Black Spots in Bathtub.

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by BMWGreenRT, Jun 26, 2005.

  1. Nader

    Nader New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2009
    Location:
    Berkeley, Ca.
    What are Plex Connectors?

    My question is in response to the post by "pd". What is a Plex Connector? I've done some searching on google and not coming up with anything. Are you referring to the flexible water supply hose?

    By the way, I am so surprised to hear so many people with new houses complaining of this problem. I have an old Craftsman, 1914, and have been thinking that it is the old pipes. But, over the past five years a number of remodeling projects have happened, except there hasn't been any new plumbing installed, just new fixtures with a little bit of copper piping attached to the old galvanized pipes.
     
  2. Mouse100

    Mouse100 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2010
    Location:
    Texas
    PHP:
    I have the same problem... only the water from the hot water side comes out with a black tint to it... leaves a black greasy residue all in the tub... it's hard to clean because it smears like eye makeup... We changed out our hot water heater at a cost of $ 300. and it didn't work... then nt husband put a new anti rod or whatever that thingy is called on the new hot water heater.. I couldn't take a bath if I wanted to... water is filled with black greasy stuff... does not happen in shower... I wish someone new how to fix this problem! Also we have city water not a well. I don't understand why it does not happen in the cold water doesn't it all run through the same pipes? Very disgusted with this problem!
    Becky from Texas
     
  3. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2007
    Occupation:
    Service Plumber
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Nope, HJ and Plumguy pretty much nailed the possible causes.
    It's either magnesium sulfide from your water reacting with the anode in which case an aluminum anode is the fix.

    Or there is deteriorating rubber somewhere. Chloramines used in water disinfection attack rubber causing it to breakdown. It may be from inside a flexible supply for a water heater, an expansion tank, or even valve parts...
     
  4. ksrountree

    ksrountree New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2010
    Occupation:
    Manufacturer
    Location:
    Oregon
    During our research of this problem, we came accross this report out of Florida: http://www.psc.state.fl.us/utilities/waterwastewater/blackwater/finalreport.pdf

    The report lead us to believe black water from copper pipe corrosion and the resulting residue or sediment from this corrosion, combined with the the use of water softeners had contributed to black spots on our clients bathtub and shower floors. Our client disconnected the water softener and flushed the copper pipes resulting in a fix. This may not solve everyones problem.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2010
  5. worsnup

    worsnup plumbing contractor

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2010
    Occupation:
    plumbing contractor
    Location:
    phoenix az
    you have plastic or pex water system, its algae and its common in plastic systems in phoenix
     
  6. gefact

    gefact New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2010
    Location:
    CA
    BLACK SPOTS RESOLVED!!!!
    Hi Gang,
    I had the same problem and found the answer on another thread. The problem was in the braided lines connecting the hot water heater to the water line. The inside is black rubber and when they get old the insides peel away and release into the water system. I just replaced my hoses and cut one of the old ones opened and the black oily stuff was inside and came off in my finger.

    Hope this helps!
     
  7. Smoothie

    Smoothie New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2009
    Location:
    Canada
    I have black specks in my bathtub also. They do not spread like mascara. It is more like a hard plastic. It only comes from the hot water heater in my wood furnace. The specks are quite big. You can easily see them and picked them up. They are not metal. Somebody said they had the same problem and they had to replace the mixing valve. What is the mixing valve?
     
  8. Angie Scarle

    Angie Scarle New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2012
    Location:
    Lewisville, TX
    I also have this problem, but it seems worse than the other people. Sometimes it's big chunks of black in the bathtub like charcoal. I have learned to manage it by keeping the pressure & temperature down. However, if someone flushes the toilet, uses a sink, or anything while I am running bathwater, I get loaded with huge chunks of this black coal like substance in the bathtub. My house was built in 1995, and the black only seems to come out of the master bathtub, and one sink that is right next to it. The bathtub is the most noticable. It's really annoying. I have a weird water heater, it had to be special ordered because of a unique venting system. I don't believe it's the water heater, because it's been going on over a year, and I have never seen it in the kitchen sink, dishwasher, or anywhere else in the house. i don't want to waiste money taking things apart, the plummer said I needed a new water heater, but this doesn't seem logical to me. If it were the water heater, why isn't it coming out of all f the faucets?
     
