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Black particles in hot water  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Tue Feb 1st, 2005 11:45 pm
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Kids have been getting out of tub w/ black smears all over them. Discovered that black particles are coming out of hot water only and range in size from Course Ground Pepper to approx 1/2" long w/ irregular shape. Texture is rubber-like but smears like grease. Hard to remove from surface of tub, requires comet to clean. Local water authorities came out and said not coming from water source. Tested negative for Manganese or any natural occurence. Anode Rod seems to be in excellent condition, hot water tank is only 1 year old (whirlpool 50 gal). Help please!

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 Posted: Wed Feb 2nd, 2005 01:14 am
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eleent
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Hello: I can just about bet that you have the braided stainless steel supply lines hooked up to your heater and that the rubber lining inside is decomposing. If so, replace them with the corrugated copper or stainless lines. The problem will be gone!



Yours, Larry

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 Posted: Thu Feb 3rd, 2005 02:10 pm
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TC
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Thanks for the idea.



Our water supply is all made out of PEX!



Do you have any other suggestions??

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 Posted: Thu Feb 3rd, 2005 04:57 pm
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eleent
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Hello: What is between the PEX plumbing and heater? It is not normal to hook up PEX directly to the tank. Beyond that, is there any rubber or other flexible hose in the system? What you describe in your first post sounds exactly like what happens to rubber when chloramine is used to treat the municipal water.



Yours, Larry

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 Posted: Wed Feb 9th, 2005 12:24 pm
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TC
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Thank you for all your good advise Larry.



Our Pex is directly connected to the top of the hot water tank, unsure if this is a correct hook-up (a plumber friend did it for us). Whirlpool had two suggestions. One of which was the Anode rod, it checked out okay. The other was the "heat trap"? They sent two little rubber items (shaped like a bowl, not flat). I guess they are located under the top of the tank where the Pex connects to the tank. We haven't cut the Pex yet to get in there to see if they are dissentegrated or not. What is their purpose, and is it possible this is our problem. One mystery is that the kids bathtub has quit having the problem, like it has all been flushed out or something. Master tub is still having the problem. (same hot water tank)!

Thanks again.



TC

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 Posted: Wed Feb 9th, 2005 04:58 pm
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elenano
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The purpose of heat traps is to lower standby heat losses, in this case by preventing hot water from flowing up into the piping outside the tank during periods of inactivity, where it will radiate heat away continuously. The rubber flaps replace another scheme that used a floating ball. Those caused complaints because the ball rattled.



Randy Schuyler

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 Posted: Thu Feb 10th, 2005 04:29 pm
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eleent
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Hello: If only one tub has the problem now, it must originate in the plumbing rather than the tank. I'd start at that tub and work back to the heater, looking for anything other than PEX and copper. Also, is there anything else in your plumbing system, like a softener or carbon filter, that's out of the ordinary? Do you have an expansion tank, for example? That would be a great source of rubber!



Yours, Larry

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 Posted: Mon Nov 13th, 2006 03:47 am
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Mike D
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Ted,

We have a problem very similar to what you described. How was your problem resolved?

Thank You,

Mike D

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 Posted: Mon Nov 13th, 2006 03:49 am
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Mike D
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Our home has a similar system and problem with black specks in our hot water. We also have pex wiring and copper flex tubing to the water heater. What are the black specks? (Are they safe?) and how can we fix the problem?

Thank You,

Mike D 

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 Posted: Tue Nov 14th, 2006 12:13 am
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Ej
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Ted wrote: Discovered that black particles are coming out of hot water only and range in size from Course Ground Pepper to approx 1/2" long w/ irregular shape.
 
These are big pieces you are describing.  Big enough not to pass through the aerator of most faucets.  Of course tub faucets don't have aerators.  I would want to unscrew several aerators from the end of several different faucets to check if this condition exists.  If you only have this appear at one faucet then suspect that faucet.
 
