Seeing plastic debris stuck in our shower faucet valve second time in a week. Caused it to not close completely and leak. First picture shows the white plastic crumpled and stuck in the valve (like a foot thru a door that prevents it from closing completely).

enter image description hereThe second picture shows the stiff plastic debris unfolded with a quarter for scale. enter image description here

What is the likely source of this? What's a good way to isolate this if possible?

Additional data points:

  • We had a new Rheem water heater installed last year after our 1993 water heater leaked last year. I see some talks about '93 - '96 dip tubes being made of plastic that tend to disintegrate; but even after a year??

  • This is in the San Diego, Carmel Del Mar area and happened on the first shower from the house water mains, so I'll check with the city too.

  • The plastic is medium hard - kinda like a hard plastic bag (but not like hard molded plastic)

  • 1
    What is your question?
    – Damon
    Commented Sep 11, 2017 at 8:23
  • @Damon sorry, fixed that Commented Sep 11, 2017 at 14:05
  • Is the debris squidgy, like silicone sealant? Commented Sep 11, 2017 at 14:11
  • @AndrewMorton : no, it's like a hard plastic bag's texture. Updated the original post too Commented Sep 11, 2017 at 14:18
  • Might it be scraps from cutting PVC pipes? Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 1:09

2 Answers 2


I can assure you that is most definitely dip tube debris. If your water is excessively hot it could fail prematurely. If it was installed with heat directly on the water heater nipple the heat could have damaged it, causing it to fall into the tank and now it is falling apart from flopping around the tank and laying up against the heat exchanger if gas, or against the elements if electric. Easy way to tell is to remove the nipple on the cold side of the water heater. If the dip tube isn't there, you know it fell in from installation damage or has fallen apart.


I'd have to agree with your research, the Dip-Tube seems to be the culprit. Although, is it the new Dip-Tube or did the new water heater remove a restriction and is just flushing out the line piece by piece?

It could be from a Whole House Water Filter/Softener, excessive use of Teflon Tape, worn Dielectric Union(s), cheap Pressure Regulator or the water heater's Heat Traps...partial plastic plugs that are in the tops of both the Anode Rod and Dip-Tube.

Flush the Water Heater (maybe remove the drain for visual inspection) to see and fish-out more and bigger debris...replace the Dip-Tube. Put in a Warranty Claim to Rheem. Maybe it turns out that your Water Heater's heat is set too high (another Rheem warranty issue) or that your Municipality changed over to Chloramine from Chlorine. Boo Plastic!

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