white stuff in my faucets

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by donk, Dec 15, 2008.

  1. donk

    donk New Member

    Messages:
    34
    Hi - can someone maybe tell me what these tiny white stone-like pieces are that I find in my aerators all the time? They clog up the water flow. Since about a year or 2 ago I've had to remove and clean the aerators maybe twice a week. Mainly it's the kitchen sink faucet that gets clogged - it's weird that the other 3 bathroom faucets hardly ever get clogged.
    So can you tell me what this stuff is, and how to get rid of it?
    Thanks,
    Donk
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    First thing is to check the date on your water heater. It is often the first part of the serial. If it is a letter code, tell us the brand , or go the the website of that manufacturer to decode.

    Anyway, if your water heater dates to the early/mid '90s, you are suffering the infamous dip tube problem. Google dip tube to find out all about it.


    To confirm did tube pieces, place some chunks in a teaspoon of white vinegar. The plastic will not dissolve. If your problem is actually mineral deposites, they will dissolve.
  3. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

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    7,384
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    Ditto on the dip tube. My old mid 90's water heater was involved in the bad dip tube problem and I replaced it maybe 4 years ago. About 6 or 8 months ago, I began to notice flushed the tank and shortly after that began to notice the hot water to my washer was extremely slow. Thought it was a bad hose, so finally got around to replacing hoses. Didn't help. Then just yesterday I removed the hose from the washer and found the intake screen was packed almost solid with those white granules. Cleaned them out and problem solved. In you case, I'd check the dip tube.
  4. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

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  5. donk

    donk New Member

    Messages:
    34
    Thx for the replies. I checked and it does seem I have a disintegrating dip tube in my water heater. It's code is 1995, and the white particles don't dissolve in vinegar.

    I'm wondering what to do about it. I will maybe be able to install a dip-tube (with a little help from you guys). I doubt I'd be able to install a new 50 gal tank myself. So a tank is gonna cost me around $300-400. And a new dip tube maybe $30.
    So far there's no effect on the amount of hot water we get.

    Question: If I replace the dip tube and don't flush the tank, will the remaining particles eventually all come out through my faucet aerators?
    Any thoughts on this whole mess will be appreciated.

    Thx,
    Donk
  6. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Flushing the tank will help. Otherwise, you may still have recurring problems with clogged aerators, and worse than that...clogged cartridges.

    Don't know where you are....if in Los Angeles County, the new water heaters with the flux capacitor will run you closer to $600. Install...$250 to $500 depending on a lot of things.
  7. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

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    7,450
    Location:
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    Flux Capacitor?
    Thats the new name for Low-NOX?
  8. kingsotall

    kingsotall Plunger/TurdPuncher

    Original inventor of the flux capacitor:

    [​IMG]
  9. Probedude

    Probedude New Member

    Messages:
    137
    Location:
    CA
    Nope, it's the Flammable Vapor Ignition Resistant (FVIR) ones.

    I was shocked when I had to replace mine 2 months ago. I remember water heaters costing $180 and they're now $500!

    I think they're just covering their warranties by making you pay for the replacement unit up front.

    (google Whirlpool FVIR water heaters)
  10. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Whirlpool is old news! Check the thread right in this forum.
    Google will probably only bring you back here.

    In California there is an area that is referred to as the South Coast Air Quality Management District "SCAQMD" where water heaters are required to meet exhaust emission standards. C.E.C. Title 24, and SCAQMD Rule 1121 (10ng/J NOx limit).

    http://www.aqmd.gov/

    This requirement will probably spread from that area into other areas with air quality problem. If you think FVIR added a headache and cost to water heaters you ain't seen nothing yet!
  11. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

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    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego

    Not just LoNox. It is Ultra Low Nox, required in LA and certain other counties. I started using that term, because the burner assembly looks like nothing I have ever seen before! It is little large, so they had to take a couple gallons out to maintain height. Models are available in 28,38, and 48 gallons.
  12. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    The State DEP here is mentioning those words...
    Ultra Low NOX...
    SCAQMD...
    I guess we'll be seeing them soon too!
    Of course we'll probably be competing with handymen who cross state lines to get a regular FVIR water heater to install illegally while we do it right!
  13. Probedude

    Probedude New Member

    Messages:
    137
    Location:
    CA
    Thanks - it's old news but they're still using a small intake screen. I'm glad I found out about it before I bought one 2 months ago. FWIW, the water heater rescue page was my source of info. Ironically 3 other people I know replaced their water heater within days of mine going out - I got to educate them all with what I had found out. Only wish I had remembered to check the anode on my old tank seeing that I know that tanks on a water softener eat their anodes quicker.

    Thanks for the info. I've been seeing low NOx water heaters for a long time, our 80% furnace from 6 years ago has a big sticker on it saying "CA NOx retrofit complete". I didn't think they were messing with the NOx limits again.

    Along those lines, they keep lowering the allowable tailpipe NOx emissions too. Last year I had to put new catalytics in all my vehicles to pass smog since they used to squeak by with the older limits.

    L.A. isn't as smoggy anymore compared to what it used to look like when I was a kid.
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2008
  14. Cass

    Cass Plumber

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    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Since it's 13 years old you may just want to replace it...
  15. theplumber

    theplumber Member

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    49
    Location:
    CA
    calcium-magnesium silicate. Produced from impurities that come in from the city water supply. You have no recourse against your water supplier due to the expenses u incur because of it. The white junk is coming from your water heater. Replace it, problem will go away.

    Yes it's an expensive fix, but it's the only way you'll get the white stuff to go away for the next 5 to 6 years at the least usually.
  16. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Nope it's plastic!
  17. labdaddy

    labdaddy New Member

    Messages:
    1
    similar problem

    I have a very similar problem. White stuff in the faucet along with the toilet lines. The problem seems to be only in the cold water lines. House is about 7 years old.
  18. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    If its cold that has the problem then your problem is very different.
  19. kingsotall

    kingsotall Plunger/TurdPuncher

    Do the vinegar test labdaddy.
  20. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,026
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    heaters

    As of last Wednesday, 12/31/2008, conventional gas heaters cannot be sold or installed in the Southern California area.
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