Water Deposits

Dear NH,
I am getting a white deposit from my gas hot water heater, which is stopping up the aerators on my faucets. What is it and how do I stop it?
ZC from Fairfax, VA.

If the "deposit" is crusty and is literally fused to the aerator screen rather than just loose bits and pieces, it sounds suspiciously like a mineral deposit. These are not caused by the hot water heater but rather by minerals in the water itself. Water carries minerals that can accumulate over time as crusty sediment on faucet aerators, showerheads and other plumbing fixtures. The pipes in a home can become blocked solid under the right (or wrong) conditions! The solution to the problem varies from house to house, depending on the nature of the minerals. Professional water treatment, as opposed to simple filtering, is about the only way I know to solve this problem. Normal filters you would purchase in a hardware store do not effectively remove minerals "in solution".

If the material in your aerators are instead loose pieces of varying sizes, there are two possibilities. First, you might just have sucked "normal" sediment into the aerators. Such sediment can be stirred up during the flushing of water mains in city water systems. Installing a whole house particulate filter just inside of the main water shutoff to your home can solve this problem. These are available at hardware stores and can be user-installed if you have basic plumbing skills such as cutting pipe and soldering.

Then again, you may have an accumulation of sediment within the hot water heater tank. If this gets stirred up, it is possible the sediment could travel from the tank to your aerators where it would become trapped in the screens. In that case, drain down the water filter to clean out the sediment followed by flushing out your hot water pipes through a spigot that does not have an aerator, such as in your tub.

copyright 2001 G.G. Alonzy

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