Black Powder In Tap Water.

 
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Old 12-20-2011, 06:48 PM   #1
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Black Powder In Tap Water.


Gentlemen,

Been a while since visiting. I manage a number of units on the side, and in one of them, a single family house, they're getting occasional black powder or fine sand in the tap/bath water. It's on a drilled well; entire house was re-plumbed from the pump onward about 9 years ago, all copper pipe and a new pressure tank; foot valve was replaced about 7 years ago when it failed.

Once in a while - especially whenever the system has had any kind of pressure change or shock, like turning off the pump when they're away for the weekend - the water will come out with a heavy dose of fine black powder in it. It's heavy enough that it settles on the bottom of the tub or sink. It tends ot be just a single "puff" of it - stops inside of a minute - then the water runs clear again. Does not reoccur just runing th ewater off and on. It reoccurs only once in a while - like veery few weeks, or even months - and mostly when, as I said, there's been something changed.

Copper oxide? Seems a bit much for that.

Any ideas will be appreciated.

Thanks.
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Old 12-20-2011, 08:05 PM   #2
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Re: Black Powder In Tap Water.


softener?

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Old 12-20-2011, 09:48 PM   #3
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Re: Black Powder In Tap Water.


could it be charcoal from a filter
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Old 12-20-2011, 09:51 PM   #4
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Re: Black Powder In Tap Water.


Rust

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_oxide
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Old 12-20-2011, 10:09 PM   #5
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Re: Black Powder In Tap Water.


manganese/iron
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Old 12-20-2011, 10:35 PM   #6
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Re: Black Powder In Tap Water.


Ever have the water tested when the black stuff is there?
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Old 12-21-2011, 06:04 AM   #7
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Re: Black Powder In Tap Water.


I doubt if this is what is happening in your case but it did remind me of another time.
I had a plumber tell me one time that he knew of a city crew that tapped a pressureized sewer line, mistaking it for the water supply. He was called out by the homeowner to check on the smell of the water coming from all the fixtures, even after running them for a while.
He said the water had an oily residue to it and a fibreous material like toilet paper. Only later did he find out it really was toilet paper. Yuck.


( He discovered this only because the city crew was back working on the line, while he was there, so he went out to talk to them.
He told them about the problem they were having inside and it was then that they all realized what actually had happened.)

True story.
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Old 12-21-2011, 06:47 AM   #8
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Re: Black Powder In Tap Water.


Quote:
Originally Posted by rex View Post
softener?
Quote:
Originally Posted by FramingPro View Post
could it be charcoal from a filter
Would love it to be that simple. There is no water softener or any other treatment device in the system. Just foot valve, pump, ballast, electric heater, and copper pipe.
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Old 12-21-2011, 06:48 AM   #9
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Re: Black Powder In Tap Water.


rjconstructs - neat story, but they're on a well & septic.
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Old 12-21-2011, 10:28 AM   #10
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Re: Black Powder In Tap Water.


I would imagine its just sediment in the lines being disturbed from the pressure changes.
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Old 12-21-2011, 11:06 AM   #11
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Re: Black Powder In Tap Water.


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I would imagine its just sediment in the lines being disturbed from the pressure changes.
Agreed. But sediment of what? Basically I'm trying to figure out if it's something coming in from the well, or is it the copper line, or something else in the system, being eaten away by the well water.

I thought maybe some voice of experience would say "Ya, seen that a hundred times. It's "x"." But apprently it's not something real common.
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Old 12-21-2011, 02:40 PM   #12
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Re: Black Powder In Tap Water.


Iím wondering if maybe it might be something like sediment from the water heater after a period of non-use.
Possibly from anode or tank deterioration?
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Old 12-21-2011, 02:43 PM   #13
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Re: Black Powder In Tap Water.


Quote:
Originally Posted by bob_cntrctr View Post
Agreed. But sediment of what? Basically I'm trying to figure out if it's something coming in from the well, or is it the copper line, or something else in the system, being eaten away by the well water.

