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Question DetailsAsked on 1/17/2017

I have sediment in my water and do not know where it is coming from.

The problems started a year ago when I started to see a lot of sediment in my water. I thought it was cuz of my hot water heater (since we recently installed a new one). I contacted the water heater company & they told me to check my toilet tank & see if there was sediment there, which there was. So I dont think its the water heater.
They also recommend I flush my water heater. So I call my plumber to come & flush it & when he does we find fistfuls of sediment (see picture So I thought that with periodic flushing it would be ok, but the sediment keeps coming back & has now damaged my shower system and my dishwasher.
I was told by another plumber to install a whole home water filter to fix the sediment issue but,I wanted to make sure the sediment is coming from the city. So I had someone come from the city and test the water. He took a jug and filled it up & said he found no sediment. He also said that if it was the water, neighbors would also see it

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7 Answers

Voted Best Answer

Here are a couple of previous questions with answers on the pipe sediment issue FYI -


Let me address your question item by item here - in no particular order, though I think 5) or 6) is most likely the cause -

1) Think back to a year ago - was there something else changed - in the piping, new or rehabbed well or pump, more people living in the house (so much higher water demand), etc ? Ifnew outdoor piping was put in, I guess could be a bunch of backfill sand got into it during construction, but that is awful clean for backfill sand unless you live in St Peters sandstone country (upper Mississippi Valley area states across to Indiana - a VERY clean pure sandstone).

2) Sediment/rust in water heater means nothing by itself - you need to check by running high cold water flow (full faucet/hose flow to fill 5 gallon bucket say) to see if similar material shows up there - if so, then likely not water heater sourced. If ONLY in hot water tank/lines, then water heater becomes the prime suspect unless slimy orange or brown, in which case iron.manganese algae forming in hot water pipes is the suspect.

3) The toilet tank check only works if you do NOT have tempered water (hot and cold mixed in a tempering valve or mixing piping) to prevent toilet tank sweating - probably well over 3/4 of toilet installations these days have tempering/mixing valves, so they get both hot and cold water when they refill. You would need to check on hot and cold lines separately to see if sediment only coming through one or both. (Check incoming water or feel side of tank when toilet is refilling, and compare to cold faucet flow - tempered water coming into a toilet tank would feel warmer than cold fauceet flow - usually luke to moderately warm, though hot if valve is malfunctioning).

4) to check if source is internal to house or from outside, you would have to run water at or very close to the entry point to the house - you might have a low-point drain faucet at the house shutoff valve you could run water from, or might have to break a joint or cut the incoming pipe right after the house shutoff valve to run water and see what incoming water looks like at full flow.

5) that is unlike any pipe sediment I have ever seen - it looks like either a clean sand, or filter media or salt from a water treatment system. If you have a water filtration/ treatment system with sand filtration bed or resin media, check it out to see if some of that media is moving through the line - maybe the screen/filter on the output side of the tank is missing or punctured, or the tank was hooked up backwards. Or on the flush cycle it is not closing the house line and opening the waste line to backflush, so you are getting media in the house pipes that way. If not too yucky a thought, taste it - is it rock salt or resiny (depending on which type of system you have) ? Does it crush readily - almost all line deposits and of course salt will crush to powder or mush if you press on it with say the back of a spoon - sand will not noticeably crush and will scratch spoon. Compare with the media/salt you load into the system, and to the sand in the sand filtration tank if you have one.

6) could also be, if on a well system, filter media from a wellhouse sand filtration tank, or well screen packing sand being pulled in by the pump. Check at drain valve on filter tank (usually there is one right at bottom of or after the tank), and also at the usual line drainage/test valve faucet just on the output side of the pump (usually right after pump on surface mounted pumps, on incoming line from the well on submersible) to see if the sediment is coming from the pump system. On above checks, if only at first spot but not on line from well, then filter tank (if you have one) is letting sand out of it - broken or corroded screen. If on both, or primarily on line from well, then could be your well screen has dislodged or corroded through and the wellpack (the sand that surrounds the screen and keeps surrounding soil from coming into the well - which is very commonly St Peters sand) is leaking into the well and being pumped up, meaning well servicing time by a Well and Pump company - would mean pulling pump/riser pipe and putting in new screen if that is the case. Or if water level in well has been getting low at the end of a pump cycle, if open-bottomed well a pump can pull in sand from the bottom sometimes.

