White Mineral Clogging Hot Water Pipes

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  #1  
Old 01-15-05, 06:21 PM
pdh
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Red face White Mineral Clogging Hot Water Pipes

We are having a problem with some white mineral in our hot water pipes (only hot, cold is fine). All over the house, we have problems with it. I am assuming that it is either calcium or lime deposits. It clogs our faucets and shower heads so that they have to be cleaned out regularly. The hot water pressure is much lower than the cold water. If we fill the bathtub with hot water, we have lots of these minerals floating around in the tub.

Where is it coming from and how do I fix it? Is it just minerals in the water? Is it coming from the hot water heater? If there is a problem with the hot water heater, how can I tell? Once I have the problem fixed, how do I get the pipes cleaned out and have comparable water pressure on my hot water as with cold?

Background info:
All copper pipes in a 10 year old 3 story townhouse in Washington DC metro area with a gas hot water heater. Also, around the edge of where the pipes go in and out of the hot water heater is a mineral that somewhat resembles this mineral as well.
 
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  #2  
Old 01-15-05, 06:42 PM
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Hi pdh,
Welcome to the DIY Forums.
I would drain and flush the water heater. After flushing the heater several times I would take the supply lines loose on each hot water inlet for each sink and flush it also. Take the shower head off and flush it.Do these one at a time starting with the one closest to the water heater.

Do you have a decreased amount of available hot water? If so this can be caused by a crumbeling dip tube. You will have white particals in the hot water also. The difference is that these particals will melt when held over heat as they are plastic. Cheap and easy to replace. Water heater will still have to be drained and flushed as will the lines.

Link to how to info for draining and flushing water heaters.

http://forum.doityourself.com/showthread.php?t=134483

Good luck and reply back if you have further questions.

The mineral around the pipes sounds like electrolysis. This happens when 2 dissimilar metals come in contact with each other. This is why di-electric connectors/fittings are used.
 
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Old 01-17-05, 04:05 AM
pdh
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Wink Thanks for the advice

Thanks!

I tried the flush and it seemed to have helped, but only time will tell. I collected a couple pieces of the white stuff and held it over a candle and it did melt...and even burn. I am not sure if I should just replace the dip tube or if I should replace the whole water heater since it is nearing the end of its life span. I just wouldn't want to have to replace the dip tube and then replace the water heater a couple months later.

I can't say whether or not we have a decreased ammount of hot water since we have had this problem since we bought the house 1 1/2 years ago, but haven't noticed a significant difference since then.
 
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Old 01-17-05, 06:54 AM
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The reason I asked about decreasing amount of water is because that is a symptom of a bad dip tube. The dip tube is located in the opening for the cold water going into the heater (it just sits in the opening under the pipe). As the heater calls for more water, the cold water goes into the dip tube and is taken to the bottom of the heater and thus pushes the hot water out to the fixtures. If the dip tube goes bad, then the cold water "short circuits" and goes across to the hot outlet and you get warm water instead of hot or the hot is very temporary. Dip tubes are inexpensive (couple bucks) and can be installed in less than a half hour. You could check yours and replace if necessary. This would give you some time to save and shop for a new one at your leisure. Just a thought. Good luck.
 
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