What are these bits of metal coming out of my faucet?
October 2, 2018 8:07 PM   Subscribe

Little bits of metal are falling out of bathtub faucet. My derrière is scared. What can I or my building do about it? Pic below the fold...

I moved into my condo about 3 months ago. It's a new build, so all the bathroom fixtures are new. Two nights ago, I was running a bath and a clump of tiny metal ribbons fell out of the faucet, plus a few smaller bits (image). The big clump is just over an inch long. There were also some flakes of metal that were too small to pick up and went down the drain.

It hasn't happened again, but the pieces of metal have sharp edges and I could have easily sliced myself in some really unfortunate places. I worry about more coming out. Currently waiting to hear back from my building's customer care team about it.

Any idea what the metal bits are? Is there anything I or my building can do about it?
posted by notethisbean to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
Hard to tell without seeing it person, but it looks like someone used too much solder when sweating copper pipes and it ran down the inside of the pipe but did not bond to it. Could also be manufacturing debris in the tub spout or in the shower valve. I doubt it's going to be an ongoing problem.
If you're worried about it, you could take something with fine mesh (pantyhose, a sock, etc) and put it over the tub spigot (perhaps securing with a zip tie.) That will serve as a filter and catch any further debris. After you've used the tub a bunch of times and are no longer finding any fresh debris, you can remove the "filter."
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 8:17 PM on October 2, 2018 [13 favorites]

Concur it looks like solder, and am a bit surprised your faucet lacks a wire screen.
posted by aramaic at 9:28 PM on October 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

If this is the only fixture with stuff coming out of it, then your problem is near that faucet. My best advice is to run the tap on full for several minutes, to see if you can flush the remaining bits. Try it again later, to see if it runs clear again. Repeat a few times if needed. If that does not solve the problem, then you will have to get a plumber involved.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 8:39 AM on October 3, 2018

If they have little ribbons of solder coming out of the tap, and they never stop coming, I'm not sure what a plumber would do.

I would assume that this "problem" is "solved" with this one lump of solder.
posted by humboldt32 at 8:56 AM on October 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

For now, tie a piece of mesh - a toe of a sticking will work - to the faucet.
posted by theora55 at 11:08 AM on October 3, 2018

I don't believe that's solder. I cannot imagine how you would get solder to go through a pipe joint, but the real kicker is that it is a constant width. I think the "manufacturing debris" explanation is the correct one. I assume that the taps you drink out of do have screens. It might be worth removing them and seeing what is stuck behind them. If you find a bunch more, it's worth asking someone what is going on, perhaps starting with the local plumbing inspector or if you're feeling generous, with building management?
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 12:18 PM on October 3, 2018

I don't believe that's solder.

I have sloppily joined copper in just such a way as to produce basically what you're seeing here, although in a much smaller quantity.
posted by aspersioncast at 1:42 PM on October 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

If you can't imagine how you would get solder to go through a pipe joint, then you don't have much experience sweating copper.

No offense.
posted by humboldt32 at 2:46 PM on October 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! So far no more has emerged from that faucet, so I'll keep an eye on it and hopefully it was just a fluke. Is this the kind of thing that is a fluke or is it quite common?
posted by notethisbean at 6:33 AM on October 5, 2018

Any new construction should be well flushed before using. Yes post-construction crap in the lines is quite common. Especially in a development where quality may have been sacrificed for speed and efficiency.
posted by humboldt32 at 8:38 AM on October 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

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