7) Did you ask neighbors (assuming public water system) if they have the same problem ? Could be some leakage of backfill sand into a pipe trenched line somewhere (though soil entering water lines is pretty uncommon, plus would have to get from public supply commonly at least several inches to a foot or more up to the inlet of your line, so would have to be a LOT of it in the public liens. Could also be, if you are on a coop or local water district and downhill from their water processing facility, that they have filtration sand getting from the processing plant into the water lines and on to you.

8) Considering what he got out of the water heater, how pure looking it is (very little iron or manganese present) - and how coarse it is - I don't see how it could be caused by the water heater, so I would guess the water heater is acting as a trap for the sediment (meaning your hot water lines might flow fairly or totally clean, because I can't see that stuff making it to the top of the water heater to get into the hot water lines), but the cold water lines would carry the sediment. Unless it is some sort of lining material for the water heater that is breaking down - like a glass lining deteriorating. Would takedrainging the tank and running a fiber optic camera look into the tank from the top pipe ports to determine that. I have heard of chunks of glass liner in the bottom of tanks, but never granulated material like that.

9) one last possibility, though I have never seen it accumulate anything like that - if the particles are softish and will not scratch glass or metal but do not crumble or crush real readily, and feel like plastic, there were some brands of PEX tubing (flexible plastic hose-like water piping) from a couple of decades or so ago which broke down to plastic granules from the chlorine in normal public water supplies. Remotely possible it is from that if you have flexible plastic water piping in the house.


10) On the water company guy checking the water - if he filled a jug (assuming at full flow to mobilie it) if he did not run the water a bit first to get the stuff moving it would not have showed up maybe - also, assuming this was a plastic water or milk jug, I doubt a bit of that sediment would show through the bottom if that is how he looked at it - would need a glass jar probably to see it in the bottom from the outside. Of course, if he gently decanted the water and then looked down inside sediment should have showed up if it was there - but I am not confident a gallon or so of flow, especially since probably not full flow for much of the filling time, would have mobilized enough to see it even if it was in the lines - a clean 5 gallon pail would likely be needed to get a noticeable amount out.

11) Dishwasher could have a clogged inlet screen (on connection to dishwasher where line coming from sink hooks up) - though I guess enough might have gotten by to damage the pump. But I would bet disconnect the incoming line and remove/access screen element and clean it with a fine paintbrush (or wash out if removeable) and dishwasher will likely work OK. Ditto on clothes washer - usually there is (at least should be) an inlet screen either on the water hose at the faucet end, at the inlet fitting to the washer which the hose connects to, or both in many cases. On both hoses. Shower damage could occur in seals/gaskets in the valve I guess, especially in single-handle valves though replacing the soft parts with a rebuilde kit might solve that, but if reduced shower flow is the problem there is almost always a screen at the inlet end of the shower head - unscrew shower head and clean it out.

Good Luck finding out what it is and where it is coming from - and do me a favor and post back here (using the Answer This Question yellow button right below the question) what you find the source and material is.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD


Wow, LCD, thank you for such a detailed answer. I really appreciate the time you put in. I have answered your questions below. Thank You again for your response. I have a few follow up questions below if you do not mind. Thank you again!!!

1) Nothing else that changed that I can think of. I had someone come look at my furnace (he didn't do anything to the furnace) and he noticed the water heater was leaking from the top. So, I went out and got a new one. I had it installed and didnt have any issues until I started seeing the sediment issues. At first the faucet would be clogged every couple weeks, then couple days, then after a few minutes would get clogged. That is when I had the plumber come and flush it. That is what the picture is.

When I contacted GE about the water heater, they said it is not the water heater since all it is is an empty tank and a heating rod. He also mentioned that newer water heaters circulate water to get rid of sediment, where as older ones allow sediment to sit on the bottom. I do not know if any of this is true, but thats what he said and my plumber said it makes sense.

2)When I flushed the hot water heater, I turned on/off the cold water a couple times to make sure everything was out, per the water heater instructions. Each time some sediment came out, but less and less each time. Also, I am not sure if that was new sediment or leftover sediment that was still in there.

3)So if I understand this correctly, you are saying my toilet fills with a mix of hot and cold water? I flushed it and compared the temperature to the faucet on cold, and they felt about the same. It did feel like there was a warm pocket in the water, but I do not know if that was just my imagination. Overall, I would say it was more cold than lukewarm.

4) I beleive the city worker did this already. Where the water comes in from the city, there is a hose outlet right next to it. That is the water jug he filled up. Also when he left, I sat there running the water on high through a filter and didnt see anything.

