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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Posts
    15

    Default Hot Water Flow is Poor

    Hi guys,
    My wife and I bought our first house a few months back. Over the last month or two, I have noticed the hot water flow or pressure is getting less and less. This is noticed all over the house and not just in a sink or shower etc. The cold water flow is satisfactory.

    I have recently flushed the hot water heater , it only seemed to have a little color to the water briefly. It didn't help the problem. We have city water. The house is 1890 with an electric hot water heater and copper pipes.

    Thank you for any help you can give me on what next to do.

    David

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Pacific Northwet
    Posts
    1,418

    Default Re: Hot Water Flow is Poor

    If there is ANY galvanized steel pipe or fittings in the system (such as a nipple installed at the water heater) it may be corroded nearly to the point of completely blocking the flow of water.

    Another possibility is a blocked valve. If you have any "compression stop" type valves -- the handle visibly screws in and out; they have a rubber washer that mates against a brass seat -- these typically have a much smaller orifice than the diameter of the pipe and can get plugged quite easily. If possible, replace with a full-port ball valve or a gate valve. (On a gate valve, it will take several full turns to open or close, and you won't see the handle screw in or out. A ball valve has a lever handle and is one quarter turn from on to off.)

    DO NOT use a plastic valve. They are junk.
    The "Senior Member" designation under my name doesn't mean I know a lot, it just means I talk a lot.I've been a DIYer since I was 12 (thanks, Dad!). I have read several books on various home improvement topics. I do not have any current code books I can refer to. I was an apprentice plumber for two years.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Hot Water Flow is Poor

    hi, thanks for your reply. I do not see any galvanized pipes. Here's a picture of the top of my water heater, is this what you mean by a compression valve?


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Posts
    15

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    5,436

    Default Re: Hot Water Flow is Poor

    Most of your pipes are actually inside the walls, and what you see exposed is only a small portion of your entire piping system. You still could have some galvanized pipes in there.

    From your photo, your shut off valve on the cold side is pretty old. You could replace it with a new 3/4" ball valve, like fencepost described.

    Now to the hot side: I wish I could see under the insulation the condition of the nipple extending out of the tank. It looks like you have 1/2" pipe that splits into two. I think that your problem is here. Replace the nipple and the T - make sure you use a 3/4" pipe from the nipple to a new 3/4" T.

    How old is your water heater? you can find out the year it was manufactured, right on the label.

    See if this improves your pressure. If yes, let us know. If not, let us know.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Hot Water Flow is Poor

    For the life of me I can't find a date. Below is a better pic of what you wanted to see and the label. Im def gonna need you guys to help if I start cutting pipe.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/gardens...in/photostream

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/gardens...in/photostream

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    South*East
    Posts
    1,183

    Default Re: Hot Water Flow is Poor

    The date on your heater is Jan. 1995. It's in the serial #. Most heaters last 6 t0 10 years. You have a new 3/4" PEX hot water line coming off the top of the heater. Did you have some hot water piping replaced?

    John

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Hot Water Flow is Poor

    Hi john,
    Thanks for your help with the date. My wife and I just bought the house two months ago so I am not sure with regards to the previous work. Would you still think the pipes off the top need replacing?
    David

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    South*East
    Posts
    1,183

    Default Re: Hot Water Flow is Poor

    The red 3/4" PEX hot water line with the pipe covering is new. That tells me some re-piping has been done. There may still be some old pipe that needs to be replaced. If it's galvanized that may be the cause of your problem with low hot water volume.

    John

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Pacific Northwet
    Posts
    1,418

    Default Re: Hot Water Flow is Poor

    The shutoff valve is almost certainly a globe valve. Judging by the size of the valve body, this one may have a larger orifice than most, but it still could be the point of restriction. A replacement valve doesn't need the drain port.

    I see that the both the input and output of the water heater are plumbed with 1/2" pipe. I would recommend replacing any 1/2" pipe with 3/4" that's on the cold side between the water source and the water heater. I'd also recommend replacing the output (hot) pipe so that it's 3/4" at least to that first tee just above the water heater.

    One thing that you do not want to do is use galvanized pipe. It may seem easier to install than copper, but it will fail much sooner and can't be joined to copper without a special dielectric union.

    If you elect to replace the water heater, install a shutoff switch near the water heater to make it easier (and safer) to service. This should be a double-pole switch rated for 20A 240V. A double-pole circuit breaker (same rating as the water heater breaker in the main panel) in a small breaker box would be a suitable option. If you don't do install a switch nearby, code requires that the breaker in the main panel be equipped with a means for lockout/tagout.
    Last edited by Fencepost; 03-26-2013 at 12:25 AM.
    The "Senior Member" designation under my name doesn't mean I know a lot, it just means I talk a lot.I've been a DIYer since I was 12 (thanks, Dad!). I have read several books on various home improvement topics. I do not have any current code books I can refer to. I was an apprentice plumber for two years.

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