Help settle a plumbing dispute?

Christina0712January 30, 2013

Our house is around 70 years old & it's previous owners remodeled (2nd floor) attic & put in a bathroom. It's obvious that the insulation wasn't done properly because in the cold winters we have here, the hottest setting on the shower results in barely tepid water. After tiring of my complaints, my husband's quick fix was to increase the temperature on our water heater in the basement. While this helped with the shower's water temperature, NOW the hot AND cold water pressure in the bathroom sink (both the attic/2nd floor bathroom sink, as well as the 1st floor bathroom sink) is gone. He thinks this a coincidence and thinks we need to call the local water authority, versus a plumber. He doesn't understand why it would affect the cold water, and also why it would only seem to affect the sinks. I think he's crazy, and somehow the change in temperature has affected the pressure in the sinks (although not in the shower). Any thoughts are greatly appreciated.

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First things first. Make sure all the valves are open fully: Main water shut off, hot water heater valves, shut-off valves for the fixtures.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 2:28PM
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"Our house is around 70 years..."

What type of piping does it have?

This is old enough to have galvanized steel supply lines that are well past their ~30 year life.

They rust and corrode on the inside till flow is cut off.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 3:48PM
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You're husband, is he an engineer?
His logic is remarkable.

Guess what? You're right. He's crazy. Somehow, the change in temperature DID cause this! The corrosion building up in the 70 year old pipes, and in your water heater tank, are the reason for low pressure. The water being hotter dislodged a big chunk of crud and sent it through the pipes. If you take off the aerator from an offending faucet, I'll bet it's clogged with debris.

How's the washing machine filling with hot water?


I'll bet!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 5:54PM
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I think both you and your hubby are partially correct.

To hubby's credit, changing the temperature on the water heat would have absolutely no effect on the pressure:

On the other hand, you state that the reduced pressure is confined to the sinks and it is effecting both hot & cold, and you believe it had something to do with changing the water heater temp. You may well be correct, increasing the water heater temp could have resulted in loosening some of the scale built up in the tank, and particles of that scale could have been carried forward in the water. Now giving that the pressure problem is confined to the sinks, I would suspect that some of that loose scale has clogged up the screens in the sink spout areators.

The solution would be to remove the areators and rinse out the screens then reattach them.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 5:55PM
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What are th elines made of?

70 year old galvanized lines probably have well less than half their bore clear and are extremely rough on the inside, causing even greater pressure loss as the flow velocity increases in the small bore.

I remember about a 4-5 foot piece of 3/4 inch galvanized steel that you could bot see through until it was cut down to about 6 inch pieces.
The remaining lumen was about 1/8 inch high by 3/8 wide for almost the whole length.
It meandered around in the pipe diameter and was hard enough and rough enough to cut skin if you dared to stick a finger into the cut pieces.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 10:17AM
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Thanks to all for responding! Last night while my husband was busy, I snuck upstairs, unscrewed the aerator and was greeted by an enormous amount of little white rocks (calcium, I assume). I cleaned it out, screwed it back on, and it's back to normal! I wish I had a picture of his face when I announced that he was lucky he'd married a handy girl, because "I had fixed our plumbing problem." Thanks so much lazypup for the hints/advice!!

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 10:48AM
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you should have handed him a plumbing bill!

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 6:27PM
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