I thought maybe some voice of experience would say "Ya, seen that a hundred times. It's "x"." But apprently it's not something real common.

get a sample of water straight from the well and one from the tap and see where the particles come into play
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Old 12-21-2011, 04:52 PM   #14
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Re: Black Powder In Tap Water.


Manganese will typically show up as black. We typically find that home owners complain of colored water, silts, etc. right after a power outage. The pressure change in the system tends to let the manganese/iron/etc that is coating the pipes or that has setup in the pressure tank to surge into the plumbing and discolor the water. Once the water is run for awhile, there isn't a problem until the next power outage.

Based on the above - if there's no objectionable taste/odor or other changes, this has been consistent from day one, and the water was tested for potability at a prior date, I wouldn't worry too much about this. It's highly recommended that you do do a bacteria test once per year, and test for arsenic or nitrates if either is a problem in your area - check with your local health district. If you don't have prior water test data to refer to, then it may be a good idea to do an EPA drinking water test - check with the local health district for drinking water labs in your area.
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Old 12-21-2011, 06:28 PM   #15
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Re: Black Powder In Tap Water.


Quote:
Originally Posted by DuMass View Post
Iím wondering if maybe it might be something like sediment from the water heater ...
That reminds me - it's present in both hot and coldwater, but much much more in the hot than the cold. The cold will have a trace of it. When iti happens, the hot pours out dark and fills the sink bottom with silt for 10 seconds, then clears.
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Old 12-21-2011, 06:36 PM   #16
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Re: Black Powder In Tap Water.


Quote:
Originally Posted by piercekiltoff View Post
Manganese will typically show up as black. We typically find that home owners complain of colored water, silts, etc. right after a power outage. The pressure change in the system tends to let the manganese/iron/etc that is coating the pipes or that has setup in the pressure tank to surge into the plumbing and discolor the water. Once the water is run for awhile, there isn't a problem until the next power outage.

Based on the above - if there's no objectionable taste/odor or other changes, this has been consistent from day one, and the water was tested for potability at a prior date, I wouldn't worry too much about this. It's highly recommended that you do do a bacteria test once per year, and test for arsenic or nitrates if either is a problem in your area - check with your local health district. If you don't have prior water test data to refer to, then it may be a good idea to do an EPA drinking water test - check with the local health district for drinking water labs in your area.
Yes - that's exactly the kind of behaviour we're seeing.

Water runs clear for weeks, maybe months. Then, one day - usually after something's been done involving the plumbing - pipes were hit by an errant hammer or saw, system lost pressure when the pump was turned off for the weekend then pressured back up, a section was drained when an appliance like a clothes washer was disconnected....then, woosh! This big flourish of black when a tap is turned on. Smells metallic. And, as I said above, it's much much more present in the hot water than the cold.

Today I cut open a supply line to have a look. In effect, the interior wall of the copper pipe is coated in a fine black powder that comes off at the touch.

And, yes, this has been going on for years - just got interested in really tracking it down recently.

So - OK - manganese, iron - but - I see you're a well driller. Do you mean that this is something to do with well water? This is perhaps a sign of a high mineral content, and could be fixed with a water treatment system?

On that theory, I checked the pump. There's a 6 inch section of clear plastic hose connecting the pump to the copper line. It was intended as a vibration damper - but it may serve another purpose in this case. The hose is black on the inside. Aha!
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Old 12-21-2011, 07:49 PM   #17
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Re: Black Powder In Tap Water.


you must have been seeing it in the faucet aerators no?
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Old 12-21-2011, 09:55 PM   #18
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Re: Black Powder In Tap Water.


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you must have been seeing it in the faucet aerators no?
Oh yeah - had to clean it out of the inlet strainer of the dishwasher this afternoon - was completely blocked, wouldn't fill.
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Old 12-22-2011, 02:55 AM   #19
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Re: Black Powder In Tap Water.


Drilled well or sand point?
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Old 12-22-2011, 07:24 AM   #20
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Re: Black Powder In Tap Water.


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Drilled well or sand point?
Decades old drilled well in a sandy area with high water table.

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