aren’t good for you to come into contact with or consume. For instance, imagine having a lot of bacteria hanging around your home and cluttering your living space. What’s even more frustrating is that these types of bacteria can’t be seen!

One study shows that biofilms on medical implants can grow and cause infections when they enter the body.

Luckily, there are two good pieces of news. First, biofilm can be treated. Second, not all biofilms are harmful. Some can be beneficial and put to good use, such as in the utilization of biofilm for treating wastewater and cleaning up gas and oil spills.

How to Remove Biofilm from Your Drinking Water

  • Water Filtration

One way to remove biofilm in drinking water is through water filtration systems. You might think of a filter pitcher you put in the fridge, but there are much more sophisticated and robust ways to do this.

A whole-house water filtration system filters all the water in your home. This provides peace of mind, knowing that the biofilm and other contaminants are gone.

  • Pipe Jetting

If you want to make sure your drinking water and drain pipes are always clean and fresh, consider having a professional come out and clean your pipes. This process is known as “pipe jetting/cleaning” and allows you to have freshly cleaned pipes without completely replacing them throughout your home.

  • Whole Home Pipe Replacement

If your old pipes are worn and damaged, it’s time to replace them. You can expect this to happen more frequently in older homes than newer ones, but if you need a complete replacement, you’ll need to hire a local plumber in your region.

Contact Custom Plumbing of Arizona for Biofilm Removal

What is biofilm in drain pipes?  If you have noticed a foul smell coming from your drain pipes, it may be due to the presence of biofilm. If you are experiencing any issues with your drain pipes, contact Custom Plumbing of Arizona at 602-883-2761 for professional assistance.