How to clean sediment from water lines

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The presence of sand, silt, clay, and other solids in your water lines is never good news.

Not only can sediment damage your water-using appliances but it can as well negatively impact your water’s taste, feel, odor, and overall quality.

With that in mind, it is critical that suspended solids and other buildup including rust are removed- you can plan on performing this maintenance annually or anytime you notice an excessive amount of sediment.

Don’t worry if you have never done this- I will teach you how to clean sediment from water lines in no time in this blog post.

Truth be told, the process of flushing dirt out of water lines is quite simple and anyone can do it.

Here is how to clean sediment from water lines…

How to clean sediment from water lines

Do you know what I love most about the sediment headache? Unlike some other plumbing issues, here you don’t need to rent or buy any expensive equipment.

Here are the three approaches and the specific steps:

Stage 1:  Backflushing cold water (hot water lines)

There are a number of tactics sued to eliminate sediment from hot water pipes but perhaps none is as easy as flushing cold water through them.



For your safety, shut off the system. You should turn the water heater off then proceed to close the inlet valve.

Tip:  As part of the safety mechanisms, the pilot light should be turned off as well in gas-powered heaters.

Step 1:

The first step is to hook the water hose to your heater’s drain with the end being placed in a floor drain.

Now, the idea is to have water pour into this floor drain so you must open the drain located at the base of your water heater.

Tip: Check that water actually empties into the drain (floor) before attempting the next step.

Step 2:

Locate the faucet that is the farthest from your water heater.

Place a coin, rubber stopper, or any suitable material in its aerator to plug it then screw the aerator back into place.

Step 3:

You’re still working at the now plugged faucet.

Do the following:

  • Turn on and leave the cold water to flow for about 40 minutes.

Note: During this time, the cold water is forced into your hot pipes at a higher pressure. This will, in turn, flush the sediments and all other debris out via the garden hose.

  • Turn off your cold water supply after 40 minutes. Mission accomplished!

Step 4:

Remove the plug and the hose.

Step 5:

Shut the inlet valve to the water heater and open its drain valve.

Step 6:

Fill the heater with water then turn it on. Remember to put the pilot light back on if you’re working on a gas heater.

That’s all. You should have no more sediment bothering your hot water pipes.

Recirculating pump

Stage 2:   Flushing other pipes

Now move to other pipes you suspect of hiding sediment and flush them too.


Step 1:

Turn on 3 or 4 cold water faucets in your house and have them run continuously for approximately 20 minutes.

That is adequate time to get the rust and other particles to come out.

Tip: To clear everything- even the settled deposits- we suggest that you ensure that the water runs at maximum pressure during the operation.

Step 2:

Wait for another 30 minutes then repeat the above flushing process.

Note that this step may not be necessary- it only applies in situations where you sight leftover sediment after finishing step 1.

Tip: You can accelerate the sediment removal from your supply lines by turning on your garden hose and having it run – at full pressure- alongside the faucets for the 20 minutes.

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Stage 3: Clean sediment from the aerators in the faucets

The mesh in the aerators on the myriad faucets is susceptible to attracting sediment and it’s important to clean them all if you’re to completely get rid of sediment from the water lines.


Step 1:

Remove the aerators from the faucets by unscrewing them with your bare hands/a wrench.

Step 2:

Wash the parts with water thoroughly. This should eliminate the nasty sediment buildup.

Step 3:

Reinstall the aerators back on the correct way.

Tip: As sediment could break free when detaching the aerators, always clear the supply lines before re-attaching them. To be certain, run water through the faucet (without the aerator) until you get clean flow. It’s only then that you should put the accessory back on.

Other ways of eradication sediment from your water lines

The issue of sediment in water systems is pretty common and there are a couple of inventions designed to fix it.

We give you a rundown of some of these alternative solutions below:

Whole-house sediment filter

A whole-house filter may be the way to go if you’re repeatedly experiencing stray sediment in your water.

A quality brand should help catch most sediment particles with the built-in mesh and should reduce the frequency at which you need to do the cleaning.

The best part is that some are available with several customizable filter cartridge choices and fit a variety of filtration needs.

See this great example.

Household cleaners

Another option that can help is the use of common household cleaners.

The options that tend to do the job well include vinegar and baking soda (pour baking soda then the mixture of vinegar and water down the lines).

If you have, however, tried these without much success, you should consider pouring renowned commercial products such as the CLR Jelmar Pro Cleaner and waiting (follow the usage instructions).

Knowing how to clean sediment from water lines can save you time and money.

More importantly, you and your family will enjoy your water again – no more unpleasant tastes or odors. 

On timing, you’ll know you need to clean the water lines if the water looks rusty (or dirty) and is foul-smelling or when you start noticing large amounts of sediments in the water.

There are other signs of sediment buildup including water draining much slower than you’re used to.

Be sure to consult a professional plumber if the sediment keeps coming back- it could be pointing to more serious defects in your plumbing fixtures.


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