5)I do not have any water filtration system at the moment. I am contemplating getting one to fix this issue, but just want to make sure it will fix it before I spend all that money. It does not crush, it feels sort of like a wet soft sand. But not to the point where it can be smashed. I placed a chunk of it in a cup of vinegar and there was no reaction at all. It also has no smell that I can pick up.

6)I am not on a well system and I am unfamiliar with a lot of these terms, but I will show it to my plumber. But the city worker came out and checked everything from the city's end and he said everything looked OK.

7)I asked my direct neighbor and she has not seen any issues. She is the person closest to me (my neighborhood has a funky layout).

8) The first thing I thought it was would be the water heater, since that is the most immediate change. So when I called the water heater company and he said something similiar, that there is nothing on the inside except for a heating element and a glass encasing. He admitted it could be something initially, but said it is hard for him to see it coming back. He offered me to exchange the water heater for a new one, but at this point, I do not know if it is worth it to pay someone to change something that may not be the problem.

9)How would I go about checking if I have PEX tubing and would it be a huge deal to swap out.

10)I thought the same thing. It was a half gallon jug. I felt having a larger amount would be a better representation of the water. But he did fill it up a few times and shake the water around. So, I do not know if that was any help.

11) Yeah that is what happened with the dishwasher. We already got that fixed. Regarding the shower, the company said sediment probably got in the valves and ruined them. So they sent me a new diverter valve and a new temperature control valve. But I am scared to install them again, until I have this sediment issue resolved. For the low pressure, he said the same thing, to clean them out and soak in CLR.

Answered 3 years ago by ali123


Hmmmm - here is what I would do to try to solve this issue - you might choose to do one or more checks/tests yourself or have a plumber take a similar approach, or you might skip ahead to installing a simple pre-sediment filter and a normal water filter unit (canister type in-line filters) at a point right after where the water line enters the house to see if that stops the inflow of material - though of course if the source is within the house that would not solve the problem at all, and your response about using a filter after the water company guy came implies to me it is not coming in from outside.

When you flushed the water heater, you got less and less material out each time - that would be expected whether the water heater was the source, or it was trapping sediment coming in through the cold water line from elsewhere "upstream" of it - you would get progressively less out with each flushing. Actually, the right way to flush this sort of material from the tank would have been to disconnect the pipes, run a curved piece of tubing or hose down into the tank from the top, tilt it about 45 degrees, and roll and tilt it back and forth while jetting a spray of water into it from the top - a plumber action to do that for most people. Just draining it out, with or without fresh water coming in, I would not expect to get it all, though certainly might have gotten the bulk of it. But it is possible there would have been deposits around the perimeter of the tank or in one side which the incoming water was not flushing out, which could then make their way into your vales and faucets again down the road.

I agree on the plumber/GE thought - normally this sort of sediment, unless it is plastic or resin and floats or nearly floats, would stay in the bottom of a water heater - so if sand it pretty much has to be one of the models that has a swirl inlet tube that drops the incoming cold water to the bottom of the tank in a tube that spirals around at the bottom, causing a vortex in the bottom of the tank to mix the incoming cold and the bottom-of-tank just heated hot water - which could also get the sediment mixed into the water well enough that some could make it into the hot water piping as you consume hot water.

On the toilet tank - you could feel the tank itself for warmth after it has filled all the way up, or take the tank cover off and feel the incoming water to feel if it is distinctly chilly or warm - or use a kitchen probe thermometer or medical thermometer to see if they are the same. If warm, it tells you nothing about the source because it is getting hot and cold water - if cold water only, since you found sediment in there, I would say the sediment is in the cold water lines as well as the hot.

A water softener or tank-type sand pre-filtration sediment control unit is really my prime guess as to the culprit here - or sand in the waer heater initially.


I would start with determining what the material is, then trying to tie down the source - how hard this is to do depends on where you have high-flow faucets (with strainers removed) or hose bibs (hose connections) scattered around in the house, and also how much of a DIY'er you are. Though if you know a good handyman who is conscientious and slightly talented in plumbing he might be able to do it as well, at probably about 1/2-1/3 the cost per hour of a plumber doing it - though obviously the plumber would be more likely to be able to guess at the source or identify the issue than the average handyman. Steps I would take, more or less in sequence:

1) you said you do not have a water filter - but if you have a water SOFTENER, then it would usually have a salt ion exchange tank (the "softener" part), sometimes a preceding sand filtration tank to remove sediment or iron, sometimes a finishing resin exchange system (commonly in place of the salt in a saltless system, sometimes has both in really bad water), and sometimes a final step carbon filter tank or unit (the carbon is black charcoal, so not what you are seeing). So if you have a water softener that is quite possibly the source.

