Sediment in hot water pipes?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by sromero, May 5, 2005.

  1. sromero

    sromero New Member

    May 5, 2005

    Eight year old house with copper water pipes.

    Replaced water heater two years ago. Under warranty.

    Flushed new heater about three months ago.

    Shortly after that, hot water pressure diminished. First noticed it in upstaris shower. Lately have noticed it in all other hot water fauces.

    Cold water pressure is OK.

    Question: Could hard water sediment have entered the hot water supply system?

    If so, what can I do or have someone do to restore the hot water pressure?

  2. InspectorGadget

    InspectorGadget New Member

    Apr 10, 2005
    Sorry to hear about the hot water issue.

    While I am not nearly as experienced as most of the guys on this forum, I would have a hard time believing that you problem is due to hard water buildup in the copper pipes. If you drained the pipes and water heater recently, then you may have some air in the system somewhere. Having personally drained my system many times over the last few months, I have to repressurize the system in a specific order or I will get low pressure in some fixtures. Try to turn the water off and open all of your fixtures to drain it. Turn all of the fixtures off and then turn the water back on. Open the fixtures one at a time starting with the lowest in elevation and proceeding to the highest. It seems to work for me.

    I grew up in San Antonio, TX. and the water there is some of the 'hardest' water anywhere. The water source for all of south Texas is a limestone aquifer and limestone scale tends to foul up showerheads and faucets within 10 years or so. I lived in one house for 10+ years and never had any problems with copper pipes. Showerheads and faucets are another story.

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  4. sromero

    sromero New Member

    May 5, 2005
    Thanks. I'll try that and will keep you posted.
  5. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Aug 17, 2004
    Bothell, Washington
    If you have small hard particles, it could be the dip tube breaking up and clogging things.

    One time, it was the short piece of pipe from the water heater that had a faulty check valve in it. I replaced those and pressure and volume were fine.
  6. Master Plumber Mark

    Master Plumber Mark Master Plumber

    Feb 6, 2005
    Sensitivity trainer.. plumber of mens souls
    indianapolis indiana - land of the free, home of
    back flush the hot side of the system

    Terry is probably right about the DIP TUBE

    but just changeing a bad one out is not enough.....

    the plastic crap lays dormant in the pipes and waits to spring to life and clog up faucets when a high volume moment happens.

    the high volume stirs up the sediment in the lines and even thouigh you have already changed the tube months ago its still hanging around waiting to cause trouible.

    heres what you do,
    I do this all the time when we change a "suspicious water heater"

    1 you take the areators off a couple of faucets in your house and clog up the faucets with toilet paper then screw back on the areators. make a good seal.

    2. now you shut off the hot water pressure to the water heater.

    3 now you open the drain valve on the water heater and either let it drain to the sump pump or put a hose on it and drain it to a drain or outsied.
    Leave that faucet ON and draining....... but turn off the electricity or turn the gas down to LOW.

    4 now you go to those faucets and turn on both the pressurised cold side and turn on the dead hot water side at the same time.

    what will happen if you have done a good job stopping up the lav and kitchen faucets is
    the cold water pressure will flow back through the hot water system and force all the dip tube bullshhit in the lines back into the water heater

    also it actually better if you have a laundry tub near the water heater to blow it back through the laundry faucet
    instead of flushing the crap back into the heater and out the hose faucet, you flush it out through the laundry tub faucet...

    this works great , if youi go around and turn on the faucets and let one blow back for a few minutes it will certanly flush out the hot wter system...

    its also good to "gun" the cold side a couple of times turning on and off the cold water this sort of really blasts water back through the hot line...

    when you have done all the faucets a good turn or two, take the areators off and blow out the toilet paper.

    then turn the pressure to the water heater back on and I think you will be surprised how much better the hot side will be.

    very simple and very easy to do
  7. sromero

    sromero New Member

    May 5, 2005
    Back flush the hot side of the system

    Sounds like a good job for Monday Morning!

  8. Kevin @ ProSpex

    Kevin @ ProSpex New Member

    May 9, 2005
    Sedimant in hot water pipes

    While the dissolved minerals in water can precipitate out of solution anywhere in a plumbing system, heat and/or reduction in pressure is typically responsible for almost all visible hard water mineral build-up or accretion(bicarbonates of calcium and magnesium) on plumbing system components.

    When water goes from a pressurized state in a pipe to a depressurized state where it exits the pipe at a showerhead or faucet aerator, the water becomes agitiated and gases in the water such as CO2 are released from the water increasing the pH of the water. All of this causes the minerals to clump, come out of solution, and accrete (accumulate) on the the surfaces of fixtures, enclosures, showerheads, and faucet aerators.

    All this being said, it is more likely that the problem you're experiencing is a result of the deterioration of the water heater dip tube. Given the age of the system, the water heater was probably manufactured with a plastic dip tube made by Perfection Corporation of Madison, Ohio. These dip tubes were not impervious to the chemicals and temperature conditions in water heaters and they deteriorated inside of the tank. The result (besides tank inefficiency) is that small pieces of the deteriorated dip tube plastic are carried through the hot water piping system and lodge in shower heads and faucet aerators. You can determine if this is the case by removing a clogged aerator and looking for small bits of white to brownish white material in the screen. Remove this material,allow it to dry, and then apply a flame to the material. If it melts, smokes, or burns, it's material from the dip tube.

    If the above is the case, the procedure to follow is first to remove the old dip tube (it should show evidence of deterioration) and replace it. Then, follow the proper procedures for draining, flushing, and refilling the tank. Next, remove all showerheads and faucet aerators and open the hot water valves
    to flush out the hot water lines. Once the lines are flushed out, close the hot water valves, clean the showerheads and faucet aerators of all particulate matter and reinstall them, and relight or restore power to the water heater.

    I hope this helps. Let me know if the dip tube was deteriorated. Thanks
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