If you are positive it is rubber then the only places that rubber is used as mentioned is in the nipples on top of the heater as heat traps.  Overall size of the rubber piece used in the nipple is about the size of a nickle.  Copper flex hoses have a rubber o-ring at the thread ends.  I would think if this much of the o-ring was gone then the hoses would be leaking.  Pressure regulators at the houses water supply have a large piece of rubber used to regulate pressure.  It could be this.
 
If you truly have checked all what have been mentioned then I would suggest buying a 3/4 inch line strain (about 12.00) and placing it on the heater's inlet line.  Wait a few days and check the screen.  If you don't see any rubber then place the strainer on the output side of the heater.  By doing this you will narrow your search and be pointed in the right direction.

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 Posted: Wed Apr 6th, 2011 12:39 am
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dougo4
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I had a similar problem with the hot water supply in my kitchen faucet.  It turned out that the rubber lining for the braided steel supply line was deteriorating.  I figure tubs are normally connected via copper (or PEX, as I learned here)... but if someone gets black flecks coming to a faucet, check the supply line coming from the valve in the wall =)

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 Posted: Sun May 1st, 2011 10:16 pm
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dknight5
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I found black flakes in my hot water about 6 years after installation of a new water heater.  Replaced rubber flexible supply line with stainless steel supply line and the problem is gone.  Attached are some pictures of the rubber supply line that caused the problem, the supply line cut in half showing the inner lining flakes, and some of the inner lining flakes on my finger.  The flakes feel and smear like graphite and were making a mess of the kids bath tub.

 

 

Last edited on Sun May 1st, 2011 10:33 pm by dknight5

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 Posted: Tue May 31st, 2011 05:21 pm
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needinghelp
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Do you know if this problem appears if there is any chloramine at all in the water supply?  Can you tell me how I identify the types of pipes/tubing you are suggesting I look for and eliminate?  I'd like to take a look myself before calling a plumber.

Many thanks.

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 Posted: Tue May 31st, 2011 06:49 pm
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elenano
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Braided stainless steel flex lines most commonly cause this problem. Copper flex lines and corrugated stainless ones don't have rubber liners.

Randy Schuyler

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 Posted: Tue May 31st, 2011 07:48 pm
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needinghelp
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Thanks.  I'll google those cables so I can identify them.

What should I get in place of them?  Is that something I could do myself?

Any idea why this is not mentioned during installation so we don't have to spend hours and $$ trying to figure this out?  How can we get word out that these hoses/connectors should not be used?

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 Posted: Wed Jun 1st, 2011 01:13 am
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elenano
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The issue doesn't come up that often. Probably for most people, it isn't a problem.

If the flex line is screwed on to a nipple at the tank end and a threaded adapter at the plumbing end, it is something you can easily do yourself. But if they are soldered to something, you may need help.

Randy Schuyler

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 Posted: Wed Jun 1st, 2011 01:42 am
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needinghelp
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Randy,

Thanks. 

Can you tell me what is okay to use in place of the flexible stainless steel connector?  What type of pipe/connector will not cause the problem?

Do you know what I can use to clean the tub of the residual black greasy stuff?  Mr. Clean is no longer cutting it.  Need something else/stronger.

Local municipality said there is chloramine in the water.

Blessings.

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 Posted: Wed Jun 1st, 2011 05:41 am
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elenano
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Just use copper flex connectors. I confess I don't know what removes decomposed rubber.

Randy Schuyler

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 Posted: Thu Jun 9th, 2011 03:47 pm
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needinghelp
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Back for more insight.  I looked at the pipe from the water heater to the bathrooom but do not see any flexible pipe/tubing.  Could I be missing something or not quite sure what I'm looking at/for?  All tubing/pipe appears to be PVC or copper (hard, not flexible).

I've noticed bigger particles when the water is warm versus tiny particles when the water is hot.

The best way I've found to clean the tub of the black spots is to use a dry cloth/paper towel.

Thanks.

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 Posted: Fri Jun 10th, 2011 01:14 am
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elenano
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I confess I'm puzzled. The symptoms indicate disintegrating rubber. If there are no braided stainless steel flex lines or copper lines, it can't be that, but there must be some rubber somewhere. I suggest you photograph the top of your water heater and post it here.

Randy Schuyler

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