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Plumbing in the Home/Water heater crud in shower head

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Question
Hi Jay-

My house was built a little over 5 years ago. A few months after we moved in the shower heads (actually the little screen that is located where the threads are) would plug with with this paste like crud. Our plumber who did the plumbing for the whole house said it was crud in the pipes from construction. 6 months later the screens where plugged up again. He said it was crud in the city water supply and I pointed out we have whole house filter. He then said it was the annonizing (sp?) rod in the water heater disintegrating and he would remove it. I thought this was strange. 5 months ago our water heater started leaking and was replaced under warranty, labor not covered. Now the screens are plugged again with this paste. Before I call the plumber again is removing this rod the right thing to do? Did removing this rod cause the water heater to leak? If it did then I don't want the new water heater to fail in 5 years because by then it will be out of warranty as it goes back to the install date of the original water heater. If my plumber full of it what do I need to do to keep my screens from clogging up?

I do not have a water softener as when my water was tested they said it was slightly hard and it was up to me if I thought it needed to be softened.

Sorry about the long question.
Jim

Answer
Jim,
It is very common for the screens to plug up when the plumbing is new. There are several reasons. The most common is soldering paste used to sweat the copper fitting. Some put it on too heavy and the residual lays in the pipes. Hot water dissolves it and then it solidifies when cooled. Much like grease. That is, of course, if you have copper waterlines. If you have a public water supply and you are in a new development, you could get crud in the line but it is usually flushed out prior to entering your house and it would effect the meter if that were the case. Besides you stated you have a whole house filter so that would negate that problem. All water heaters have an anode rod in them. It's purpose is to keep micro-fine particulates suspended in the water and more importantly, it protects the tank from rusting. Through the process of electrolysis, the rod ever so slowly disintegrates and prevents dissimilar metals from reacting and forming rust. (a simple explanation, yes, but no need to go into the chemical property exchange process) Do not remove this rod. It's there for a reason..in fact, replacements can be purchased when the originals are gone but usually the tank has reach the end of it's life before that is necessary. If you have really bad water, they wear faster. Public water is treated so chances are that not the case either. Anode rod residue will look like a white powdery deposit. If you have soldering paste or pipe joint compound caught in the screen, it will be greasy and have a green tint.The only thing you can do is remove the screen, raise the water heater temp to the max wait a few hours then flush the lines at each faucet using hot only. Be sure to lower the temp afterwards. Time will eventually solve the issue. Do not leave the screens out, they are necessary for the faucet to work properly

Plumbing in the Home

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Jay Nicholas

Expertise

Plumbing & Heating (warm air, hot water & steam heat)

Experience

40 years in the business, 35 years as a lic. master plumber in NY State. Retired

Education/Credentials
Graduated Magna cum laude at the School of Hard Knocks

Past/Present Clients
Commercial, residential and light industrial. You name it ...I have probably worked on it

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