Asked on Mar 02, 2012

Black specks in my water?

Holly R
by Holly R
More recently, we often have little black specks in our water, especially hot water. I only notice it in the bathtubs, as they stick to the sides and smear when you try to wipe them away, but then looked closely and got really grossed out when I found some stuck inside my bathroom drinking cup! The other day I think one also came out of our kitchen sink faucet which REALLY bothered me!
We had this problem years ago and I can't remember what we did to correct it. Is this related to a bad/disintegrating part of my hot water heater, or do I just need to flush out my hot water heater? The house is about 9 years old but we were the first owners and have lived here for 8. Or is this something else? I'm hoping it won't require a plumber's help. Thanks!!
  24 answers
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Mar 03, 2012
    The "smear" thing has me wondering a bit on it oily or more like small chunks of rust that crumble under your fingers? I have installed a number of "whole house" filtration systems for clients that are on well service. Are you on a well or city service? 8-9 years old water heater may be starting to show some rust or sediment issues. Have you been a good home owner an "flushed" your water heater every year?
    • Roxana Roxana on Feb 21, 2021

      This same issue is happening in the house I rent but it’s only in the bathtub. The water heater is about 2 yrs old they thought one element had burned out and they replaced it and drained the water heater but the problem still there. They recently changed a part that goes behind the wall where the valve to turn the shower on goes I don’t recall the name of it but still nothing changed. It’s kind of a aluminum color and a little oily it’s gross

  • Sounds as though your hot water heater is on the way out. If you use a tankless unit attached to a boiler if that is the type of heater you have, this can mean that the domestic water supply is being contaminated by the heating side water. Do not use your drinking water cold or hot, until you have water checked for pollutants and get it fixed.
    • See 1 previous
    • Chloe Chloe on Nov 16, 2020

      Same..I noticed on my baby bottles. Driving me crazy tying to figure out what the hell it is. We live in a large apartment complex.

  • Holly R Holly R on Mar 05, 2012
    Honestly we haven't flushed our tank every year because we didn't know we were supposed to (although a plumber MAY have done that for us a few years ago). I am hoping that doing that will clear this up?! Regarding the "smear" thing -- I was wondering if it was chipped off pieces of rubber or something? It's almost like disintegrated rubber bits perhaps? We do not have a tankless water heater, but I have heeded your caution about not drinking it straight from the tap -- we've been just drinking what comes out of the PUR filter on our fridge until we get this figured out. Thanks for all of your help on here!
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Mar 05, 2012
    The rubber could be bits from a gasket or valve seal in one of the faucets...are any of your faucets leaking or dripping?
  • Holly R Holly R on Mar 05, 2012
    Not that I'm aware of, but we do have a separate issue with a leak elsewhere in the house that I need to get taken care of. Would this affect more the water supply in more than one area of the house? The black specks come from both bathtubs upstairs and possible the kitchen sink downstairs.
  • Ana M Ana M on Mar 05, 2012
    I had the same happen, and it was the particular faucets, I took apart the piece where the water comes out of, cleaned it and put it back together. Have to do it every so often.
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Mar 06, 2012
    Holly...getting leaks fixed in a timely manner is a must...over time wood rot and mold can be much worse to deal with. One way to narrow it down is to follow the flow paths of your plumbing system and try to isolate "zone" working backward from the point of use and replacing components as you you until the problem is fixed.
  • Holly R Holly R on Mar 16, 2012
    So according to an official from the gas company who was out to do something else, he said it's our expansion tank that has gone bad. That rings a bell for what the problem was a few years ago! I guess the black specks are actually rubber that has broken down...
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Mar 17, 2012
    sounds logical...expansion tanks have a "bladder" in them much like an inner tube in old time car tires...swapping one out is not too tough. Good luck
  • Grant Terry Grant Terry on Sep 06, 2013
    Here at the City of Kerrville Water Production Division we have found that the stainless steel braided hoses that have the black rubber lining tend to break down when exposed to chlorinated water over a period of time, and this is especially evident when connected to the hot water side of the homeowners system.
    • Joe Longest Joe Longest on Jan 16, 2016
      Thanks for the info Grant from Ingram. On your info I changed out the ss braided water heater hose and put in copper flex line today. Black flakes/particulates were coming out of all fixtures- hot side only. Problem solved.
  • BertBert BertBert on Mar 31, 2014
    Grant Terry from Ingram,TX...Thank you for your help, I think you nailed it. We noticed the black flakes only on the hot water side and I just partially flushed the tank, the water was very clean. The top of the tank is fitted with a SS braided hose, I will replace it, it's about 5 years old, all of our piping is copper. I tried using chlorine pucks in our toilet tanks to keep them fresh but the chlorine destroys the flapper over a short time which is also made of rubber, same black consistancy.
  • Rob Underhill Rob Underhill on Jul 18, 2014
    We have the "dark smeary particle" problem only in our kitchen faucet hot water. The plumber concluded it was a problem with the faucet (delta pull out single handle 16961 sssd-dst). We sent an email to delta and they immediately notified us they were sending a replacement quick connect hose without any other discussion. It seems to be a common problem.
    • Jennifer Jennifer on Feb 18, 2016
      Do you know what the part number is for the hose? We have the same faucet, but the manual doesn't say quick connect hose. They sent us a pull out hose. Is that the same thing?
  • Cate Hamilton Cate Hamilton on Aug 25, 2014
    I second what Rob Underhill said, exactly. Taking his lead, I called Delta with the hose number (ours was A112.18.1) and they explained that they were aware of the problem and would be happy to replace it. They even sent the new part with rush shipping. Apparently, it was just a flaw in manufacturing. All new Delta faucets will not have this problem and they're replacing all older faucet hoses as the requests come in.
    • Bill Briggeman Bill Briggeman on Oct 11, 2014
      @Cate Hamilton Hi, Cate! Hey, can you post the Delta number? Our kitchen Delta faucet is doing the exact same thing and it's the only one with a hose... Thnx!
  • Holly R Holly R on Aug 25, 2014
    An update on this - we did replace our hot water expansion tank and the problem completely went away for good. So I guess the answer is if you're having problems everywhere in the house, check the expansion tank. If it's only in your kitchen sink, check your faucet and contact the manufacturer for a potential replacement. Thanks for the help everyone! :)
  • Greg Theb Greg Theb on Sep 20, 2014
    Hi, I just saw this and I am having the same issue with the little black whatever that is coming sporadically out of my kitchen faucet. I happen to have 2 water heaters and the one for the kitchen is ~10 years old. It started about 2 months ago and is really annoying. So you think the hot water heater is the culprit? I have no clue as to how to flush one or should I just get a new one.
  • Mar2090022 Mar2090022 on Aug 15, 2015
    The answer is.....Black manganese naturally found in well water this is very comon however it can be alleviated by clearing and cleaning your water well and making sure your filtering system is working. number 3 making sure that the water system is flushed. Your Water pipes have a manganese build up on the ID or inside diameter of the water pipes it may take awhile for that too to be removed however it will take some time
  • Dwight Jarratt Dwight Jarratt on Sep 14, 2015
    After taking the faucet apart and cleaning all the parts I could, I put the faucet back together and flushed water through it without the aerator and had no black flakes. When I put the aerator back on, the flakes were back even worse. I replaced the aerator and that fixed the issue. Its $5 part and easy to replace if you don't want to wait for a new sprayer.
  • Cathy Schaffer Bramlett Cathy Schaffer Bramlett on Mar 19, 2019