2) figure out what the material is - sand, salt, plastic, glass, water treatment system resin.

- Sand will not dissolve in hot water or vinegar (or anything else you could likely come up with for that matter), will crush only under heavy pressure or under hard impact to form smaller jagged fractured particles, will scratch glass and metal readily. May be slightly reflective. Little or no noticeable taste, will not be affected by flame (though the black dots in it, which are presumably iron, might change color or disintegrate in a hot flame).

- Salt would dissolve in hot water or CLR or vinegar fairly readily (10-15 minutes for a small quantity) and the granules would round off quickly in any of those, would crush pretty easily under pressure to fragments that generlaly do not look sharp edged, be translucent or opaque (whitish to greenish) rather than truly clear, would not significantly scratch metal or glass though will polish it. Will also melt in a moderate flame - propane torch blue or green flame. Moderately dense - drops somewhat fast in water.

- Glass would be pretty much clear and reflective when moved about (possibly with an adhesive bonding agent on some pieces) when viewed through a magnifying glass, and would not cut or scratch glass significantly but will to some extent, not melt in a normal flame unless exposed to blue flame for a significant number of seconds. Will not dissolve except in absolutely strongest acids. Dense - drop fast in water.

- Plastic would cut with a knife and mush out when gripped tight with pliers or diagonal cutters or hammered on, melts readily or chards to black ash in a low flame (like cigarette lighter or match) and will likely burn or smoke heavily also, would not scratch glass or metal at all. Would normally be dentable with dull knife or fingernail. Also would feel "light", and settle slowly when dropped in water or even float in some cases. Would be expected to dissolve readily in acetone or laquer thinner (most types of fingernail polish remover except "green" ones).

- Resin chemistry depends on type - most would dissolve readily in boiling water, soem in tap hot water, might dissolve in vinegar but maybe not, would crush quite readily to smaller granules, usually tanish or brownish or off-white - not clear looking. Likely to have a chemically or oganic smell at least when wet. Might or might not burn but likely to have stinky smoke when heated, might direct combust or just turn to gases or might ignite but likely not much. (Do not stick nose in the fumes). Moderately to quite light, should drop slower than sand in water and some actually floats or nearly floats. Normally (not all types) dissolve in vinegar and most also in alcohol, and I think most or all would dissolve rapidly in acetone.

If not up to determining the material type yourself, assuming you do not find a water softener in the house that you can compare the softener/filter materials with, you could find an engineering/hazardous materials test lab in your area and explain your issue, and have them test it to determine the general composition type of the material - which should get you quite a way towards solving the mystery. Though likely to be about $200-400 for the testing, so that would be a last resort. You could also try taking it to a couple of distributors or wholesalers (not a box store) of water softening/treatment equipment and see if they recognize what it is.

Once you have tied down the material - if sand pretty hard to conceive of it originating in the house EXCEPT from a filtration tank on a water softener which has a jammed backflush valve, or has corroded out so is letting the material into the outgoing treated water. Plastic pretty much would have to be coming from plastic piping, and usually flakey when that happens, whereas yours is granular - though I guess it could come from plastic innards of a tankless type water heater if you have that. Glass would have to be from water tank lining (inside of tank is glass lined to protect the steel from corrosion). Resin would be only from water softener system.

One other thing that really bothers me - if this were sand or glass, I would not expect even a swirl tube tank to distribute much of it high enough in the tank to make it out the hot water discharge pipe - I would expect it to settle back out in the tank pretty quickly, so I really expect your materials test to show it to be plastic or resin unless there was a LOT of it in the tank initially.

3) plastic pipe - unless you have REALLY dangerously and readily tasteable and smellable strong chlorination (like swimming pool water smell and taste), PVC/CPVC water pipe (white or off-white or sometimes blue or green hard plastic, but bendable - comes in up to 20' lengths and has glued-on couplings and curve fittings) would not deteriorate, and I can't see it looking like what you have. PEX - expanded cross-linked polyethylene "pipe" is highly flexible tubing wihtout jintermediate fittings other for any junctions (is curved to make changes of direction), in clear, white, red, blue, green, orange, yellow, etc on the outside but the inside of it is I think always clear or translucent plastic, which looks like and feels like drink bottle plastic - softish, and quite flexible with brass or stainless connectors connecting it together. Look in basement (other than right where piping comes into house, which is likely steel or copper or black plastic) and under sinks to see what you have coming in - rigid plastic, copper, steel, or flexible plastic tubing - the latter would be PEX almost certainly. The water lines to your sinks from the shutoff valves might be PEX (or copperor flex stainless) - ditto to the water line to the dishwasher, which is commonly transparent PEX and you can actually see the reinforcing in the tubing. If entire house is PEX piped, remotely possible the material (if your test shows it to be plastic) could be deteriorating PEX - there have been many brands over the last couple of decades since it was introduced that have been susceptible to premature failure, and while most failures are connection faillures or splitting, a couple of them have failed from deterioration. Definitely lighter than sand - just weighing the clump in your hand should rule plastic in or out.

