Black specks in bathtub please help!

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by Ry01, Oct 15, 2020.

  1. Ry01

    Ry01 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2020
    Location:
    Toronto
    Hi everyone,

    I live in a condo and for the past 3 years I have having issue with black specks showing up in the bathtub after use. Sometimes I can see actually specks in the water and I can move it around. Other times it would smudge and leave an oily trial. Sometimes you don't even see the specks but when you drain the tub, you would see the black smudge on the tub.

    The issue is mainly with the bathtub but I do notice it occasionally in the standup shower but very rare. The super at my building opened up the faucet and cleaned the washers in the bathtub but it didn't fix the issue.

    I spoke to someone of the same floor as me and they said they noticed black specks appearing in their sinks sometimes.

    The PRV values and water heater tank was recently cleaned. After the cleaning, there were a lot less black specks (maybe 3-4 in a full tub of water). However in the past couple of weeks, the black specks have gotten worse again. As per management, the anode rod was also cleaned and still have 3-5 years life left.

    Anyone have an idea what might the issue be and is there any potential health risk from using the water for a long period of time?

    The building is 9 years old and I believe this is the first time the tank was cleaned. How often should a condo's water be cleaned?



    Thanks!



    black specks 1.jpeg
     
  2. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    Look for braided lines into, out of the water heater, and braided lines into the tub faucets. Those are rubber inside, and those can deteriorate.

    Corrugated copper and stainless don't have that problem. Better braided lines will probably not have that problem, but how do you know which are good?
     
  3. Sponsor

    Sponsor Paid Advertisement

     
  4. Ry01

    Ry01 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2020
    Location:
    Toronto
    Thanks, I mentioned this to management before but I was told there's no rubber parts present in the system at all. The issue was much better right after the tank cleaning but it got worst again couple of weeks after.
     
  5. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    You don't have your own water heater?
     
  6. Jeff H Young

    Jeff H Young In the Trades

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2020
    Location:
    92346
    building management vs tenant or unit owner. the guy your talking to might not even know whats being used for connectors. They arent interested in our opinions , but my opinion is they need to figure it out even if it means throwing some money at hiring a pro. but listen to what an owner read on a diy forum might not be high priority
     
  7. Ry01

    Ry01 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2020
    Location:
    Toronto
    No, the water heater is with the building.
     
  8. Ry01

    Ry01 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2020
    Location:
    Toronto
    Yah.. even in the beginning, the manager was very reluctant to do anything. When we showed him the issue, he said it's just soap residue even after I told him that few different plumbers I spoke to all suggest it's the water heater tank and the first step would be to clean the tanks.

    How often should a building's water tank be cleaned/serviced normally?
     
  9. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    There are cartridge filters suitable for hot water.
     
  10. Ry01

    Ry01 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2020
    Location:
    Toronto
    That's something the building installs or is it for individual units?

    Also if the cause of the problem is not within my unit, I would much rather have management fix it. Just that they aren't willing to look into the issue so I'm doing the research myself.
     
  11. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    I was thinking for your own unit on your own dime.
     
  12. Ry01

    Ry01 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2020
    Location:
    Toronto
    Ah I see.

    I'm wondering if the issue is still with the water tank. The specks were mostly gone initially after the cleaning but that lasted about 2 weeks before it started getting worse. It's not as bad as how it was before the tank cleaning. I would say now, on a full tube of water, there's about 10-20 black specks/smudge roughly.
     
  13. Marlinman

    Marlinman In the Trades

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2018
    Location:
    Florida
    The same happened to me in my home. I thought I tried everything until I opened the back side of the shower valve. there was 2 stainless braided lines going to the valve. Once removed I knew that was the problem. Like mentioned earlier the interior of the older lines were rubber. They are now Saniprene or other vinyl product.
     
    Reach4 likes this.
  14. Ry01

    Ry01 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2020
    Location:
    Toronto
    I was told by management the building use copper and pex pipes and that there's no rubber components. Any other idea what might be the cause?
     
  15. Jeff H Young

    Jeff H Young In the Trades

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2020
    Location:
    92346
    get new management
     
  16. Ry01

    Ry01 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2020
    Location:
    Toronto
    Haha I wish.. the manager has been nothing but nightmare to deal with. Often ignoring emails.
     
