Minerals blocking water lines


  #1  
Old 04-02-02, 12:19 AM
CDP
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Unhappy Minerals blocking water lines

I have an increasing problem with what appears to be small "sand size" and slightly larger pieces of what appears to be calcium carbonate in my water lines. All water lines in my home are copper. I have to take the top off my Fluid Master valves in my toilet tanks sometimes several times a day to clean out these particles. I also have to clean out the filters in my sink aerators frequently or the water will not pass through. My water heater is 16 years old and has not been drained regularly, but the main problem I have is with the cold water and toilets, not the hot water taps or showers. Could an older gas fired water heater still cause blocked cold water lines and toilet valves? The water heater still seems to work well and does not make noises or leak. This problem started about 5 years ago but has become very annoying during the past few weeks. Is there a different type of toilet valve that would allow these small pieces of minerals to pass through instead of blocking the valve? A couple of local plumbers and the city water department have been unable to identify the origin of the small mineral pieces or the offer a solution. None of my neighbors are having this problem. If anyone has run into a problem like this, your help in correcting it will be appreciated.
 

Last edited by CDP; 04-02-02 at 12:37 AM.
  #2  
Old 04-02-02, 07:02 AM
L
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You may have alot of corrosion in the pipes ( very possible if they are galvanized )and need to start changing pipes. Or maybe a whole house filter. Good luck Dave.
 
  #3  
Old 04-02-02, 07:54 AM
CDP
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My house is only 16 years old and all water pipes are copper. My neighbors all have copper piping as well and have none of the mineral problem I do. Should I still start pulling out all of my copper piping and replacing it?
 
  #4  
Old 04-02-02, 08:08 AM
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Are you on a well or public water?
If you're on a private well, you probably need to install a large micron sand filter, or a whole house water softener which removes calcium and magnesium that make for hard water.
Good Luck!
Mike
 
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Old 04-02-02, 08:34 AM
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I would also check to make sure that you do not have a leak under ground where dirt could get into the water line, even a joint that has opened up. Or whole house filter. Good luck!
 
  #6  
Old 04-02-02, 09:51 AM
ErikSBCCan
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I think you should verify that it is indeed calcium carbonate. Since your neighbours are not having the same problem it is possible something in your plumbing system is breaking down such as the water meter or pressure reducing valve etc. Some metals do appear as white crystals when they are corroding.
 
  #7  
Old 04-02-02, 10:16 AM
CDP
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Thanks for all of your suggestions. I am on city water and the water department has replaced the meter and I am still getting this "stuff". What ever it is (I'm quite sure it is calcium carbonate), it is easily crushed. I don't think it is sand. It color is from a cream color to a dark brown. Will copper pipes corrode?
 
  #8  
Old 04-02-02, 10:48 AM
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Yes, copper pipes and the brass valves on them (and any other metal) will corrode.
You can get the mineral build-up that has the colors that you mentioned from the water.
If the copper itself is leaching (say due to either acidic water or electrolysis), you would probably see blue-green.
I'm thinking that a whole house water softener is going to be necessary to solve the problem.
This is a puzzler, since your neighbors don't have the same problem with the same water. Do they have water softeners?
Mike
 
  #9  
Old 04-04-02, 07:20 AM
CDP
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I believe most of my neighbors have soft water. I do not. Do you feel the problem is probably with calcium carbonate building up in all of the copper water lines, rather than a specific problem with my older but functioning water heater? Especially most of the problem I am having is with the cold water (i.e. toilet valves). I have a couple of water softener companies coming to tell me what their products can do for me. I understand there are two types of softeners. The traditional one that uses a lot of salt and another that does not (Kinetico??). Any comments or recommendations? Thanks.
 
  #10  
Old 04-04-02, 07:46 AM
ErikSBCCan
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If you are on a city water supply and your neighbours have soft water without the use of a water softener you should not need a softener.

Your city should be able to tell you if softeners are gerneraly required in your area.

Something does not sound right here.
 
  #11  
Old 04-05-02, 08:25 AM
CDP
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Water in our city is very hard. I had a water softener salesman suggest to me that it might be possible that the calcium carbonate pieces were originating in the water heater and being syphoned back into the cold water lines where I am having most of the problem. Is this possible? If not what are the other possiblilties? Do I need a new water heater and a new water softener to solve my problem? Thanks again for all your help!
 
  #12  
Old 04-05-02, 08:55 PM
carri
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Are you sure that you are dealing with mineral build-up? Does it dissolve in vinegar? A disintegrating dip tube in the water heater causes all sorts of clogged valves. That is plastic; mine was like chalk and clogged all my faucets - it does not dissolve in vinegar.
I'm not sure how this would get into your cold water pipes, though
 
  #13  
Old 04-06-02, 12:58 AM
bethchem
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Lightbulb Mineral Deposits

I treat water for a living mostly in boilers and commercial cooling applications. I also work with waste and potable water issues.