    WHAT WAS THE SOLUTION? I have the same issue. Black stuff coming out of the faucet and it smears like graphite. Seems to be the hot water and most prevalent in one bathtub (or maybe just do not see it in other faucets as they are not tubs). The natural gas hot water tank is fairly new, installed less than 2 years ago. The black stuff is frustrating to clean up and it makes us not want to use the bath tub. Showers only.

    • See 2 previous
    • Jim Dillard Jim Dillard on Apr 13, 2020

      Did you get an answer? Jim

  • Jim Dillard Jim Dillard on Apr 13, 2020

    Holly, Did you find an answerthat solved the problem? Jim

  • 62320ca 62320ca on Jun 23, 2020

    When I was researching a similar problem, I found this site, and it really helped me. I joined just so that I could share my experience here now that my problem is solved.

    I had a Hansgrohe pull-down kitchen faucet, and I started noticing small black particles in the water about 5 years after installation. The particles would smear if I rubbed them between my fingers, and the most particles would appear when I ran the water stronger or at maximum flow. If I ran the water very weakly, there were very few, if any, particles. I found that the problem was caused by completely deteriorating water supply lines (for hot and cold water). In my case, the problem was mostly the cold water hose, but the hot water hose also had signs of deterioration. The internal surfaces of the black rubber hoses (inside the exterior metal braiding) were completely deteriorating. The problem I had was identical to the problem shown in this video:

    ...except in my case, the water supply lines were supplied by Hansgrohe and came attached to their faucet.

    I had called Hansgrohe, and they refused to even acknowledge that the problem could be caused by their water supply lines or any part of their faucet. They tried to tell me that the problem was my water shut-off valves (under the faucet), and I would have to replace them. However, after uninstalling my Hansgrohe faucet and examining the water supply lines, I found that it was indeed the water supply lines that were deteriorating (not the shut-off valves). To fix the problem, I ended up replacing my faucet with a Kohler one because I liked that their water supply lines were easier to obtain and easy-to-replace if the same issue happened in the future. Note that I did *not* replace my water shut-off valves.

