Finding the cause of plumbing problems.

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Old 04-21-08, 06:43 PM
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Finding the cause of plumbing problems.

I have a 1908 bungalow with the plumbing to match. The water pressure is sporadic from location to location, and it seems you can never take a shower with a steady temperature.

We recently had the old electric water heater replaced, and the installer told us our problem was that we have 3/4" lines throughout the house. He said everything after the hot water heater should only be 1/2" lines.

He said at the water heater, we should have a 3/4 x 3/4 x 1/2 Tee fitting with the 1/2" supplying the cold water to the rest of the house with all 1/2" lines. 3/4" line going into the water heater and a 1/2" on the output of the water heater supplying all the hot water on 1/2" lines.

This was something to do with a 1/2" line can handle half of the water a 3/4" line can handle so when we split into hot and cold, we need to divide properly to maintain balance.

Right now, there is 3/4" galvanized with 1/2" takeoffs to each usage point.

Is this something I should look into $$$ wise, or is it possible our problem is elsewhere?
 
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Old 04-21-08, 08:35 PM
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He's wrong. Having galvanized pipes may be an issue, if not now, then someday in the future (they corrode with age)... but having 3/4 piping throughout the house is not an issue. In fact, depending on the layout of your bathrooms/kitchen/laundry rooms, 3/4 pipe can often be required by code (depends on the number of fixtures served by a branch line).
 
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Old 04-22-08, 01:03 PM
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I'd agree with thezster. The only downside to larger supply pipes is the time it takes for hot water to flow from the water heater to the fixture. (3/4" pipes hold a lot more 'cold' water that has to be displaced before the hot water arrives). Regardless, this problem is often overlooked since 3/4" pipe can more easily supply water to multiple fixtures so you don't get scalded as easily when the toilet flushes.

Are the faucets in the house especially old and/or seemingly cheap? Cheap (and sometimes older) faucets have trouble regulating between hot and cold and keeping a constant flow. It could also be your old galvanized pipes are clogged due to high mineral content in your water. If that's the case, instead of 3/4" pipes you really have 1/4" pipes.

Do the faucets closer to your water heater or main seem to work better and more consistently? Are you on city water or a well?
 
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Old 04-22-08, 02:10 PM
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I'm on city water, and yes the faucet directly above the water heater (the kitchen sink) never has any problems and is always full pressure and maintains temperature. In fact, if someone is using the kitchen facilities, the water there takes full priority over the bathrooms. By turning on the kitchen sink, you can pretty much stop the shower from working all together.

There are two outlying bathrooms (one upstairs, one downstairs) that always show problems with both pressure and temperature, even if the kitchen sink is not being used.

The fixtures and the pipes are/look very old all around. There's even a small section of black iron pipe I've been meaning to replace...
 
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Old 04-22-08, 02:50 PM
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Sounds like your old galvanized pipes need to be replaced - a spendy and messy proposition usually... Not out of the realm of a DIYer - and sometimes you can get lucky with a relatively easy replacement... but that is not the norm....
 
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Old 04-22-08, 03:11 PM
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Well, I think you are right about the pipes... they do need replaced and I will probably have this done by a plumber simply because I don't have the time to mess with it right now. I am a little concerned about the whole 3/4" 1/2" debate, but I will discuss it with the plumber some more. I don't see how he could recommend 1/2 lines after the water heater, if local code requires 3/4 lines if they are servicing more than 2 fixtures...

Thanks for the advice...
 
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