During many of the home inspections I notice a buildup of sediment in a homes water system. This is more prevalent in homes running off a private water well. The places I notice this are faucets, showers, clothes washing machines, and hot water heaters. Have you noticed the flow of water from your bathroom faucet has slowed over the years? If sediment is the culprit the fix is easy. This is also a good place to start if you suspect sediment in other places in your home. A faucet aerator is a simple fitting that screws into the end of most bathroom and kitchen faucets. The outside is a hollow metal cylinder with one threaded end that fits the threads on the faucet spout (they're usually inside the spout, so you don't see them). Inside the cylinder is a tiny screen, a rubber washer, a mixer disc and perhaps a few other parts, such as a flow restrictor or an inner plastic housing. The aerator's purpose is to add air to the water flow and create a consistent, straight stream. If you turn on your faucet with the aerator off, you'll see why it's needed. Many times you can simply unscrew this aerator and wash the sediment off of the screen. If you see a buildup of minerals you can soak this park in vinegar overnight and most of it will come off. Here are two important things to remember when doing this. 1) be careful not to damage the aerator when you're taking it off, and 2) make note (or take a photo) of the order of the pieces inside the aerator before you take it apart; they have to go back in exactly the same order. Replace the aerator and see how much your water flow has increased.
The next place you may be having water sediment issues in your house is your clothes washing machine. You might notice that your washing machine takes longer to fill up. You might also notice that when the valve is switching from cold to hot water the flow changes drastically. Faulty valves inside the washing machine can cause this but most often its just sediment in your inlet screen. This is another easy fix. First turn off the water supplies to the washing machine and unplug your machine from its power source. Then unscrew the fitting from the back of your washing machine. When you do this all the water remaining in your hose will drain out so have a towel ready. After you remove the supply lines take a close look at where they screw into the machine. Inside the fitting on the back of your machine you will see a sediment screen. Be careful when removing this so you don’t damage it. If its clogged simply wash it off or soak it in vinegar if you have mineral build up. Replace this screen, screw your supply lines back in, and you will see a considerable improvement in the water flow.
Another common place to find sediment in a house’s water system ins in the hot water heater. You can tell if you have a buildup here by listening to your hot water heater. If you hear rumbling or banging when it fills up or turns on then you probably have a buildup a sediment in there. This is a more complicated procedure but most home owners can do it. See my previous post on how to drain your water heater.
The way I resolved these issues in my own house was to install a whole house filter. I did it myself with push fittings but if you have doubt then call a plumber for a professional installation. These filters are cheap, can be found at most hardware stores, and usually resolve any further issues with water sediment making it to other problem areas throughout the house.