It is that time of year again, our Annual Flushing Program is underway! We always get a lot of questions around this time of year as to why we do this, so please follow the link to see what areas we are currently flushing in!
Smelling Extra Chlorine?
You may notice a more pronounced chlorine taste or odor in the water during springtime flushing. This is because our largest supplier, Fairfax Water, switches from chloramines to free chlorine as a disinfectant during flushing to optimize treatment. Free chlorine has a more noticeable chlorine taste and odor than chloramines. This will dissipate when water is left in an open container in the refrigerator. Letting water sit in a glass for a moment will also take care of air bubbles that are stirred up during flushing and cause the milky appearance.
Loudoun Water is unable to advise customers of the exact date the water mains serving a particular area will be flushed or whether water service in an area will be affected. If your service is currently affected, it should only be for a short period, usually no more than a couple of days. We regret any inconvenience flushing may cause.
Seeing Black Specks?
Perhaps the most common cause of black specks in tap water is from the deterioration of rubber materials used in plumbing fixtures. Gaskets and O-rings can degrade over time and the pieces can collect in toilet tanks and around faucets. Braided stainless-steel flex connections, toilet tank valves, and gaskets are common sources. If they are made of neoprenes, nitriles, isoprene and/or natural rubber materials they tend to degrade when in contact with the chlorine or chloramines in the tap water. Chloramines cause a more rapid breakdown with cracking and loss of elasticity and strength. You need to look for materials that are resistant to chloramines such as silicon-based rubber, synthetic polymers or fluorocarbon, or copper and nylon flex connections. The products should be labeled with explanations that they are more resistant to chlorine and chloramines.
If the specks can be smudged between your fingers, then it is likely a deteriorating rubber material. If it does not smudge easily between your fingers, then it is likely sediment or manganese. For sediment or manganese, flush the lines in your home and give us a call so we can flush the water distribution mains servicing your home to help clear the pipes. Newly constructed or renovated buildings can experience similar problems with particles. Sometimes plumbers disturb a plumbing system as they go about their work. Sometimes new systems need to be broken in. Flushing the system really well can be a remedy.
We are in the middle of our annual flushing program which consists of flowing water out of selected fire hydrants in order to remove accumulated sediment, improve water delivery and increase chlorine residuals in the water. The flushing is performed by drawing enough water through the mains at sufficient force and duration to flush out accumulated deposits of sediments. By use of valve closures, workers are able to isolate the main being flushed and direct the flow of water one way towards a fire hydrant. The main is then flushed by opening a hydrant at sufficient velocity to loosen and remove sediment, resulting in clean, clear water. The flushing program helps maintain flow capacity and water quality in the distribution system; remove impurities associated with new and repaired mains, and helps eliminate taste, odors and discoloration from the water. We also test and perform routine maintenance on valves and fire hydrants during the flushing operation.
Flushing may result in some temporary discoloration in the water, or air in the line, which is common during any interruption or disturbance in the distribution system. When air is present the water may appear cloudy but you will notice that the water will begin to rapidly clear from the bottom up when left standing in a clear glass. This will improve as you run the taps in your home to flush out your residential plumbing.