It would appear unlikely for the hot water heater to be syphoned back to cold unless you've been experiencing a lack of hot water or had the need to turn up the temperature for an unexplained reason. This would also possibly warm your cold water depending on the size of the water heater and the legnth of time the hot water sits or flows. Do you have an valve between your water heater and your hot water supply line? In other words, can you shut off all hot water flow to your house? If you can live without hot water for a day, try closing the valve. Make sure you shut your water heater for safety. Run the water in all the areas that you have the most deposits. If the deposits are not present with the hot water off, then it is coming from the water heater. If they are still present, it is not likely that the water heater is the problem. That is assuming that it is not syphoning very sporatically.

I would not recommend replacing any of your plumbing yet. That is as long as you are not experiencing a loss in water volume. It is not likely that they will have substantial deposits that would cause restriction. Calcium Carbonate deposition is actually a slow process inside the pipes. Calciun (scale) deposition is fast where there is heat transfer. That can be water heater coil, the end of a faucet (evaporation requires heat exchange). That is why if you have hard water (that is water high in calcium and magnesium)your shower head will need to be cleaned or actually descaled with an acid(vinegar) frequently. You obviously don't have to descale the pipes that feed the shower. If you had the same rate of deposition inside the pipes, then hard water would not be an option at all. Or plumbers would be the highest paid professionals on the planet.

It would make sense to identify the deposit first. If you know what it is, you will have a better chance of locating where it is (or is not) coming from.

Common Contaminents found in rawvwater are calcium, Magnesium, Silica, Manganese, Chlorine, Iron and environmental waste. Most of these contaminents are suspended solids in the water.



Place a few pieces of your sample in a clean disposable container and add a few drops of, hydrochloric acid. If it foams, it is a calcium compound. (It would look similiar to using hydrogen peroxide on a cut). Calcium carbonate is one of several calcium compounds that can be found in raw water (city or well water). If no foam is present, there is no presence of calciun carbonate. Depending on how much it foams, can give you a rough idea of calcium base content.


If your city water is high in Total Hardness Calcium and Magnesium)then a softener may help. Due to the deposits not being present on shower heads or other hot water applications, it is questionable as to whether it is calcium. Calcium becomes less soluable as water temperature increases. That is why scale deposits show up 1st where there is heat transfer. In other words, it is more likely for solid calcium compounds to form in hot water.

Silica, Iron and Manganese are not as common, but can cause more severe deposition when present. Water softeners will not effect them.

Silica, becomes more soluable as water temperature rises. In other words, it is more likely for solid silica compounds to form in cold water. All water has silica(SiO2) content. Some more than others. Higher levels of silica and magnesium with increased alkalinity can form Quartzite, for instance.

Some cities add phosphate to reduce corrosion. Some add chlorine and/or flouride.

If your raw water is relatively low in Total Hardness, there is a greater chance of your municipality adding phosphate.

If these things did not help, get your water analyzed by a reputable lab. There are many good water softener sales professionals. Unfortunately there are a lot that only have very limitted knowledge. Remember, if calcium and magnesium are not your problem, then they have nothing to sell you. If you find you found someone you trust, still take your sample to the lab to make sure and check their test results. Also remember, you have been living with this for 5 years, don't rush. Another couple of months will not make a difference.

I hope this was half as helpful as it is long. Good Luck.
 
  #14  
Old 04-06-02, 07:32 AM
Jxofaltrds
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Go to Sears, Lowe's Or Home Depot and get an inline filter(about $40). If the particles are coming in from the city this will stop it.

$40 + filter + 1 hour of a plumbers time. Cheaper than replacing the lines. If this does not work you are not out that much money.
 
  #15  
Old 04-06-02, 07:47 AM
CDP
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Thank you all for the time you have taken to try to help me solve this problem. It is definitely a mineral, not part of a dip tube. Although I did have the dip tube replaced a couple of months ago, that may be what is stirring up the sediment in my water heater and causing it to somehow get in my cold water lines. I spoke yesterday with a plumber who had another theory. He asked what type of faucets I had in my house. When I told him they were all Moen (one in each of the two showers/tubs and four more in sinks) he thought it might be what he called "crossover". I replaced one Moen valve in the kitchen sink about one year ago. The others are all original with the house (16 years). This plumber said that this type of valve may sometimes allow the hot water to be pulled into the cold water lines, especially near the end of their useful lives. He thinks that this may be happening, and the reason I have been having more trouble for the past couple of months is the installation of the new dip tube which is stirring up the sediment off the bottom of the water heater and causing more to "crossover" and show up in the valves in the toilets and in the aerators in the sinks. Has anyone every run into this, and could this be an answer to my problem? How often should the valves in a Moen faucet be replaced anyway?
 
 

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