4) one other real remote possibility - though I have not heard of total plastic tubing breakdown like this - there are problems on record with water heater cold water inlet tubing breaking into shards that block the water heater outlet or faucets - is deterioration of the inlet tubing that circulates the incoming cold water in the bottom of the water heater to mix the incoming cold with the in-tank heated water. But it would have to be total plastic deterioration in your case, into uniform looking fragments - something I have never heard of and find hard to visualize happening.

5) Next important thing to do is figure out if limited to hot water or cold and hot water piping, and if source is internal to house or coming from outside. You know it is in the hot piping - what came out of water heater shows that. Find a place you can run cold water in high volume - maybe tub or hose faucet - and run 5 gallons of water or more to check for the granules. I would run into a bucket or put through a kitchen strainer or through a permeable but strongly woven cloth that can handle high flow - maybe a white dishrag or bath towel or fine cheesecloth to act as a strainer. Or fill large clean container with water, then gently decant the water, leaving the residue, if any. Obviously, the more water you run through it, the more definitive the test is as to whether you have the sediment at that point - and the lower the elevation in the house probably the more there is in the pipes. You said something in your response about running water through a filter after the water company guy came - so you may have already done that and eliminated the incoming water as the source of the problem, which would make the water heater the likely culprit but ONLY if the sediment is only in the hot water system - not if in hot and cold both.

You do not have to do this testing at an internal house location on hot water lines - you already know it clogged your dishwasher (which normally draws only from hot water line) and water heater. But if you have not confirmed it in the in-house cold water, like on the cold line to the washing machine, check a place or two in the house to be sure.

If there is a chance this is coming from outside, I would definitely take a bit of the stuff around to a few more neighbors - and I would start off by asking the water utility who is one the same distribution branch line as you, and ask each of them about having seen this or blockages in their faucet strainers or buildups in water heater or boiler.

Then (or actually, I guess BEFORE doing an in-house check, because if coming from outside it obviously will be in the in-house cold lines too), do same thing on a cold faucet as close to where the water comes into the hosue as possible. This might be a drain valve right after the main water shutoff valve, or might be an outdoor hose bib (be sure to rewinterize it if needed if you use an outside faucet). If you have the granules there, then pretty sure it is coming in from outside line. Obviously, if you can reasonably (considering depth of connection and weather) test as close as possibleto the utility termination point (shutoff valve or meter) you would be in a better position to claim it is coming from their system, if that is the case.

6) Hopefully, by this time you would have it tied to a system and general source location, so you could then tie down the exact source. As I said, if resin and neighbor is not seeing it, has to be coming from a water softening system in your house. Ditto if salt - which would be unlikely to accumulate in a hot water tank unless a LOT of it is coming in, because of its solubility. Glass sources only from water heater that I can think of. Sand remotely possibly from public water supply, though real unlikely. In your system - since you say it started a year ago with no piping changes of note, could not really be sand that was lying in your buried incoming pipes unless you have significantly increased the amount of water being used in the house at any one time - added people simultaneously running shower/bath water, new baby so washing machine is running most of the time so doubling up with other water uses when it did not use to do so, etc. For that to be the case would have to be a situation where a lot more water is being used at any one time than before, resulting in higher flow velocity in the pipe so it is picking up sand left in there from construction which is now being mobilized into your system.

About only other possibility I can see would be some kids playing dumped sand into the water heater when it was in storage or sitting out waiting to be installed - in which case it should only be in the hot water lines, and should have been started clogging off pretty quickly after installation. And pretty clean looking sand for most areas.

