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Old 03-31-2016, 05:20 PM   #1
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Default Dark flakes in water - tankless water heater

Hi all,

First post, I'm on a mission to find out what is up with the water in the house I'm renting.

Background: I'm getting stuff out of my faucets when running the hot water. They are flakes, usually dark, brittle. Sometimes they have a brown color around the edges, sometimes blue/green. They will break apart into finer sand like pieces. The flakes can be up to 2mm in size. They can also be already broken into the finer sand like particles coming out of the faucet.

They can be seen really easily from our bathtubs when you run the hot water. We never get them in other faucets when the aerators are on. If you take the aerators off, you'll get them there, too.

The house has a Noritz N-0751M tankless heater.

The first plumber inspection recommended that we put a whole-house filter on the water main coming in, his guess was that they are just sediments. The filter was installed, but it didn't help. Flakes are still appearing.

After some calls to Noritz, they said that these flakes/particles can be created due to the way this model "super heats" the water. The minerals in the water coalesce at the high temps and turn into these flakes. They recommended that we either get a water softener, or put a filter on the output side of the heater to catch these things. However, they said that nobody else in my region (northeast) has reported this, it was known in other parts of the country.

I don't think the house owner ever did a flush of the unit (9 years?), so we got someone to come by and do that. Nothing much to report, the flush water turned a dark blue color. The inlet filter on the unit was also removed and cleaned during the flush, but it was clear of any debris. Which makes me think again that the heater is indeed causing this.

Another piece of info - the house is relatively new (9 years), and the piping (as far as I can tell) is all copper.

Last piece of info is that we had the city test the water, everything came back normal in their report. Here are some numbers if it helps:

pH: 7.5 (reference => 6.4-10 mg/L)
Hardness: 68 (reference => 30 - 100 mg/L)
Iron: < .01 (reference => 0.30 mg/L)
Manganese: < .01 (reference => 0.05 mg/L)
Alkalinity: 40 (reference => 15 - 100 mg/L)
Chloride: 65 (reference => 250 mg/L)
Chlorine: 0.64 (reference => 0.05 - 2.0 mg/L)
Turbidity: 0.14 (reference => 5.0 NTU)

They didn't test lead or copper yet, but we did a home test kit and looked fine, so not expecting either of those.

I want to know if these flakes are the same thing Noritz is talking about, or if I have some catastrophic contamination going on somewhere else in the house. Has anyone ever heard of this? I'd like to recommend getting a new water heater, but not sure if this is typical with tankless heaters, or it's just Noritz / this model. I can also try to keep flushing the tank with vinegar etc, but not sure if these flakes can really be generated so quickly that it will always happen, and isn't a build-up type of situation.

Thanks for your help
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Old 03-31-2016, 05:28 PM   #2
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You need a whole house repipe. Contact a licensed plumbing company to do so and they will help you to solve this issue
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Old 03-31-2016, 05:35 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moonapprentice View Post
You need a whole house repipe. Contact a licensed plumbing company to do so and they will help you to solve this issue
Hi sorry I forgot to mention that they house is about 9 years old, and has all copper piping (as far as I can tell) - what do you think those flakes could be that a re-pipe would fix?

Thanks
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Old 03-31-2016, 05:44 PM   #4
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Move
Put your rent in escrow
Ask the land lord to fix the problem or let you break the lease
last resort call the city and complain, most cities have rental licenses
and inspections

It's not your house to worry about
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Old 03-31-2016, 06:08 PM   #5
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Smoke dope and it will go away. If you drink, it'll get worse.
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Old 03-31-2016, 06:14 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moonapprentice View Post
You need a whole house repipe. Contact a licensed plumbing company to do so and they will help you to solve this issue
This. I had the same exact issue of flakes getting into my water and all it was is that I needed new pipes.
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Old 03-31-2016, 06:44 PM   #7
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Quote:
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This. I had the same exact issue of flakes getting into my water and all it was is that I needed new pipes.
Did you find out what exactly was happening? Were the copper pipes disintegrating or something?
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Old 03-31-2016, 07:21 PM   #8
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Run a 50/50 mix of warm water and head&shoulders shampoo through the tankless,should take care of the " flakes" problem.
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Old 03-31-2016, 07:30 PM   #9
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Not good with car crashes, I can't look anymore.
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Old 03-31-2016, 09:34 PM   #10
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I hope your not drinking or bathing with those toxic radon flakes in the water...contact the epa at once...
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