  17. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    There was another Toronto condo homeowner that was experiencing similar issues within the past year. https://terrylove.com/forums/index....er-inner-tank-construction.87522/#post-628037

    I suspect Lake Ontario water may be reacting with a magnesium anode rod to cause it to rapidly corrode and slough-off small pieces. Even as the rod may appear to have considerable service life remaining, non-powered anode rods are sacrificial so they corrode and breakdown in the water. Edit: Magnesium alloys that are lighter than water will float and exit the WH through the hot water connection at the top of the tank.

    Because there are other anode rod materials which will also similarly protect other metal components within a water heater, perhaps an aluminium or zinc rod may be less reactive and not lead to the issues you are experiencing. Alternately, an electrically powered anode rod will not be sacrificial but will function in an alternate manner to protect the other metal components.

    If there are only a few owners that are complaining, the Property Manager will more likely consider the issue is not universal but probably caused by activities those few residents may be doing themselves.

    You may wish to obtain feedback from other owners so as to identify a broader concern which is affecting a large number of owners. You could then communicate those concerns in writing to your corporation's Board of Directors who are ultimately responsible for maintaining the corporation's assets and delivering the services the corporation is required to provide.

    If the corporation's AGM is soon to be held, you could also request for the matter to be added for discussion to the meeting agenda. Due to COVID-19 precautions, Ontario Condo AGM's are currently permitted to be held electronically.

    Edit to add an additional comment and the link to the previous thread.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2020
    LLigetfa likes this.
  18. Ry01

    Ry01 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2020
    Location:
    Toronto
    Thanks for the info! I asked about the anode rod during the recent cleaning and I was told it was good and still has 5/6 years life left.

    I spoke to another owner on the same floor as me. She didn't notice the issue at first until I told her about it. When I saw her again, she said she noticed the issue in her sink sometimes.

    The black specks are only really noticeable in the bathtub. The only other place I sometimes see it would be in the standup shower. I was told by the building's plumber that it's probably because the water pressure in the bathtub's faucet is stronger than the other faucets in the unit.

    The board has been made aware of the issue. I brought it to their attention when the property manager was ignoring my emails. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like they want to do much after the tank cleaning.
     
  19. Ry01

    Ry01 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2020
    Location:
    Toronto
    The issue was better the few couple of weeks after tank cleaning but is starting to get worse again. If the building is 9 years old and the tank was only cleaned recently, could issue be due to lack of proper maintenance? I recall reading somewhere that if a tank has not been cleaned for along time, the built of sediments makes it hard to completely clean the tank. Is that true?
     
  20. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    You might have better luck getting the building management to filter the hot water with a special filter. They would want a 3-valve bypass and a pair of pressure gauges. They would want the the filter and other hot water stuff insulated, but they would want to be able to change the cartridge.

    A cartridge filter has the side effect of diagnosing how much stuff they are dealing with.

    People in general have a built-in tendency to see patterns, even if they are not there. Is there an access panel that would let you see your lines to the tub, as discussed in #12?
     
  21. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    As there has been no lab analysis of the particles, we can only speculate on their source.

    Regardless of the remaining service life, if the exsisting anode rod is reacting in the water to cause particles to be released, then replacing the anode rod with one made from another material may resolve the issue. Alternate anode materials exsist as one type is not appropriate for all water conditions. The reaction may not be with the water itself but could be due to the Chloramine (chlorine and ammonia) added to Toronto water instead of plain Chlorine.

    With regard to cleaning, it is generally simpler and less costly to remove contaminants and minerals from the water that cause scaling and sediment before they enter the water heater. A water softener can soften the incoming water to remove calcium and Magnesium minerals that mainly cause scale accumulation. A filtration system utilizing Catalytic Carbon is typically utilized to remove Chloramine as well as many other chemicals and contaminants .

    Unless a majority of unit owners including Directors are recognizing the issue themselves and are demanding for the problem to be corrected at point of entry, your condo BoD is unlikely to consider addressing an issue they perceive is not an actual problem that is needed to be addressed by the condo corporation.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2020
Similar Threads: Black specks
Forum Title Date
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Black specks in hot water in master bathtub Jul 12, 2017
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice black specks in water filter Nov 21, 2011
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Black Specks - AGAIN Dec 16, 2008
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Two New Faucets - One Has Rusty Water, Black Specks Mar 7, 2007
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Buildup in trap and drain pipe - black sludge Sep 25, 2020

Share This Page