  9. AndE

    AndE New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2012
    Location:
    San Francisco Bay Area
    My hot tub (self contained, heated by electricity) has the problem with sticky black dots (that ruins swimsuits, when we wear them!) which suggests it has nothing to do with water heaters/rods, water softeners, copper pipes, etc. It's second-hand, and probably 10 years old. I'm going to check everything rubber next. Thanks plumber buddies for the suggestion!
     
  10. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Occupation:
    Plumber
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote; You mean to tell me this problem is so unusual that no one can help

    It is NOT an unusual problem. In fact it is very common and is often accompanied by the odor of "rotten eggs". My solution is to remove the anode rod and leave it out. That almost always cures the problem, unless it has deteriorated to the point where it has caused deposits on the bottom of the tank, and if so, it is almost impossible to "flush" them out. And just have to wait until they come out with the water's flow.
     
  11. phostis

    phostis New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2012
    Location:
    cary, NC
    Had the same problem as original poster: greasy black spots that smear like mascara.

    Solution: Replaced expansion tank. The old one was, repeat WAS, installed correctly on the cold water line. When the plumber pulled the old one off and stuck a screwdriver into the neck it came out covered in greasy black goo.

    Plumber said has been working since 1967 and this was the first instance of this he'd ever seen. When he rattled the old tank you could hear the water sloshing where it had penetrated the bladder.

    Don't let them tell you you're crazy. This can be fixed.
     
  12. julielver

    julielver New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2013
    Location:
    Lake Villa, Illinois
    I have the identical problem. It only occurs in my bathtub upstairs with hot water, and not in the bathtub downstairs. I saw the particles in the vanity sink next to the tub, but that was just once. It only occurs with the hot water. Lots of them come out in big bursts, especially when we haven't used the tub in a few weeks. We have our own well with a big-blue filter on it. We recently changed the filter, still have black specks.
    We don't have a water heater, we have a Buderus boiler that heats the hot water. We have a water softener. I have a chemistry background and did some tests on the black stuff. i tested for manganese dioxide and iron, no reaction.I used hydrochloric acid to see if it would dissolve, no reaction, so that would rule out many metals. I used an organic solvent like acetone and lighter fluid. I tried burning the stuff in a spoon on top of the stove. No reaction-the stuff doesn't burn like rubber would. That would rule out rubber, I think. I used a powerful magnet, which would detect iron and nickel, no reaction. The article from Florida indicated that magnesium sulfide water reaction with copper pipes would make copper sulfide, but that mineral is blue, not black. It seems to be a mineral of some type. i was just theorizing that since most of the posts here are from new construction, that possibly the interior of the new tub filler faucets using high water pressure and hot water could be the problem. We have an old house from the 1930's. We recently rehabbed the bathroom. We didn't have the problem before the rehab. We got a new tub filler from Porcher (the high end of American Standard). They have since discontinued this faucet line. Any thoughts about this theory?
     
  13. Pnc

    Pnc New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2015
    Location:
    Edmonds, Washington
    I did not start battling the black greasy spots until after a new water heater was installed. It is on the first floor and the tub i use is on the second floor. I haven't noticed it in sinks or anywhere else but i haven't looked super close in the shower.
    Sigh.... What to do?
     
  14. plumbing conundrum

    plumbing conundrum New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2016
    Location:
    Red Deer, Alberta
    Any chance you solved this problem? I have this issue and it is driving me crazy. I can't figure out what the problem is. I will upload a pictur.
    Is there any chance you solved this problem. I have the same issue and cannot figure it out. See the attached pictures. One bath and this was the result. You don't notice it when you run it but afterward it looks like this. image.jpeg image.jpeg
     
  15. plumbing conundrum

    plumbing conundrum New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2016
    Location:
    Red Deer, Alberta
    Anyone solve the black greasy spots issue? I have read several post describing the exact scenario I am facing. Stand alone tub, only occurs in the tub. I have a separate shower in the same bathroom and use it everyday. The issue seems to be isolated to the tub upstairs only. The bathroom downstairs is unaffected as well as all other sinks and toilets in the house. House was built in 2003. Bradford white water heater. Crazy that there is no clear posted answer to this posted issue. Please help me solve this plumbing conundrum! It's not mold or bacteria. It is a grease or deteriorating seal/rubber. This will take me an hour to clean after one bath. Definitely related to the hot water side of the system. Cold water bath water does not leave any trace of the greasy spots. Help!

    image.jpeg image.jpeg
     
  16. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    If you try a bleach solution with about 10 parts water, 1 part liquid chlorine bleach. If that works quickly, that is fairly diagnostic for mildew/mold. You may have tried that already. Its really easy, so you have not wasted much time if you try and it does not help.

