If there’s one thing no one wants in their water line, it’s sediment. Sediment can increase the risk of clogging, make your water taste funky, and make your boiler throw a temper tantrum. Fortunately, this isn’t one of those things you just need to grin and bear. Despite what some people think, it’s possible to flush sediment out of your water line and instantly improve the state of your plumbing. If the sediment build-up is particularly gruesome, you may need to resort to professional help. If it’s not, it’s easy enough to do it yourself. Here’s what you need to know about the best way to clean sediment from water lines.
What Is Sediment?
As naturalhandyman.com explains, sediment is any solid material that is not dissolved in the water. This could be sand or grit from a well, or anything else that’s managed to work its way into the municipal water mains. As most municipal water systems aren’t filtered, there’s always a small amount of sediment traveling through the pipes. Small accumulations of sediment are perfectly normal and nothing to be worried about. Excess sediment, on the other hand, most certainly is.
How To Tell If You Have Sediment in Your Water Line
Before we address the question of how to clean sediment from water lines, there’s another, equally crucial, question to answer first. How, exactly, do you tell if you have sediment build-up? Ultimately, some degree of sediment is to be expected. As Upgraded Home (upgradedhome.com/how-to-clean-sediment-out-of-a-water-line/) points out, most of the time, sediment won’t build-up to the point you need to bother cleaning it out. However, if you’ve started to notice any of the following, it’s time for action.
- Discolored Water – If your previously clear water has started to run yellow or brown, take it as a call to action. In some cases, the problem could be linked to a faulty boiler or a sewage leak. However, it’s always worth clearing your water lines first in case it’s simply a matter of excess sediment.
- Sluggish Plumbing – If your bathtub takes three times as long to drain as it does to fill, you could have a build-up of sediment on your hands. Before calling out a plumber to investigate your drains, try clearing your water lines – if sediment is to blame, you’ll have the problem fixed in no time.
- Funky Tasting Water – Take a sip of water. If it tastes ‘off’, excess sediment could be at the root of the problem. Some types of sediment can leave the water smelling as foul as it tastes. If your glass of water is giving off a rotten egg smell, it’s more than likely you have a build-up of sulfur sediment in your plumbing.
- Poor Water Pressure – If you’ve noticed your water pressure isn’t at its best, excess sediment might be to blame.
How to Clean Sediment From Water Lines
Providing the sediment hasn’t built up to astronomical levels, you shouldn’t have too many difficulties in cleaning your water lines. As dallasgaplumbers.com notes, the first step in the process is to clean out the aerator on your faucets. As the faucet attracts a large amount of sediment, there’s no point in cleaning out the water line without doing this first. To clean out a faucet’s aerator, you’ll need to:
- Lay a towel in the sink to cover the drain.
- Wrap a washcloth around the tip of the faucet then use a wrench to unscrew it.
- Remove all three parts of the aerator and place them in a bath of vinegar. To give some oomph to the cleaning process, sprinkle some baking soda on top. Scrub the parts to remove any last traces of buildup then rinse under fresh water.
- Replace the parts and screw the aerator back in place.
- Repeat the process with all faucets in the house.
- Once you’ve cleaned the sediment from the faucets, you can get to work cleaning it from your water line. To do this, you’ll need to work your way through the following steps.
- Open three or four faucets fully, using cold water only. Let them run for 20 minutes until the water runs clear.
- If the water doesn’t run clear after 20 minutes, wait for thirty minutes before repeating the process.
- If you have an outdoor hose, run it at full force for 20 minutes at the same time as you’re flushing the indoor pipes.
Flush the Water Heater
While you’re flushing out your water lines, it’s also worth flushing out the water heater to clean any sediment that’s gathered there. Water heaters tend to attract large sediment deposits, so it’s a good idea to get into the habit of cleaning them periodically. To clean the heater, you’ll need to empty the tank completely before using fresh water to clean it. If you have basic handyman skills, you should be able to manage the job yourself – if not, it’s wise to call in a plumber.
When to Call a Professional
Flushing out water lines isn’t a complicated process. In most cases, it can be easily managed without professional help. However, there are times when it’s worth biting the bullet and paying for a plumber. If the pipes are severely clogged with sediment or if there’s a possibility that sediment is the least of your plumbing issues, don’t risk making matters worse by attempting to fix the problem yourself. As rinsing out hot water can cause problems with the boiler if it’s not done incorrectly, you might also want to leave it to the experts if the sediment is primarily a hot water issue. Although costs vary, you can expect to pay around $50 – $200 for a professional to clean your water lines, and between $100 – $200 for a boiler flush.
How Often Should You Clean Sediment from Water Lines
If you live in a hard water area, cleaning sediment from your water lines is unlikely to be a once in a lifetime experience. Although there’s no set schedule for how often this kind of thing needs to be done (sediment will build up at different rates depending on a multitude of factors), it’s wise to schedule a cleanout once every 18 to 24 months. If you know that sediment build-up is a problem in your area, you might want to do it even more regularly.