Greasy feeling black specks in water supply in apartment. ?


seeking your advise. Have read many threads on here about black smeary specks in the water supply. In my case they buildup in toilet, aerators, around sink drains so not just isolated to hot water. Given what I am seeing and the smearing nature of the specs the most prevalent answer all over the internet is some piece of rubber gasket or rubber washer that is disintegrating based on reaction to regular chloramine treatment of water supply. These threads have been useful in narrowing the potential cause and have done many of the suggested fixes. so far I’ve done the following. First I checked with all neighbors who had same plumber and same timing of install of new water lines to our building about two years ago. we all have copper inside the building and the neighbors are not having the problem. Based on this the city water supply most likely isn’t the problem nor plumbers work since we all used the same guy same time etc To this I changed the hot water tank last august. We have crimped copper and not flexible lines on hot water tank, based on threads we have changed out all the supply lines to faucets and toilet , and changed kitchen faucet. Also Changed the diverter cartridge in shower. And flushed and drained the hot water heater twice. We have also determined the anode rod in our new hot water tank is aluminum. Also looked at exterior garden hoses to see if they have black rubber inside. after all that checked 4 weeks later and buildup is happening again. Shows whoever water touches including water pic :(. The only “hose” I haven’t changed that has rubber washers is the washing machine. Researching that now. any other ideas are appreciated. thx

  14 answers
  • Beverly McEuen Beverly McEuen on May 25, 2021

    Contact City Water Department. Explain what is happening. They will come and blow out their sewer line and take pictures of your line. This should be at no cost to you. The picture will show what is happening with your line. Take the picture to your landlord and ask him to have it cleaned (roto-rooted!). This happened to me. I had a large amount of grease buildup in the line which was coming from the garbage disposal. After cleaned, the problem was solved.

    • Bob Bob on May 25, 2021

      Thx! I’m sorry it’s not clear in my post. It’s my apartment :) I am the owner trying to solve it. The problem is in the incoming water. Sewer lines are fine no problem there.

  • Maura White Maura White on May 25, 2021

    Well sounds like you have done a whole lot of investigating for being in an apartment. I say its time to contact the landlord and maintenance staff to help you with this one.

  • William William on May 25, 2021

    Seems like you covered everything possible on the inside. The problem may be with the water main going into the home. I would call the water department and explain what is happening and what you have done. They should be able to isolate what is causing it.

    • Bob Bob on May 25, 2021

      Thx William. I checked with the three neighbors that are right next to me and they aren’t having the problem at all. Same plumber replaced all of our water lines at the same time a couple of years ago. I did dg up the connection to the building this am and it was properly done to connect to the copper. It’s a puzzle for sure hence reaching out...

  • Janice Janice on May 25, 2021

    Depending on where you live, there may be a way to get a sample of the water from your faucet test at a university lbaboratory. As a former landlord, if I were contacted regarding this, I would have been very concerned and taken on the responsibility for insuring the water provided to my renters was pure. We had well water tested and then installed a reverse osmosis unit for the entire property to insure there were no health concerns for which we could become liable.

  • Bob Bob on May 25, 2021

    Thx Janice good advice. I’m in process of doing exactly that. Actually a sample of the black stuff itself. Since the back unit is not experiencing any of these issues and its the same main water line supplying both the front and back want to really find out and fix the issue in the front unit before applying a filtration system. If it’s truly bad pipes in that unit , then it may be replacing them. But for the last eight years never an issue. Puzzling and isolating a piece at a time. Tenant is using a Brita type system since he encountered it.

  • Cheryl A Cheryl A on May 25, 2021

    I would talk to the water dept that supplies your water and also the landlord they should be the ones fixing these issues if you are a renter

  • Annie Annie on May 25, 2021

    Sounds like you have covered almost everything. How about the presure regulator. Should be on the main line coming into your place....

  • Betsy Betsy on May 26, 2021

    Hi Bob: Sounds like there is something in the water lines themselves. There’s a problem called galvanic corrosion in copper. This happens when a copper line is connected to a steel or aluminum pipe—something that might occur because of sloppy repair or installation job. The two metals in connection creates a galvanic reaction that will lead to the copper corroding. Also, the gunk can be in both the hot and cold pipes at the heater. You might want to think about a water filter.

    Check this site for some information:

    This site is sort of a conversational site. The language and innuendoes are a bit questionable at times, but maybe there is something in there that you can use:

    Good luck

  • If it's only happening in your unit then it stands to reason that something is happening once the water enters your pipes. I think after everything you've done, having the ick tested is a good idea so you can determine if it is indeed a rubber breakdown or something else. However it sounds like some rubber is breaking down somewhere on a main supply line if it you're finding them everywhere. Good luck and if you find the answer please post!!

  • Bob Bob on May 27, 2021

    Hi Thx. All good ideas. Have located a lab and waiting for a “new” sample of the ick to build up and send it over. And you are right, since it’s in both cold and hot lines I am trying to gets plumber friend over that has a small snake camera to peek inside the wall where it enters the apartment to see if we see something going onthere before it splits to its cold and hot water directions. Others are saying it could be bacteria from iron pipes which I shouldn’t have. But who knows what’s happened over time with a repair , the lab test will solve that.

    Once it’s solved I will definitely post outcome.

  • Simple Nature Decor Simple Nature Decor on May 27, 2021

    Sounds like you have done a ton of research, having it tested is a good idea.

  • Mogie Mogie on Jun 01, 2021

    All pipes deteriorate over time. As this occurs, they may begin to corrode, leading to the introduction of rust, tiny pieces of the pipe, or other unwanted materials into the home’s water supply. For those living in the city, the plumbing problem could be occurring in one of two places.

    The aging pipes could be part of the municipal system or from the home’s plumbing system. Unless they have just changed out their entire plumbing systems, the best thing homeowners case is to ask the plumber to check for other signs of pipe damage or other issues that contribute to specks in the water. If the plumber doesn’t find anything, call the municipal supply company and file a complaint.

  • Either have your water tested or have one or more professionals/water department inspectors come through to take a look. Sounds like you've hit the limit of what you can do yourself.

  • Simple Nature Decor Simple Nature Decor on Aug 16, 2021

    Contact your water department in your town.