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Tanklets > Black Particles

Q: We've had a Norwitz tankless waterheater for a year or so and since it's installation, we noticed a marked reduction in water pressure inside the home. The wife has laid down the law and insisted it be replaced with a regular water heater, which is being installed today. The Norwitz also produced a black sediment that appeared in our tub and other outlets.

No one at Norwitz or the installer could explain it, nor did they have suggestions as to how to correct the problem. The units filter, which is between the water source and the unit is clear. I could only assume that the instantaneous heating of the water produced the sediment, but this is only a guess. Anyway, master control won and the new water heater is on it's way as I type. Anyone else have a problem with the Norwitz?

Also, a second shower running depleted the hot water to the shower furthest removed from the unit and resulted in a colder shower. The Bradford White, model U4-5036FRN, a 50 gallon natural gas "Eco Defender" is being installed for $1250, parts and labor. Unknown how much to remove the Norwitz. I know requesting info at this point is after the horse is out of the barn, but I was looking for possible reassurance that I didn't totally screw up!

A: Black sediment: Once upon a time I owned a turkey farm (and lived unhappily ever after until I sold it). We added bleach (sodium hyperchlorate) to the well water to minimize bacteria in the drinking bells. If a flock became sick, antibiotics were given via drinking water (without bleach). Following antibiotic treatments we administered copper sulfate through the drinking water to try to avoid aspergilliosis (a fungus infection of the lungs).

I found you could not run bleach and copper sulfate together. You created a black insoluble grit. A doctor I knew had a new copper heat exchanger installed in his swimming pool heater. When the heater was fired and valved in the swimming pool went black. It sounds like some free copper in the Norwitz is reacting with chlorine in the water. -- EnergyExpert (12/21/10)

Q: Need help desperately. For the last few years, we are getting black floaties in our hot water only. When we try to wipe it, it smears, it tends to show up mainly in our tub, but it has gotten to the point where it has come out of the other faucets. A plumber suggested to clean or change the anode and let the water heater set with Clorox in it. We changed the anode and let it set with Clorox for two hours. We then drained it of several gallons of water.

The water smelled of Clorox for two days and there was no sign of the black floaties. One week to the day it came back. It doesn't seem to smear, but it is the same stuff, I believe. Even the manufacturer of the water heater told us to change the anode. We were having this problem prior to geting this new water heater and thought a new one would solve the problem.

That was two years ago and for the first year we did OK, then it came back with a vegence. The black floaties are definitely not hard water deposits. We have city water and the replacement anode is aluminum. No one in our neighborhood is complaining of this problem says the water company. Any ideas?

A: If you have those nice flexible braided stainless steel connectors on top of your heater, try removing them and replacing with copper connectors. The rubber lining on some of those stainless connectors disintigrates causing just the problem you've described. It reacts with the water treatment. Please let us know how you fare. -- Larry (12/13/04)

Q: We have a new house approx two years old. The house has two 50 gallon gas hot water heaters. There is a recirc pump on the system that runs continuously. After about six months in the house my wife noticed black particles coming out of the jetted tub facet (no strainer). These particles would smear like grease when touched and were very difficult to clean. Normal house hold cleaner would not touch them.

Eventually the particles were coming out of every hot water facet. The water also had a light blue color. City checked the water coming into the house. Checked OK. Analysis by the city stated chemical content OK. Builder replaced both expansion tanks, No joy. There was heavy white jelly like deposits on the anodes. Builder replaced the water heaters (State) with the same type. Problem was deminished but still there.

After another three months both heaters were replaced again with the same type. When drained at the curb outside a heavy jelly substance (approximately one gallon) came out of each heater. When it dryed it turned into a greenish white power. The piping was flushed (water) and the heaters were replaced again, this time with Rheem units. The Problem seems to be resolved. Strange thing is my neighbors have the same heaters ( State), same water, same builder and have not had any problems. We have speculated that electical system in house may not be properly grounded, builder checked OK, or that the copper piping might be reacting with the chemicals in the water. Do you folks have any ideas?

A: Do you remember if you had the braided stainless steel supply lines on top of the heaters? The black rubber in them can fall apart when the water is treater with chloramine. The jelly-like stuff on the anodes tells me that the anodes were aluminum. -- Randy (3/06/05)