    I feel that the external operation of the Hansgrohe was better in that the handle and high arch movement from side-to-side were very smooth. Also the Hansgrohe faucet body is brass, whereas the Kohler is an unknown metal coated with a stainless finish. But in terms of finding replacement Hansgrohe parts on common places such as Amazon or Home Depot/Lowes, they were hard to find and expensive because they were foreign-sourced. Also, the Hansgrohe water supply lines were integrated into the threaded shank of the faucet and much harder to replace. Whereas the Kohler supply line connections are completely visible (outside of the threaded shank) and easy-to-replace. I might have to replace a Kohler faucet valve or supply line in the future, but at least those parts are easy to find. The Hansgrohe supply line was 4 times the cost of the Kohler one, and there was no guarantee that a new supply line would fix the issue or prevent the problem from happening again in the future because Hansgrohe would *not* admit to the problem. Thus I had no idea if they had fixed the rubber formulation of their supply line hose in the past 5 years or not. Kohler's warranty customer service is much better than Hansgrohe's, and I felt I would much prefer contacting Kohler, if necessary, in the future.

    • Jamie j Jamie j on May 19, 2022

      Caused by degradation of expansion tank rubber or flexible hoses with rubber inside affected by over chlorinated water supply to your home. Check with your neighbours

  • Monique Schmucker Monique Schmucker on Nov 12, 2020

    it been a few years since your reply but I wanted to respond to let others know that we have the same problem and it’s not the water heater. We replaced ours several weeks ago and the black sediment is still coming out of the hot water faucets. We were told to remove a rod to see if that would help. It did for a few weeks but at the same time there was a horrific rotten egg gas odor. I could barely breathe! The black stuff came back so we put the rod back in. We’re on a well system too. I’m a city girl who just moved to the countryside and I’m totally freaking out! What gives?!!!

    • Deb Deb on Nov 01, 2021

      If anyone has a private well and has conditioning units activated carbon filter tank, usually about 4 foot to 5 foot tall, can become full of impurities and actually stop doing the job of absorbing the impurities into the charcoal media inside. When that happens the carbon filter tank can sit idle, can grow bacteria, and can break down and emit the charcoal into water lines. The charcoal bits smear just like the charcoal does for your outdoor grill. The charcoal media internal to the carbon tank is advised to be changed out every five years. Mine was not changed out and I was renting from a water conditioning company because my partner, whom dealt with the water, had passed away.

      Also a water softener must remain in working order. If the softener stops working or is shut down by the owner, sitting idle for even just a few months, the softener can also grow bacteria and if it is not disconnected from the house water lines, the bacteria will infect your entire system right down to the water well. Anyone with sensitivity to gastrointestinal issues will have the problem become perhaps explosive.

      Additionally, do not let any conditioning company tell you the answer to bacteria infested water is to rent a UV filter or drill a new well. Your private well and all lines and appliances such as the pressure tank and water heater, etc., can be sanitized by a chlorination, but make sure it is done with chlorine pellets. Liquid bleach will not kill the bacteria. I have been through all of this and spoke to many officials during the troubles I experienced, including the Water Council Director in Washington D.C. as I lacked knowledge about conditioning units when these problems happened.

      Don't let water conditioning companies tell you it is your private well at fault. Do your own water testing yearly so you know what is in your water and do test for bacteria yearly. Wells can change, say if a new quarry is dug, or some other change near your well and aquifer.

      Also, get a vermin proof well cap so those companies don't tell you it is your well at fault. You can test water through your local county health department and it shouldn't cost more that $40 depending, of course, in what part of the country you reside. A simple phone call to your health department will give you local prices.

      My house plumbing and appliances are a mess due to a softener unit being installed, which had no disclosure in my rental contract that the softener was used and previously leased, and it brought bacteria to my entire water system. I was unable to drink my water without boiling it first and did drink the bacteria water for over two years and nine months before the company tech finally admitted the unit was idle that entire time of almost three years. Bacteria can damage your kidneys. Do not drink bacteria filled water. As I said, I was ignorant about the units, and am paying the price, so I hope to prevent anyone else going through what I have experienced.

  • Jamie j Jamie j on May 19, 2022

    After 5 years of suffering the same problem it is the bladder in the expansion tank caused by chlorine disintegration of the rubber. It comes through the cold water supply and comes out confusingly in both taps (hot and cold).

    It has taken me 6 years to find this out myself after my National water suppliers in the Unitd Kingdom ( United Utilities) failed to address the issue.

    Tests were done and the chlorine in the water was found to be excessive. Long term use nearly had an exploding vessel on my hands. The findings once open if the expansion tank and the damage to the bladder was extensive.

    I hope this finally helps you. Failing that the chlorine has also degraded the flexible rubber pipes to your taps and the seating rubber in your toilets. This can be seen in the facet and it slowly shrinks the size of the seal by erosion.

    Check the flexible pipes or you will be looking at extensive flooding when they burst without warning.

    James jamieson. Carlisle.

    United Kingdom.

  • Puf69455145 Puf69455145 on Aug 24, 2022

    Had black specks in bath water from hot side only from a Grohe fixture. Solved this problem by replacing the internal valve for the hot water side handle.

    The old valve was 21 years old.