Vexing plumbing problem

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My kitchen faucet does the drip, drip drip thing.
I shut off the water at the cold water shutoff, remove the stem from the hot water valve at the kitchen sink and see one, two or three tiny grains of sand, flaked iron, who knows what it is, but it's very tiny. The stem is part of a new faucet I bought for the kitchen sink, around a year ago, and it's the old fashioned rubber washer kind, not ceramic. I brush off the "grains" with an old tooth brush and put the stem back together, open the water and no more drip, drip drip. I never get this with the cold water stem.
Problem is, I have to do this again every few days, maybe not for 10 days if I'm lucky. Unless I want to live with the drip, drip drip (and I don't).
I had my water service replaced around a year ago, being the line that transmits cold water from the meter at the curb to where it attaches to the house service, a stretch of maybe 60 feet. This was necessitated because the plumbers who did a trenchless sewer line replacement found the water service in bad shape, bad enough where it sprung a pretty bad leak. They may have caused that leak but they wouldn't fix it for free or even a reduced rate, claiming that it was so old and in such bad condition (galvanized pipe), that it simply needed replacement. So, I paid them to do it because their bid was actually pretty good ($2200, IIRC).
My tank water heater (40 gallon) was replaced by an on demand Noritz system (free, because I qualified for a city program, and this was their first foray into tankless, and I was a willing participant). I don't really care for the tankless, but that's off topic.
They put in some copper pipe from the tankless heater, but the line that goes from there to my kitchen sink is around 30-40 feet of no-doubt old galvanized pipe, and giving off sediment, presumably the rusting innards of the pipe. I reasoned that this is what's causing the tiny particles on the rubber stem washer problem and thought I'd measure, buy the 30-40 feet of galvanized pipe that would be needed to replace what's there now and do it myself, now that the weather has warmed up.
But I got to thinking... what if this is caused by something else? All that work and the expense of the new pipe would have been for nothing. So I decided to post here first. Can I "safely" assume that replacing that pipe would fix this problem? I have pipe wrenches, a hack saw, even a jigsaw with metal blades. I have a propane (and Mapp Gas) torch, too, but I have never sweated copper pipe, but figure if I just replace the old galvanized with galvanized, I won't need to do that. I don't intend to live here indefinitely. I'll be looking to sell the house and find one that suits me better. Thanks for your input/ideas, etc.
Dan
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Dan Musicant wrote:

I'll be surprised if it's flakes of rust from the galv pipe.
It might be solidified calcium deposits from the heater.
See if you can collect some particles and then pour a few drops of muriatic acid over them. If there is frothing and the particles pretty much disappear after a while, that would indicate calcium/other minerals.
Jim
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Speedy Jim wrote:

Not really pertinent to the drip, but there isn't a cutoff valve at the sink for the hot and cold? Should be... ...