7) You did not say whether the problem started immediately after installing the new water heater or not - if so, then it had to be sand or whatever inside the water heater when it was installed. One possibility - since it looks a lot like St Peters sandstone sandblasting sand from the midwest - would be to ask the manufacturer if during manufacture the tanks are sandblasted before glass-lining them - maybe yours stopped at the sandblasting point and never got cleaned out and glass-lined. Since the person (GE rep ?) offered to replace the water heater, IF the sediment is only in the hot water lines (and faucets and appliances that pass both hot and cold water) but is NOT in straight cold water like at hose bibs, then it could be they know about some tanks making it out unfinished with sandblasting sand in them and no glass liner - or deteriorating glass or porcelain liners. In that case, IF only on hot water system, then replacement of the tank sound like a good idea, including reflushing all the hot lines and faucets/valves before replacing the shower faucet. And I would push for them to pay for the plumber costs too due to a blatantly defective tank and failed inspection system because they are supposed to use a fiber optic camera to inspect the lining job after it is done - a subtle hint that they could not afford ill press over this sort of faillure might get amazing results.

About the onlyway to tell if that was the case would be to run a fiber optic camera in a top pipe connection to look and see if it has a clean glass liner (or porcelain depending on brand, or stainless steel in stainless tanks) or has bare or rusty or galvanized metal showing.

It would be extremely unusual for an outdoor water pipe leak to let sand in - both because usually it would just plug the pipe up fairly quickly (household lines do not flow fast enough in most cases to transport pipe bedding sand in bulk), and also the water pressure would usually jet out of the pipe and keep the sand out and erode the sand away around the pipe as long as it was under pressure, not let it into the pipe in any quantity like it does with sewer pipes.

BTW - depending on how much this entire exercise cost you and on your homeowner's policy deductibles, if you can demonstrate it is not due to gradual deterioration of something but is due to foreign material coming into the pipes or in the water heater initially, your insurance (minus deductible) might cover this as a casualty loss (any costs to replace the neww heater, flush the piping, replace or rebuild damaged valves or faucets (which would probably be just about all of them), repair/replace damaged appliances, etc) - though probably going to come in under a normal deductible of a thousand or two $.


One last thought - and I hope this is not the case - you said guy came to work on your furnace and notifed the original water heater leak - I hope you mean forced air furnace, not a steam or hot water boiler - because if a boiler, then the sediment (if in cold water system) could have gotten in there too with makeup water, depending on how fast it flows in your unit. An accumulation of sediment in the bottom of the boiler could cause overheating of the boiler unit, as well as blockage of zone valves, buildup in piping, and erosion of the circulating pump. A significant damage risk if the sediment made it that far, which should definitely be checked out if it is in the cold water lines.

One later last thought - in flushing out the lines in the house, normal household pressure is probably not going to cut it unless that is up about 60-80 psi - if normal 30-45 psi range and your water pressure regulator (if you have one) can't be cranked up higher, the flushing should probably be done with an air/water mixture at say about 60-70 psi, or closing the incoming main shutoff valve and using a pump temporarily put in the system to give a higher flow velocity - otherwise I would not count on getting essentially all the sediment out. Obviously, if the stuff is plastic or soft resin, while it could still block sieves in the line, it will not take out valves and faucet controls as readily as sand or glass.

Again - please let us know the source if you find out where it came from, just for future info in case this sort of issue pops up again in my lifetime.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD


WOW Thank you again for such a thorough reply. My biggest concern of now is how to finalize what is going on. My only fear is getting something fixed/installed and not fixing it. I have replied to your answers as best as I could. Let me know if it helps identify anything.

1)I have checked and I have no water softener either.

2) I have asked around and still noone knows what it is. I placed a chunk of it in vinegar and nothing happened. It sank pretty quickly to the bottom and that was it. I let it dry, and it has become a lot more white and now disintergrates with relative ease. I placed some pressure on it with the tip of a flathead screw driver and it crumbled.

As far as the quality of the water, I have not noticed any issues as far as taste, smell, etc.

Regarding sending it to a lab, I have no idea where to start with that. Is there one you know of?

3) Nothing tasteable or smellable. Also I do not know if it could be deteriorating since this problem has been going on for so long. I would assume something would hold up that long, no?

4) No uniform fragments that I have seen.

5) I ran this test off a hose bib and did not see anything. Stayed there for a few minutes. I will try it again inside the house.

7) I am not sure if it started immediately after the water heater. I only noticed the sediment issue months after the water heater was installed. But I do not know if it was just filling up with sediment up to that point.

8) I know I am having an issue with the water pressure in the house. The plumber said my pressure regulater is damaged and the current pressure is about 100PSI, so that is something I am gonna fix when we fix all these issues with the sediment.