    I would next try flushing my water heater. See if a lot of black comes out. Drain the water heater completely, opening a hot water tap to let air in. Turn on the supply fully for a few seconds and turn it off. Drain. Repeat several times until no color comes out.

    Well water? How is your manganese level? If you don't know, it is time to get a water test. I have not ever seen water with much manganese, and I don't know what the stains/deposits would look like.
     
  17. Paulypfunk

    Paulypfunk In the Trades

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2010
    Location:
    Seattle
    I am a plumber and we run across this problem occasionally. I am noticing a lot of water heaters made by Bradford White are being mentioned. I wonder if this could be a brand specific problem with their more recent models? Anyway I think the prudent summary of action to take is:

    1. Check for recent municipal activity that might explain a one time event. Work on the city water system could stir up sediment that would present itself when you run your taps.
    2. Check for the presence of deteriorated rubber in your plumbing system. Top offenders are braided water heater supply hoses, failed thermal expansion tanks, cheap supply hoses at the fixtures, deteriorated rubber washers in the angle stops at the fixtures.
    3. Flush water heater from tap at the bottom of the tank to remove sediment. Flush tank and run taps in house for aprox 10 minutes to fully flush system.
    3. The bits could be magnesium sulfide forming because the chemical composition of the municipal water supply is reacting with your plumbing. Consider changing anode rod in hot water tank from magnesium to aluminum. An anode rod comes pre installed in your water tank to help prevent corrosion. The idea is that corrosion attacks the magnesium rod before it will attack the inside walls of your water tank. Aluminum rods work as well but are harder so mag is preferred. They also make hybrid anode rods that can help deal with sulphur smelly water.
    4. If none of this works, MOVE.
     
  18. Lonesomefugitive

    Lonesomefugitive New Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2016
    Location:
    New York
    I have been having the same problems as described above where black spots are noticeable in a bathtub. It started out as tiny smeared specks only noticeable after the water was drained, but now I see slightly larger rubbery pieces. I believe I have read all threads on the internet discussing this problem!!

    I had a new Bradford White power vent (model#: RG2PV50T6N) hot water heater installed in September 2015. I have city water that is treated with Chloramine, but my PRV (Apollo 36LF) and expansion tank (Watts LPT-12) were also new and installed at the same time the hot water heater was installed. I have replaced all old globe valves that had rubber washers. I checked the rubber washers in the unions at the water meter and they appear to be in good condition (I have never seen anyone mention this as another source of deteriorating rubber). I also checked my cold water right after the meter at an outdoor hose bibb and did not see any debris. I have all copper plumbing and no flexible lines at the hot water heater. All shutoff valves under sinks and flex lines to sink faucets are new.

    I'm going to replace my expansion tank next since it is cheap. There is no obvious sign that it is bad. (I tested the PSI and got PSI which matches my pressure after the PRV. Also, no water comes out when you depress the stem)

    Does anyone know if a PRV has rubber that could deteriorate also?

    Are magnesium sulfide flakes rubbery? Can you get magnesium sulfide with hard water?

    I have attached photos:
    • son's bath toy that had the black specks just from being used in the tub. My spots are not terribly hard to remove and if I use soft scrub with bleach or 409 and scrub for a bit, I can get the surface clean.
    • old globe valve washer that used to be on the cold water line that supplied my hot water heater. I had three of these on an unused water softener/filter loop. These have been completely removed with copper couplings. This just shows you what chloramine does to rubber over time. I'm not sure how old these are, but my house was built in 1960.
    • the water when drained from the hot water heater
    • photos of specks caught in the aerator. They are rubber like and you can roll them with your finger and squeeze them smaller. If the specks are smaller, they are easily pushed into the aerator screen when you try to clean them.
    image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2016
  19. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    You might ask a next door neighbor about specs in the aerators. Could be coming in from the city.

    How about filling a bucket from the outside hose bib. That would be cold-only. Any black particles? How about the toilet tanks. Cold water again. Do you have the particles there?
     
  20. Lonesomefugitive

    Lonesomefugitive New Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2016
    Location:
    New York
    I asked neighbors and they don't notice it. I tested my outdoor hose bib which is right after my meter, and it was clear. Toilet tanks I see some black particles but it appears it is the rubber bolt washers that have deteriorated over time.
     
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