Large sediment in pipes - Pics attached

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by mward77095, Jan 12, 2011.

  1. mward77095

    mward77095 New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Cypress
    Hello,
    I have a 2 year old house. I have a lot of sediment in the plumbing pipes that is constantly clogging my showers and faucets. I think it is primarily coming from the hot side because there is very little sediment in the toilet tanks and the cold side of faucets are not clogging.

    I have one tankless hot water heater and a traditional water heater. I am having the problem in the areas that are powered by my tankless. I might be having the same problem in the other areas of the house but the sediment is building in the tank, so it's not clogging the faucets.... I'm not sure, just a guess.

    I have put some of the sediment in vinegar (distilled white vinegar) and it did not disolve. Below is a picture of what I am getting.

    Sediment 2.jpg Sediment 1.jpg
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    It could be water heater dip tube, but only if the unit is quite old....the dip tube problem dates earyl to mid '90s! Google dip tube to find out all about that
  3. mward77095

    mward77095 New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Cypress
    It's a 2 year old tankless hot water heater.
  4. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

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    3,248
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    It looks a lot like calcium scale. Do you have hard water? Have you have the tankless serviced?
  5. JKERN

    JKERN New Member

    Messages:
    49
    Location:
    Artesia NM
    Tankless hot water heaters have a nasty habit of building up calcium as well as disolved solids quickly due to the extreme and instant amount of heat that they generate. I have seen this in my field for several years now. Sometimes depending on your water makeup you will be able to just treat this with a standard cation softener but you would definetly need a reliable company to do a water analysis.
  6. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    Location:
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    It could be minerals precipitated onto the inside of the heating coil, which then "break" off when it cools and contracts, and then expands again during the next cycle.
  7. mward77095

    mward77095 New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Cypress
    I haven't had the water tested.... and I'm on a well. Is there a way to test these particles myself? I read somewhere that if the particles disolve in vinegar, then it is calcium. I soaked the particles in Distilled White Vinegar and they did not disolve. I could be doing this wrong..... I am certainly not an expert.
  8. mward77095

    mward77095 New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Cypress
    Is it possible to put some type of filter after the hot water heater to catch the debris?
  9. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
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    Location:
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    Assuming it is hardness/minerals, you need to treat the water. If you don't your tankless is going to have a very short life.
  10. JKERN

    JKERN New Member

    Messages:
    49
    Location:
    Artesia NM
    It is certainly possible to put a filter post heater but that is not solving the problem like catcher says you first must asses your water condition and treat it pre heater to have any chance of success. Being in the water industry for some time I dealt with this sort of thing before and what is in your water now is what is causing your problem. Another thing you might consider is what type of stem pipe they used for your well. Some well drillers use galvanized pipe which over time can cause issues with other disimmilar metals down stream from it depending on your water analysis. Look up National testing labrotories they have a home owners kit you can purchase take your water sample and then mail it back to them.
  11. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Architect

    Messages:
    277
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    Check with some of your local universities. Many of them have water labs and will anaylize your water for a nominal fee. My local one does it for $15 for a basic, and $40 for a complete anaylsis.
  12. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    He already analyzed his water problem with that picture of calcium broken off from the inside of the heating tubes [note the greenish copper tint on some] and you guys gave him the solution. Its only on the instant side ....Get rid of the instant heater. Nothing but trouble.

    I just added a real valve to the drain of my water heater, and got about a gallon of that same precipitate out of it. Tank water heaters, especially TALL ones, are natural filters. Not that drinking that in solution is a problem anyway.

    Put it in muriatic or lime-away, if you are still worried.
  13. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    A simple hardness test kit from a hardware store or pool company, for an aquarium etc. will give you a ballpark figure of hardness. If more than 3 gpg (about 60 ppm), you need a water softener to protect both water heaters and other appliances, clothes, fixtures etc..

    Water heaters don't filter hardness, they remove some by way of precipitating out of solution hardness minerals (calcium and magnesium) because of heating the water. Those particles become hard water scale and some break loose and if possible out of the tank.That is especially true of instant water heaters because there is no place to 'store' the particles and they are flushed out of the coil. Most instant water heaters have a very low maximum hardness that is allowed or the warranty is voided.
  14. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    Most instant heaters get installed without even a thought about water type. Then the HO does not of course do the maintenance. Then its a disaster.

    Electric tank water heaters are a perfect piece of engineering when you add the right anode and put in a real drain valve and plumb it to a drain.

    I have vacuumed and flushed as much as 3 gallons of stalagtites from water heaters. Imagine that running into your grohe faucet every day!
  15. ilya

    ilya In the Trades

    Messages:
    105
    Location:
    Akron Ohio
    Ballvalve do you attach a shopvac right to the drain on the hot water tank?
  16. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    If you remove the drain and poke around through the hole with a coat hanger or a piece of small flexible hose, and allow water into the tank partially, you will get a flood of junk. No vac needed there, unless you are not in a water safe area. Then the vac plus someone opening the inlet valve works, but vacs dont hold 30 or 50 gallons.

    I have duct taped garden hose to shop vacs and vacuumed thru the lower element hole when the bottom drain is difficult to remove.

    You really should agitate to remove the sediment, even if you have a real full flow ball valve on the drain.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2011
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