Author Topic: Cold Showers  (Read 1115 times)

dneck37

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Cold Showers
« on: December 16, 2021, 07:07:27 AM »
Hey Guys,

My shower on the 2nd floor of my 100 year old house doesnt get hot anymore. My water heater is turned all the way up and the first level sink/dishwasher all get super hot. My sink upstairs gets hot but not as hot as on the first floor and my shower is basically luke warm. I have tried a few things. I took apart the mixing valve cartridge and cleaned that, when that didn't work I replaced the whole mixing valve 6 months ago that worked for a while, a lot warmer but still not as hot as first floor. Most recently I removed and cleaned the cartridge and then flushed the hot and cold sides of the valve by just letting it spray out of the wall. The hot side got a lot hotter still not as hot as first floor but much better with no cartridge. A couple flecks came out into the tub and the water was a little warmer but still not "hot" after I reassembled everything. Anyone have any other methods i should try? Im thinking about replacing the valve again and putting a clean out between the supply hot water shutoff valve and the mixing valve maybe there's more flecks/build up behind the mixing valve. Or maybe I should just call in a plumber and see what they think? I have a 8 month pregnant wife and she is not happy with the situation.



Malcat

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Re: Cold Showers
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2021, 07:53:15 AM »
Hey Guys,

My shower on the 2nd floor of my 100 year old house doesnt get hot anymore. My water heater is turned all the way up and the first level sink/dishwasher all get super hot. My sink upstairs gets hot but not as hot as on the first floor and my shower is basically luke warm. I have tried a few things. I took apart the mixing valve cartridge and cleaned that, when that didn't work I replaced the whole mixing valve 6 months ago that worked for a while, a lot warmer but still not as hot as first floor. Most recently I removed and cleaned the cartridge and then flushed the hot and cold sides of the valve by just letting it spray out of the wall. The hot side got a lot hotter still not as hot as first floor but much better with no cartridge. A couple flecks came out into the tub and the water was a little warmer but still not "hot" after I reassembled everything. Anyone have any other methods i should try? Im thinking about replacing the valve again and putting a clean out between the supply hot water shutoff valve and the mixing valve maybe there's more flecks/build up behind the mixing valve. Or maybe I should just call in a plumber and see what they think? I have a 8 month pregnant wife and she is not happy with the situation.
[/b]

For this reason, I would call a plumber.

yachi

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Re: Cold Showers
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2021, 08:00:46 AM »
Do you have an isolation valve on the cold water line to your shower?  If so, close that and see what temperature hot water you get.  If it's good and hot, and OK-ish pressure, maybe you can throttle that cold water valve to help out the mixing valve a bit. 
If you close the cold water supply to the shower and the temperature never gets hot, I'd suspect something other than the mixing valve.  Maybe a cross connection when it gets to the second floor.

sonofsven

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Re: Cold Showers
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2021, 08:22:11 AM »
Is the second floor water piping original (100 yr old)?
Sounds like rust in the pipes or something clogging it; it's always worse on the hot side.

dneck37

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Re: Cold Showers
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2021, 08:42:14 AM »
I think I'll try throttling the cold water valve maybe its providing more water pressure.

They are the original pipes until the last 6 feet leading to the shower so I do worry about clogging. I did a vinegar water heater/pipe flush when i changed the mixing valve and it did spit out a lot of rust pieces at that time.

Sibley

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Re: Cold Showers
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2021, 08:57:26 AM »
You've got old galvanized pipes? You most likely need to repipe, though it may or may not be causing the current problem. However, unless you want a divorce, if you can't fix this today, call a plumber.

YttriumNitrate

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Re: Cold Showers
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2021, 09:10:51 AM »
Do you live in an area that gets cold, and if so, did the decrease in water temp correspond with the weather getting colder?

innkeeper77

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Re: Cold Showers
« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2021, 11:32:33 AM »
If these are galvanized pipes, it may be VERY EXPENSIVE for a plumber to fix, as you need new pipes. I had to replace all the pipes in our first house, they were 60 year old galvanized steel pipes. I needed a sawzall, and every chunk I cut out was entirely FULL of rust. This was a small postwar house with minimal piping, and if you are lucky you can reach the majority of the pipes from your unfinished basement. Even in my case, there was a fair amount of drywall repair we had to do. A more modern house will be a much more involved job- and the plumbers don't fix the drywall they have to remove to get to the repair area!

I ended up using expansion PEX with a milwuakee PEX expander tool system. It was fairly easy, but tedious- the majority of the work was removing old pipe, not installing new stuff. (I did have to learn copper soldering for making some manifolds and using copper near the water heater where PEX would have been a tiny melting hazard)

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Cold Showers
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2021, 06:28:03 AM »
First, given your circumstances if you cannot fix it quickly bite the bullet and get a plumber out to fix it. I will cost you but it will likely be quicker to figure out and fix compared to DIY'ing it.

