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Old 12-30-2014, 10:38 PM   #1
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Airlock in one bathroom on same level as hot water tanks


Hi. I have a vacation property that has a problem with a recurring airlock in one bathroom.

The problem bathroom is on the lower level and is roughly the same height within the house as the hot water tank (dual tanks, daisy-chained) which are in the garage. All other taps on the UPPER level are fine - kitchen, laundry, master bath.

Since the upper level, which includes the laundry, is not affected i have not tried the washing machine hot/cold crossover method.

I *think* the cause is from filling the tub on the upper level and then trying to use hot water on the lower level.

Not sure if this is relevant, but the property is at about 6500' elevation.

This typically clears itself with a day or two.

- Is there a way to clear this faster?
- How can I prevent this from happening (other than not filling the upstairs tub when needing the downstairs shower)?

Thanks!

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Old 12-31-2014, 05:15 AM   #2
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Airlock in one bathroom on same level as hot water tanks


I am not familiar with 'air lock' in residential plumping---what exactly is happening?

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Old 12-31-2014, 07:29 AM   #3
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Airlock in one bathroom on same level as hot water tanks


not sure Iam following you ..are you talking about air lock in the drain thats what Iam thinking ....need to see a layout of some sort to determine what is happening....sounds like you need venting changes.reguardless of the level if the vents are installed right you should not get air lock..Iam going to say you have a venting issue . has it always done this, did it just start, maybe a clog.
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Old 12-31-2014, 11:30 AM   #4
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Airlock in one bathroom on same level as hot water tanks


Sorry - maybe I am using a British term which would explain why most of my search results are coming from .uk sites.

When I say "air lock" I am referring to something (air?) blocking hot water from reaching this particular bathroom. When I open the hot water taps, nothing comes out. Cold water is fine and all other faucets in the house are delivering hot and cold water fine. What is the proper US term for this?

Most of the (uk) help sites I have found suggest connecting the cold water hose from the washer to the the hot water connection to force the air back into the hot water system and thus relieving the air lock and allowing hot water to flow normally. But, in my case, the washer is on the upper level and affected.

Thanks.
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Old 12-31-2014, 11:49 AM   #5
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Airlock in one bathroom on same level as hot water tanks


I heard of air locks in plumbing. Usually happens when the main water is shut off and on, as maintenance is being done on hot water heater, boiler, draining systems, or new plumbing installed, etc. Had any of that done lately?

However, you say this happens all the time, especially when filling upstairs tub and running downstairs washing machine at the same time. Then after a day or two it's back to normal.

Have you ruled out a faulty washing machine supply lines or washing machine inlet valve as the cause? I would start there being how the problem is isolated to the washing machine hot water and the bathroom upstairs hot water, running at the same time, if I am understanding this correctly.

Not really sure what the problem is. Others will be along shortly with more advice/suggestions as to what it could be.

Last edited by jmon; 12-31-2014 at 12:19 PM.
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Old 12-31-2014, 12:26 PM   #6
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Thanks for the reply jmon. But, I do not believe the washing machine is at fault (or part of the solution) as it is on the upper level of the house where everything works fine. My last post should have ended with "the washer is on the upper level and NOT affected."

The trigger appears to be filling the UPSTAIRS tub (which is fairly large) with hot water and then trying to turn on hot water DOWNSTAIRS (say, in the shower). Also note that the hot water tanks are on the DOWNSTAIRS level.

And to answer your question, no, the water has not been shut off at any time recently.
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Old 12-31-2014, 12:40 PM   #7
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Airlock in one bathroom on same level as hot water tanks


An airlock will not block water flow. The water is under pressure. It will simply blow the air out of the lines. You will get spurting and spitting at the fixture but air will always just blow out of the lines. It takes something solid to block water lines.
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Old 12-31-2014, 12:46 PM   #8
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Thanks joed. Again, I may be using improper terminology (at least here in the US). I have been getting most of my information (and improper terminology) here.

I can't imagine any physical blockage as again the situation will clear itself over time. And once hot water starts flowing, there is no discoloration of the water, etc.

When I open the hot faucets on the sink, I do hear some slight hissing, but that will stop after 15-20 seconds. I have left the taps wide open for hours but that doesn't seem to fix anything.
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Old 12-31-2014, 02:31 PM   #9
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Airlock in one bathroom on same level as hot water tanks


I still don't get why the pressure wouldn't just push the air out of the line. The title of that article is air in central heating system yet they are talking about air a hot water supply line. Makes no sense to me.
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Old 12-31-2014, 02:55 PM   #10
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When they refer to "central heating system" they are referring to a central hot water system (vs point-of-use hot water heaters).

But, agree that the pressure discussion doesn't make sense as in my case the hot water tanks are on the same level as the affected bathroom, presumably requiring less water pressure than the upstairs outlet, which should require greater pressure to reach.
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Old 12-31-2014, 04:38 PM   #11
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Airlock in one bathroom on same level as hot water tanks


How is the water delivered to the house- well, city, or something else?
Do you know the delivery pressure?
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Old 12-31-2014, 04:49 PM   #12
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Airlock in one bathroom on same level as hot water tanks


Quote:
Originally Posted by ccoulson View Post
When I say "air lock" I am referring to something (air?) blocking hot water from reaching this particular bathroom. When I open the hot water taps, nothing comes out. Cold water is fine and all other faucets in the house are delivering hot and cold water fine.
I'm wondering if somehow a heat trap valve is involved in the blockage to the downstairs bathroom somehow. At your water heater, how are the lines branched to go upstairs and to the downstairs bathroom with the problem? Is there something in the hot water line to the downstairs bathroom (heat trap valve)?

If there's a separate heat trap valve going to the downstairs bathroom, maybe sediment from the water heater is being raised when the upstairs bathtub is filled and the sediment is getting high enough to block the heat trap to the downstairs bathroom. Then after a few days the sediment gradually falls back down allowing hot water to the downstairs bathroom to flow. I don't know if this scenario is even possible but it is one that comes to mind.

If you haven't flushed out your water heaters for a while, it would probably be a good idea to flush it now. It should be flushed anyway so no loss by doing it. Here's a link to a good video on how to do that. The focus is poor but the procedures are good.



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Old 12-31-2014, 05:26 PM   #13
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Airlock in one bathroom on same level as hot water tanks


Is this some sort of gravity based water supply?
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Old 12-31-2014, 05:31 PM   #14
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Airlock in one bathroom on same level as hot water tanks


Quote:
Originally Posted by TheEplumber View Post
How is the water delivered to the house- well, city, or something else?
Do you know the delivery pressure?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghostmaker View Post
Is this some sort of gravity based water supply?
I've never seen air lock on a pressure system......
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Old 12-31-2014, 05:47 PM   #15
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Airlock in one bathroom on same level as hot water tanks


Me neither. Happy New Year old man!!!!

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