Answered 3 years ago by ali123



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Answered 3 years ago by Member Services


I sympathize with you - and your answer on how the stuff behaves (crushes, dries whiter, does not dissolve in vinegar) took away the easiest answers like residual blasting silica sand (which would not turn whiter or crush easily) from water tank construction or pipe bedding material in the outdoor pipes being mobilized just now for some reason (maybe the higher water pressure causing higher flow, for instance).

You did not say if it burns or melts into a gooey (when hot) blob like melted nylon rope - if so, deteriorated plastic piping or possibly a plastic shotblasting or roll polishing media from manufacture of the tank would be about only source I can think of - did you ask the manufacturer (engineering technical group, not just customer service) if they use any sort of blasting or rolling media to clean/polish the inside of the tanks during manufacture ?

You said you took it around - if that includes to several plumbing shops (not box stores, but plumbing or HVAC companies and/or to plumbing distributor/wholesalers) and no joy there in finding someone who recognizes it, then that would lead me to think it came in with the water heater due to some missed manufacturing step(s) - like cleaning out and glass lining after the inside of the tank was shotblasted or roll-polished. Personally, though probably easier for me than you, I would drain it out and remove a top pipe connection and run a fiber optic scope/camera down in there and look to see if the inside of the tank is glass lined (or maybe ceramic lined) like the rep said it is supposed to be - or maybe just bare metal (which by this time would probably be starting to rust, especially near the top).

After the inside faucet test for the sediment - at lowest elevation possible, from hose bib or wash tub faucet or such (including washing machine faucet with hose removed, or using washing machine hose but with screen insert removed) or other high flow outlet much preferred - that should tell you if the sediment is in the cold water pipes or not, and if you test point is real close to where the water pipe enters the house, couldsay it is coming from outside. If so, I am getting pretty stumped - I would try to (if comes out of pipes pretty near to where water enters the house, preferably right after the main stutoff valve), to document that and see if water company will do a high-volume flow test on their line and see if the material is in their lines. Water company might demand a plumber's statement that it appears to be coming in with the incoming water before they will take any action - which would probably be to disconnect the incoming line at the meter or their termination point and do a full-flow test into a bucket or through a large piece of filter fabric or a strainer for say 50 gallons or more. If their test came up blank but is coming into your house from outside, then would have to pretty much be either a pretty big pipe hole letting backfill sand in, or some such material in the original piping and just now starting to move through the line - neither of which sound real likely to me.

If not in the cold water system coming into house, but is in cold water piping inside the house, then having the plumber check for ANYTHING in the house that could be producing this - including checking a couple of places along the line (by cutting into it) for odd corrosion product or deteriorating plastic piping. (I don't think you said yet if you checked what type of piping you have - metal, white or blue or green rigid PVC, or flexible reinforced polyethylene (like PEX or equal) - I just can't imagine metal pipes turning out a corrosion product that looks like that, deteriorating plastic pipe remotely so, but would be REAL rare and from the amount you have coming in I would have expected some significant leaks by now if that was the source.

If only found in hot water piping, I would take the manufacturer up on the water heater replacement, trying to get them to pay entire labor and pipe flushing cost too and maybe even faucet rebuilds - because your lines with that stuff on them will have to be well flushed, including at a minimum removing and cleaning all fauceet and hose/appliance strainers as well as flushing the lines at high flow.

I understand your reluctance to spend more money on something that might not solve the problem - but if you are able to tie it down to hot lines only then water heater warranty replacement and hot line flushing should hopefully stop it. If in cold lines, then a canister filter near the entry point to the house would work to stop material coming in from outside, but if generated in inside lines (and I would not expect this to go from nothing to a lot of sediment in just some months) then short of putting a filter on each usage point in the house, the solution is to replace what is generating the material - presumably plastic piping, if the stuff burns or melts into a gooey blob.

BTW - on the pressure - 100 psi is dangerously high for your house piping and appliances - you risk a leak or blowout especially if older pipes because that is getting up to design working pressure. I would recommend getting that fixed ASAP although it might mean the pressure regulator will have to be cleaned out again after the sediment source is cut off if the sediment is coming from outside - and assuming the pressure regulator is close to the entry point to your house, plumber could do a cold water test for the sediment there at that time while it is apart and, if sediment is found (or if pressure regulator is close to entry point and all clogged up with the sediment), could document that on the invoice, giving you ammo to talk to the water company about it coming in with the water and being their problem to solve.