...
...
Vinegar will do the same test and more likely to have it around.
A filter would probably solve the problem -- it's pretty clear it has to be in the hot line. I'd not rule out the recently completed work has disturbed old piping and still getting some particulate from that.
It would, imo, be highly likely that removing the galvanized would probably solve the problem although w/ time it'll either go away as finish flushing out the system completely or it'll get worse if you actually have a portion of that line that is actively deteriorating and is the source.
--
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:Speedy Jim wrote: :> Dan Musicant wrote: :> :>> My kitchen faucet does the drip, drip drip thing. :>> :>> I shut off the water at the cold water shutoff, remove the stem from the :>> hot water valve at the kitchen sink and see one, two or three tiny : :Not really pertinent to the drip, but there isn't a cutoff valve at the :sink for the hot and cold? Should be...
Actually, now that you mention it, there is a cutoff but not at the kitchen sink. It's at the heater, which is located on an outside wall. I could as easily use it, I just forgot about it. I guess it's force of habit, because the first time I didn't know if it was the hot or cold stem that was letting in the water. It's a slow drip, around every 2-3 second, usually. :... :>> brush off the "grains" with an old tooth brush and put the stem back :>> together, open the water and no more drip, drip drip. I never get this :>> with the cold water stem. :... :>> They put in some copper pipe from the tankless heater, but the line that :>> goes from there to my kitchen sink is around 30-40 feet of no-doubt old :>> galvanized pipe, and giving off sediment, presumably the rusting innards :>> of the pipe. I reasoned that this is what's causing the tiny particles :... : :> I'll be surprised if it's flakes of rust from the galv pipe. :> :> It might be solidified calcium deposits from the heater. :> :> See if you can collect some particles and then pour a few :> drops of muriatic acid over them. If there is frothing :> and the particles pretty much disappear after a while, that :> would indicate calcium/other minerals. : :Vinegar will do the same test and more likely to have it around.
Yeah, I sure do have vinegar, no muriatic acid. I'll try that. I cleared the stem this morning, so it will have to wait a few days until it starts dripping again. : :A filter would probably solve the problem -- it's pretty clear it has to :be in the hot line. I'd not rule out the recently completed work has :disturbed old piping and still getting some particulate from that. : :It would, imo, be highly likely that removing the galvanized would :probably solve the problem although w/ time it'll either go away as :finish flushing out the system completely or it'll get worse if you :actually have a portion of that line that is actively deteriorating and :is the source.
One thing I didn't think of is opening up the kitchen hot stem and letting it flow full on for a minute or two. I usually have a pretty restricted flow.
Thanks.
Dan
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: :A filter would probably solve the problem -- it's pretty clear it has to :be in the hot line. I'd not rule out the recently completed work has :disturbed old piping and still getting some particulate from that. : :It would, imo, be highly likely that removing the galvanized would :probably solve the problem although w/ time it'll either go away as :finish flushing out the system completely or it'll get worse if you :actually have a portion of that line that is actively deteriorating and :is the source.
"A filter would probably solve the problem..."
There IS a filter at the about-one-year-old Noritz Model N-069M-OD tankless gas-powered externally installed water heater. They said to clean it out occasionally, maybe every 6 months. I've cleaned it at least a couple of times. I'm going to go out there now and clean it again. Don't know that it will do any good. It's a fine metal screen.
I just cleaned it out. It's a very fine screen, but it's installed just before the water enters the heater. It had a fair amount of particles in it of varying sizes, from very tiny to relatively large. Nowhere near enough to slow down the flow, though. I'd have to think that what's causing the drip didn't come through that filter, though. Well, I'd be surprised if it did.
Dan
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snipped-for-privacy@privacy.net wrote:

If it isn't a 10-20 micron cartridge or wound filter, I'd suspect it likely what you've described would make it through in no more quantities than you're apparently getting...
--
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replace the galvanized with PEX quick easy permanent solution, add valves to isolate each fixture in case of future troubles.........
galvanized is like culprit since you say you generally have a restricted flow
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

I think the intent was the faucet isn't normally opened full blast after I reread the posting -- I thought otherwise initially, too, but decided on further parsing that wasn't intended meaning.
--


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: snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote: :> replace the galvanized with PEX quick easy permanent solution, add :> valves to isolate each fixture in case of future troubles......... :> :> galvanized is like culprit since you say you generally have a :> restricted flow : :I think the intent was the faucet isn't normally opened full blast after :I reread the posting -- I thought otherwise initially, too, but decided :on further parsing that wasn't intended meaning.
Right, good read. Thanks!
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PEX is not approved in the OP's location. Wayne
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wrote:

How do you know that? I didn't see him give a location.
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Edwin-
Wayne live is a community known to outsiders as "The People's Republic of Berkeley" as does Dan, if my memory of previous posts is correct.
This being true, though the "Save the Bay" folks recommend the use of PEX over copper (new or re-piping) to reduce copper loading (due to erosion & oxidation) to SF bay.........
PEX appears not to be approved by California statewide but is still ok'd on a city by city or project by project basis. And Berkeley is a holdout.
cheers Bob
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Your memory is correct. But hey, it's not that bad here, although the prohibition on PEX for potable water and on AAVs (air admittance valves) is rather vexing.
Cheers, Wayne
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I might be overstating it a little but my structural engineering friends cringe when they find out that a retrofit project is in the city of Berkeley. I quote them........ "that place is nearly impossible to get anything done, those people are unbelievable ".
Although in their defense, Berkeley is not responsible for lack of statewide PEX approval.
cheers Bob
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wrote:
:
: wrote: :> :>> replace the galvanized with PEX quick easy permanent solution, add :>> valves to isolate each fixture in case of future troubles......... :> :> PEX is not approved in the OP's location. Wayne :> : :How do you know that? I didn't see him give a location.
Wayne lives across town from me, around 2 miles (Berkeley, CA).
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On Sat, 19 Apr 2008 01:53:18 GMT, Wayne Whitney
: :> replace the galvanized with PEX quick easy permanent solution, add :> valves to isolate each fixture in case of future troubles......... : :PEX is not approved in the OP's location. Wayne
Thanks, Wayne, you'd know! Good luck on your kitchen, BTW!
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On Fri, 18 Apr 2008 17:09:35 -0700 (PDT), " snipped-for-privacy@aol.com"
:replace the galvanized with PEX quick easy permanent solution, add :valves to isolate each fixture in case of future troubles......... : :galvanized is like culprit since you say you generally have a :restricted flow
I'm sorry, when I said restricted flow I meant that I don't ever open the stem up to anything like full flow, I only open it to around 2-3 quarts/minute for sustained flow. I never just open it up full blast. I don't know that the flow through the pipe is particularly restricted by virtue of the pipe having deteriorated. Still, your idea of a PEX replacement may be a great idea. Thanks.
Dan
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There's a screen on the water inlet on your tankless hot water heater. You may wish to shut off the water supply to your tankless, remove the screen and check it. If you see the same particles there, you know they are not from your water heater but probably from your old water piping. Obviously the particles at the sink would be from piping after the water heater, since the particles can't make it past the screen.
Another thing you may try is to flush the hot water line, although you may have done this after installing the new water heater and/or faucet. You remove the aerator from the kitchen faucet, turn the faucet to full on, and let it turn for a couple minutes. Without the aerator the flow is a bit chaotic, so expect water to splash around a bit. After flushing you could clean the valve seat as you have been doing, and then see if the problem still recurs.
Good luck.
Cheers, Wayne
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On Fri, 18 Apr 2008 22:58:52 GMT, Wayne Whitney
: :> I shut off the water at the cold water shutoff, remove the stem from :> the hot water valve at the kitchen sink and see one, two or three :> tiny grains of sand, flaked iron, who knows what it is, but it's :> very tiny. : :There's a screen on the water inlet on your tankless hot water heater. :You may wish to shut off the water supply to your tankless, remove the :screen and check it. If you see the same particles there, you know :they are not from your water heater but probably from your old water :piping. Obviously the particles at the sink would be from piping :after the water heater, since the particles can't make it past the :screen. : :Another thing you may try is to flush the hot water line, although you :may have done this after installing the new water heater and/or :faucet. You remove the aerator from the kitchen faucet, turn the :faucet to full on, and let it turn for a couple minutes. Without the :aerator the flow is a bit chaotic, so expect water to splash around a :bit. After flushing you could clean the valve seat as you have been :doing, and then see if the problem still recurs. : :Good luck. : :Cheers, Wayne
I've never flushed the pipes, IIRC. Noone suggested it to me, and it never occurred to me until a few days ago when I started this thread. Still haven't done it but I definitely will try that and see how it goes. I don't think I even keep the aerator on there. Is there a good reason to do so? I thought it was more or less a flow restriction device (which I don't need since I self-regulate that!), or a means of filtering (post stem!), and since I don't cook with or drink hot water I figure why bother?
Thanks for the info on PEX. Actually, I hadn't thought about the codes. So, if I do decide to replace the old galvanized I'm restricted to more galvanized or copper?
Dan
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On 2008-04-21, Dan Musicant ( snipped-for-privacy@privacy.net) <Dan> wrote:

Without an aerator, the flow will be very chaotic if you ever open it up all the way. An aerator can and will limit flow, but that shouldn't be a problem for you.

Any water supply pipes you replace should be copper--it doesn't make sense to install galvanized given its performance, and PEX is not approved here, as previously mentioned. To connect the new copper to your existing galvanized, the best solution is to use a 6" brass nipple (or stainless steel? not sure if stainless is OK) with a female threaded galvanized fitting on one side, and a copper sweat to female threaded adapter on the other end. A "nipple" is just a short section of (threaded) pipe.
Cheers, Wayne
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