• Geoff Burke

Debris in Your Tap Water? Let's See Why!

Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s episode of “How NOT to Call the Plumber!”. We’re back again to answer all of those burning plumbing questions you never knew you had.

Have you ever run the bath, shower, or filled up a glass of water and found tiny, floating black specks in the water? This week, we’re going to learn what those specks are and what we do to get rid of them!

Debris in the water can be caused by quite a few things, but we look at 3 typical sources:

1. Corroded Pipes

Pipe corrosion happens over time, where irregular pieces of the pipe will flake off and find their way into the water system and often showing up as black specks in the cold water supply. This happens more with metallic piping, such as copper or galvanized pipe. Unfortunately, the fix for this isn’t usually straight forward, and would likely require calling the plumber! It could mean a partial or full re-piping of the home.

2. Corrosion from the Water Heater

Similar to what is happening inside older pipes, the inside walls or other internal parts of a hot water tank can also start to corrode and flake off. As you would expect, the specks would show up primarily when you run the hot water. People often notice this the most while running a bath, as the contrast between the floating debris can be seen quite easily in contrast to the white tub.

The good news, is this is often quite easily solved (temporarily) by a flush of the hot water tank to remove any debris that is in there. Hot water tanks should be flushed on an annual basis not only to prevent debris in the water, but also to prolong their lifespan. Eventually, all hot water tanks need replacing, so if after a good flushing you still have this issue, it may be time to replace the tank altogether!

3. Broken/Flaking Internal Parts of Faucets, Valves, etc.

Lastly, if the debris is located primarily at one location, we would suspect that the issue is either with the fixture itself, or the valves that control that fixture. When this happens, the debris is usually rubbery and will leave streaks if rubbed against a white surface. It is often a corroding rubber gasket or part of a flexible supply line. The fix for this is often replacing a faucet, cartridge, valves, or whatever we find is causing the issue - usually a quick fix!

When we’re called in for something like this, the hardest part of the diagnosis is finding the source. As mentioned above, this debris can come from any number of places, but once we’ve found the source, we can come up with a plan of action!