white-chalky substance plugging all faucets

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by KrazyPlace, Feb 8, 2007.

  1. KrazyPlace

    KrazyPlace New Member

    Messages:
    4
    We moved into this house 8 months ago and I have been fighting a chalky substance that keeps plugging up the faucets. It shows up in both bathrooms (faucets, showers, tubs) and the kitchen faucet and now I'm having flow restriction problems with the dishwasher.

    I've flushed the lines (all of them) and I get a bunch of this stuff out. I would discribe it as a white chalky substance. It looks like 'Dow Flake', but it can be broken up in between my fingers into a coarse powder.

    One of my faucets gets plugged in the hot water handle's valve, but not on the cold side. The other faucets get plugged after the handles in the discharge strainer (sorry, wrong term there... maybe aerator?). I didn't get any of this stuff out of the water heater when I did the flush, but this stuff floats and the drain is on the bottom. I didn't flush it 'empty', I just did a flush through.

    Any suggestions? I have some of the chalky material, can I take it to someone to figure out what it is? Thanks for your advice!!
  2. kordts

    kordts In the Trades

    Messages:
    551
    Location:
    exurban Chicago
    It's probably the dip tube from the water heater deteriorating. A good service plumber can fix it for you, unless the water heater looks like it should be replaced as well.
  3. GoTanklessToday

    GoTanklessToday In the Trades

    Messages:
    89
    Location:
    Renton, WA


    If you check the age of the water heater, you will likely find that the mfg date was 1993-1996. During this time, all water heater manufacturers were being supplied with faulty dip tubes. This created a huge class action lawsuit, and many thousands (millions?) of dollars worth of service calls. The best advice from someone who had dealt with this exact situation at least 300 times, is to REPLACE THAT HEATER. The heater can be flushed, but it isn't easy, its messy, laborous, and not really worth it since that heater is nearing the end of its life anyway. If you do plan to try and flush it, uninstall it and take it outside somewhere and remove nipples, T&P, and drain valve. Use high pressure to spray inside the tank as best as possible, from all angles possible, and allow it to flow out the drain valve opening. I made a special tool just for this out of 3/8 soft copper that would reach inside the tank and spray at different angles. After about 2 hours, you may get it all. Maybe not. Afterwards, reinstall new T&P, dip tube, and other nipples as necessary and reinstall.

    Once you are assured the heater isn't holding any more of the junk, then you can go to work flushing the pipes in the house. That's a whole different thread. Good luck!
  4. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    You can test to see if it is the dip tube by taking some of the substance and placing it in 1/2 a glass of vinegar and leave it there for an hour. If it is dip tube it will will not dissolve, if it is minerals it will.
  5. KrazyPlace

    KrazyPlace New Member

    Messages:
    4
    First of all. Thank you, all of you!

    I couldn't find a manufacturers date, but it is a:

    Rheem
    Model # 81V52D B
    Serial # R 0895126406

    How can I get the manufactures date from this?

    OK, after 1 hour, it is still there without ANY of it dissolving.

    I have a home warranty that covers the hot water heater, but not the piping (e.g. scaling or leaks, etc). I'll call it in to the warranty company as a bad water heater and see what the plumber says when he gets here. Any other suggestions? Should I try to get them to flush the lines as part of the work?
  6. Randyj

    Randyj Master Plumber

    Messages:
    1,047
    Location:
    Alabama
    In my area there are alot of older homes with similar problems...calcium or lime deposits that form inside pipes and break loose on their own as well as every time the pipes are tinkered with. Lots have to have filters on the main water line. Others need the filters plus their pipes need to be replaced. I worked on one last year that every pipe in the house was clogged from "stuff" growing in them. I was amazed that once I got them going again that they guy didn't take me up on my offer to repipe the house after I replaced the line from the meter.
  7. KrazyPlace

    KrazyPlace New Member

    Messages:
    4
    But in my case, the stuff isn't calcium/carbonate/water hardness, so I think I'm safe in the previous recomendations... right?
  8. Randyj

    Randyj Master Plumber

    Messages:
    1,047
    Location:
    Alabama
    Don't know... wish I knew a test for the calcium... will have to look it up. If it's not magnesium or aluminum it's gotta be some kind of mineral.
  9. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Your home warranty should cover replacement of the dip tube as log as you pay the deductible.
  10. GoTanklessToday

    GoTanklessToday In the Trades

    Messages:
    89
    Location:
    Renton, WA
    Pour a quart of water on the floor just before the plumber gets there...
  11. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    I see...... try and fool the tech who comes out to look at the problem so they can cheat the home warranty company out of a water heater?
  12. KrazyPlace

    KrazyPlace New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Randy, calcium diposits will disolve in acids... even weak acids like vinegar. I did try some Drain-O too and that didn't work either.

    Interesting enough... the home warranty people said they won't cover the dip tube. They said that 'technically' the dip tube wasn't a 'failure'. They said if the water is hot and if it flowed, that it has not 'failed'.

    I wouldn't try to cheat the warranty people even if they are of questionable integraty themselves. I'll see what a professional finds on Wednesday then work out the details with the warranty.
  13. GoTanklessToday

    GoTanklessToday In the Trades

    Messages:
    89
    Location:
    Renton, WA

    Lighten up there Officer Friday....

    I guess I should have clarified that I was just joking with that remark... I didn't realize people woudl take me serious. Of course I don't seriously suggest that kind of thing. Actually, a customer of mine tried that trick... I had a good laugh at his effort.
  14. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    I guess I couldn't tell you were joking.
  15. Pewterpower

    Pewterpower New Member

    Messages:
    262
    Location:
    Tampa
    You could also take a bottle of water to a pool place and they can check it for excess calcium. Usually for free.
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