White or tan/sand-like particles that settle in the water usually come from internal plumbing. This material is pipe scale and is a combination of calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate. Calcium and magnesium carbonates are naturally occurring minerals and are not a health hazard. Over time, these minerals can deposit on the inside of your pipes and then begin to flake off.
There are three common conditions that can cause scale to flake off pipes more rapidly:
Pipe scale can clog washing machine screens, shower heads, and faucet aerators. There is no practical way to remove pipe scale from the inside of your pipes. If the problem is severe, you may want to consider replumbing.
White or tan/sand-like particles in hot water. The water heater is another source for white or tan particles. As the water is heated, calcium and magnesium carbonates precipitate out of the water, forming white or tan sand-like deposits. As you use the hot water, these minerals can be carried along clogging washing machine screens, shower heads, and faucet aerators. To keep mineral deposits from accumulating in the water heater, flush your water heater at least once a year. Flushing regularly also extends the life of the heater and makes it operate more fuel efficiently.White particles in hot water that float. Floating white particles can be caused by the disintegration of the dip tube in your water heater. The plastic dip tube, directs the cold incoming water to the bottom of the tank. As the tube gets old, it can disintegrate, sending white particles into the hot water. These particles can be found in faucet screens and sinks or basins where screens are not installed. These particles are brittle and vary in size from small irregular pebbles to longer shards. Contact the manufacturer or vendor for advice on how best to repair the water heater.White or tan small round beads/resin. Defective screens in ion exchange water softeners can release resin beads that look like small balls in the water. The beads will be uniform in size and are the size of fish eggs. The resin can be brown, orange, or translucent and can sometimes be mistaken for sand. Call your service agent for repairs.
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Black particles can come from three common sources: a broken water filter, a degrading faucet washer or gasket, or a disintegrating black rubber flexible supply line hose (for a water heater, washing machine, or kitchen faucet, etc.).
Brown or orange particles are typically rust particles that have broken off the inside of your water pipes or District water mains. These particles are very hard, irregular in size and shape, and can be several different colors (including black). They consist of mostly iron and are not a health hazard but they are a nuisance if they clog washing machine screens, shower heads, or faucet aerators. If the water with particles in it is clear, the problem is most likely from your piping. If the water is discolored for a few hours it is more likely from our water main.
Amber or translucent small round beads/resin. Defective screens in ion exchange water softeners can release resin beads that look like small balls in the water. The beads will be uniform in size and are the size of fish eggs. The resin can be brown, orange, or translucent and can sometimes be mistaken for sand. Call your service agent for repairs.
Crystals or residue left behind on fixtures, white surfaces, and pots after water evaporates are calcium and magnesium carbonates. These are naturally occurring minerals and do not pose a health hazard. These deposits may appear green, blue, or brown, having been colored by tiny amounts of the metals found in your water pipes. Carbonate deposits can be dissolved with white vinegar. Dishwasher deposits can be minimized by using a commercial conditioner, by using liquid detergents and by using the air-dry instead of the power-dry setting on your dishwasher, which bakes the carbonates onto glassware.