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Manganese/Iron Sulphide Sludge Purging

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  • Manganese/Iron Sulphide Sludge Purging

    We are treating our water now with a water softener which handles the iron portion of our hydrogen sulphide/iron household water.

    The previous owner had no such treatment system, so our copper pipes have an accumulation of black sludge. Every once in a while the hot water system will cough up the manganese sludge and it will stain our clothing in a wash, or our guests get a nasty surprise in a shower. The cold water doesn't seem to be affected. Since I rent the hot water tank from hydro, I don't know the type of anode in it, if that's pertinent to the problem. There is much information about how to avoid these problems, ie: through a filtration system, but little info about how to solve the effects, AFTER, the installation.

    My options are:

    1/ to change the copper hot water line which is almost a forty foot run of 1/2in copper, and use the newer plastic heat/pressure resistant stuff on the market. I don't think the sludge settles in the vertical lines. I can then reuse the copper pipes by stuffing a wad into them to clean out the sludge, and if not too thin from corrosion use them again.

    2/Purge the line. I would install a shutoff valve just after the the hot water tank then right beside it and downstream I'd put in an outside valve the type with the hose screw on. At the other end of the line I can install another valve of the same type for a drain. Luckily here the hot water lines drops a foot at the lowest point making it ideal for a drain valve.

    I would then put hot water into a 40 gal drum, and in another drum about 5 gallons of hot water/muriatic acid mix of say 50/50 (maybe 10/90), along with some food coloring. Then I would with a bronze pump and hose force the acid in the hot water lines after first closing the valve to the hot water tank, and then opening all the downstream taps, then closing them as I see the color come out. I would let it sit for 2 hours. Then I would connect the pump to my clear water barrel and force a high pressure purge through the lines once again until I get no color from the water. Then I would open the low end valve just installed to further clean out the low horizontal run, and I would then open the hot water valve and let it flow as usual for a few minutes.

    Issues are: A/ Muriatic acid still in the system.(Low risk.)

    B/ Acid eating lead joint material precipitating in the water in higher concentrations. (Not a problem if not ingested. Since it's hot water not a problem. After a time concentrations return to normal.)

    C/ Acid removing manganese as intended, but leaving a thin wall of copper ready to break.

    D/ Calcium deposits served to block some small leaks and now open to leaking again.

    I've just about had it with this water problem, and I would prefer to tackle the purge method as this is a huge plumbing repair involving feeding tubing in dead space and breaking drywall, not to mention all the disimilar joint connectors ie: copper/pvc.

    Thanks for the help.