On a lab to identify the material - though as I said a couple to few hundred $ probably for that - google for water quality testing labs in your area (not mail-in test places, but a local place) - might be an independent test lab, might be a national chain lab like Columbia or Pace or National Testing Labs, or locally might be affiliated with a civil engineering/soils firm or a hazardous waste/environmental engineering or remediation firm. Your local water utility engineering division should also be able to give you a couple of local lab names. You would have to take in and talk with the lab supervisor about limits on the testing - because turning them loose to positively identify it, if it is something really odd, could get unreasonably pricey, so you will have to draw a limit. Key things to look for is whether it is a common granular water treatment chemical or salt, chemical precipitate from water, or a plastic or sand (though with the color change to white and readily crushable would have to be a feldspar sand if it is). Of course, if coming in with the incoming water, then it would be the responsibility of the water utility to test it. Might be they will have their lab test it for you anyway if you talk to the water quality supervisor.

It is also possible (maybe) if you took it to local environmental agency (Health and Human Services or State EPA or such) or to local univeristy environmental or civil engineering department, they might recognize it or do some tests for free.

Oh - since you said it crushes and turns whitish, this would not be pure silica sand or normal backfill sand (for most areas) - which might mean it is a chemical or degraded plastic which might not be too smart to drink orhavein your drinking water - so you might consider bottled water for drinking and cooking until you get it solved.


One other thought - I might have mentioned this - you said this is public water supply, but if your house previously had a well and the public water was put in later, and routed through that wellhouse/pumphouse piping, there was possibly a sediment filtration tank there which, after years of corrosion, has its outlet screen open up and let the filter medium (sand, feldspar, other chemicals are possible) flow out of the filter tank (usually looks like an upright galvanized steel water heater tank, commonly bout 40-200 gallons capacity) and into your house lines.

Thinking of all possibilities here - if you have a swimming pool, some older systems used two water feed lines through the pool filter system - normal flow direction and reverse for backflushing. Potentially, if the backflush system is malfunctioning and not shutting of the inflow line and opening the backflush drain propearly, it could be backflushing the filter media into the main water line feeding it - potentially feeding water (and filter media) back into the house - compare your sediment with the pool filter media to see if that is possible, if you have a pool.

Sorry I can't be more definitive - but till you either identify exactly WHAT type of material it is, and/or identify for certain that it is coming in from outside or not, and if not then what part of the system is generating it, you are sort of stuck in limbo. If unable to do this sort of tracking down yourself,, maybe getting a new plumber in (second point of view, you know) to do some high-flow testing through a large sieve or filter fabric might be your next step - to pin down what parts of the system have it in it (hot, cold, both) and where coming from and if any possible source (if plastic) inside the house.


BTW - here is a previous question with several answer links regarding typical cost to replace a water pressure regulator.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD


I have the EXACT same stuff coming out of my tank. Really. It looks exactly the same. Hot water source only. Doesn't happen with cold water. I drained tanks, came back again. Have two tanks. Had plumber re-route so we could get down to one...thinking we weren't using the tanks enough to keep them flushed. That didn't work either. I used a TDS meter (one that adjusts for temp) and only got readings of 200-220 on TDS. That is supposed to be an acceptable level. But I don't know what it is. My theory is that the heater is making the solids coagulate. But that is counter to what usually happens when water is heated. I am at a loss. It shows up in my shower heads, bottom of the tub after a bath. Crazy. I have never seen anything this bad before. What did you eventually do?

Answered 3 years ago by Hassleback


There is a very simple solution to this problem. The plumber that hooked up your new tank did it backwards. Water heaters are designed to make the sediment falls to the bottom and sides of the tank. The only way for that sediment to get in to your tap heads and dishwasher but NOT show up in a cold water test is that the lines are backwards to your tank. Hot comes out the top. The simple laws of physics would dictate that no sediment would float to the top and out the hot water pipe. It's called sediment because it "settles" not floats. Therefore, no sediment should make it in your hot water. The only way it can get there is if the hot is flowing out the bottom and stirring up the sediment. It happens more than you know. We had the *exact* same problem. Spent tons on plumbers and contemplated numerous options like softeners, inline filters, etc. I even ordered a fancy meter and baseline solution to test for solids in my water. Finally, one plumber finally figured it out. The lines in both of our tanks were installed backwards. Sediment disappeared completely. And btw, your water is also probably getting lukewarm too. Once you fix the intakes the hot water will last longer too. Easy fix my friend.

Answered 2 years ago by Hassleback67

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