I think I followed what you have done to date and I have to agree with the others that there is likely a larger problem here, such as old corroded pipes that are in need of replacement. I've never had to work with pipes that weren't copper/PVC/CPVC/PEX, but my suspicion is the pipes (specifically the hot pipe) have corroded and are now shedding and fouling the internals of the cartridge. That would explain why replacing the cartridge worked for a while and why things get hotter without the (stopped-up) cartridge. As to the water not being as hot as downstairs without the valve, no matter how good the pipes some amount of temperature drop is normal as distance increases, but corroded pipes with a reduced diameter could make it worse.

If it is, as the consensus appears to be, that the original pipe has reached end of life, the only real solution is to replumb. And if the upstairs bathroom hot has reached end of life ... well its likely so has the rest of the house (both hot and cold) or will soon. I suppose a short term solution could be to replace the cartridge, it has worked for a time before but it will likely happen again.

Can you take the aerator screens of some of the sinks in the house, including the one in the impacted bathroom, and see if there is similar debris caught in them?

Sibley

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Re: Cold Showers
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2021, 07:19:16 PM »
Galvanized pipe isn't inherently bad, it just has a lifespan of about 50 years, and it's hitting end of life. I believe hot corrodes faster than cold water. You can try clearing it out some with compressed air, but you might break stuff since it's old and may be thin.

That said, there are applications where galvanized is perfectly fine. I've got it on a section of the pipe for the outside hose spigot. It's cheaper than copper, and when you need rigidity pex isn't going to work. Putting it inside the wall and then waiting 50 years isn't so fun.

dneck37

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Re: Cold Showers
« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2021, 07:20:05 AM »
Do you live in an area that gets cold, and if so, did the decrease in water temp correspond with the weather getting colder?


Yes I am in iowa and the temp did drop a lot only recently but its been under 45F here for the last 1.5 months.

dneck37

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Re: Cold Showers
« Reply #11 on: December 20, 2021, 07:25:27 AM »
Sounding like its going to be a replumb to ultimately fix, plumber comes tomorrow. Any thoughts on an acid flush of the pipes or would i need to be worried about them becoming damages since they may be too old?

yachi

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Re: Cold Showers
« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2021, 10:50:21 AM »
Sounding like its going to be a replumb to ultimately fix, plumber comes tomorrow. Any thoughts on an acid flush of the pipes or would i need to be worried about them becoming damages since they may be too old?

I think an acid flush would be great if your problem is a buildup of minerals cause by hard water.  But if it's corrosion, I think an acid flush is more likely to speed up the corrosion.  If it's corrosion of the pipes, and you were able to get the pipes back to their original diameter by removing the corrosion, your next failure mode would be pinhole leaks.

dneck37

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Re: Cold Showers
« Reply #13 on: December 21, 2021, 01:38:41 PM »
Finally got the plumber out looks like my cartridge went bad. He took it apart and didnt find anything wrong with it, but put on a replacement and it worked like a charm. He said apparently sometimes the cartridges just go bad, no way to tell when and just by looking at it have to plug in and see. Lame answer for $100 but glad my shower is hot again!

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Cold Showers
« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2021, 04:40:08 PM »
Reminds me of the story of the old factory engineer who retired, but was called in on contract to fix an old machine.  He opens it up, presses a button, and hands a bill to the factory owner for $1000: $5 for pressing the button, and $995 for knowing what button to press.  You paid the plumber for his expertise, not his labor :)

In any case, a $100 cartridge replacement sure beats a several-thousand-dollar replumbing job!

PMJL34

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Re: Cold Showers
« Reply #15 on: December 26, 2021, 09:08:45 PM »
Good job calling a plumber given your wife's situation, but am I the only one who thinks the OP is going to have the same issues in less than 6 months?

You just did this fix 6 months ago. A new valve may fix this temporarily, but I don't think you've addressed the corroded pipes that keep clogging your pipe/valve. It only gets worse.

I hope I'm wrong.

Best of luck.

Sibley

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Re: Cold Showers
« Reply #16 on: December 27, 2021, 10:56:59 AM »
Good job calling a plumber given your wife's situation, but am I the only one who thinks the OP is going to have the same issues in less than 6 months?

You just did this fix 6 months ago. A new valve may fix this temporarily, but I don't think you've addressed the corroded pipes that keep clogging your pipe/valve. It only gets worse.

I hope I'm wrong.

Best of luck.

It's possible. Even if the cartridge itself isn't getting clogged, 50 year old galvanized IS end of life. OP, you need to seriously plan to repipe at some point in the next couple years (ideally before something breaks).

For reference, I'm planning to repipe the rest of the galvanized water lines in my house. Not sure if it's a summer or winter project, but it'll happen this year. And I'm not sure about the drain lines yet.

affordablehousing

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Re: Cold Showers
« Reply #17 on: December 30, 2021, 11:13:23 AM »
Ditto. Most of the issues accumulate in the last stretch of piping. You can extend the utility of old galvy by changing out the nipples and valves, but you're just delaying the inevitable. Plan to get pex if rodents aren't an issue, or pony up for the good copper if they could be. It's nothing you did wrong, or a punishment, it's just the inevitable breakdown of a material over time that needs replacing.