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Silt And Sediment Can Cause Plumbing Problems

The Boston Water and Sewer Commission periodically does work on the water infrastructure. Local water main replacements and repairs can leave homeowners without water for a period of time, but they can also introduce silt and sediment into residential Boston plumbing once service is restored.

Larger silt and sediment particles can collect in hot water tanks and the faucet filters on most sink fixtures in a home. It can also collect in the valves on washing machines, dishwashers and other appliances. If you have a whole-house water filter, you may find that your filter becomes clogged more quickly than normal following water main repair or replacement. Other “events” like the opening of a fire hydrant, can also dislodge silt and sediment, sending it into fresh water supply pipes.

To ensure that your faucets are running free and clear, periodically remove the faucet filter and clear out any sediment, debris or mineralization that may have become trapped or built up in the filter. Doing this regularly will improve the flow of water through your faucet and will help prevent leaks and longer term damage to the fixture. Regular maintenance on your hot water tank should also help keep sediment build-up down.

If BWSC replaces or repairs a water main in your area, or if a nearby fire hydrant is opened, purge your pipes by opening an unfiltered cold water tap, such as a bathtub or wash tub. Let the water flow freely for several minutes to help flush out any sediment that might otherwise make its way to a filtered fixture. After you’ve purged your water line, check the filtered fixtures about once per week to remove any residual silt or sediment particles. Do this weekly until you no longer find sediment in your filters. Then check your filters monthly to remove any stray materials. Keep in mind that water main work or the use of a fire hydrant can increase sedimentation in the fresh water supply for weeks or months afterward.

If you notice a high degree of sedimentation in your fresh water supply even if no water main work has been done recently, you may have a problem with the deterioration of your supply pipes. Copper and PVC don’t deteriorate like other materials do, but galvanized and cast iron supply pipes can produce a lot of sediment when the pipe begins to fail.

Galvanized or iron pipe could be a dull silver, rust or black color. The sediment particles are most likely rust. While they’re not harmful, they’re not very appetizing, and they can also discolor the water, and stain sink fixtures, toilets and clothing in the washing machine.

If you have a problem with sedimentation build-up in your faucet fixtures, or rust staining in your sinks, toilets or laundry appliances, please call us at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911. We’ll evaluate the status of your galvanized plumbing and make a recommendation.