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Old 08-01-2013, 11:00 PM   #31
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Hot water from cold pipes, plumbers are stumped


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Originally Posted by gregzoll
Ghostmaker, again, what is the temperature of the water coming out at the fixtures, when you turn on the Cold water faucet? You have never stated that temp, just keep going on that the water is hot, now you are pulling stuff up about something irrelevant.

Hot to some may not be hot to others, and it helps to know what is the physical measured temp. that you are getting, when you turn on the Cold water at various fixtures in the home, this includes the outside water spigot.
How would Ghost know the temps?

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Old 08-01-2013, 11:18 PM   #32
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Hot water from cold pipes, plumbers are stumped


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How would Ghost know the temps?

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Go back and look at post #10. Asked Seabeast, not Ghost, sorry. This thread is getting to the point that it is just going askew now, what what Ghost asked.

Thanks for the catch.
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Old 08-01-2013, 11:49 PM   #33
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Hot water from cold pipes, plumbers are stumped


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Originally Posted by gregzoll View Post
Seabeast again, what is the temperature of the water coming out at the fixtures, when you turn on the Cold water faucet? You have never stated that temp, just keep going on that the water is hot, now you are pulling stuff up about something irrelevant.

Hot to some may not be hot to others, and it helps to know what is the physical measured temp. that you are getting, when you turn on the Cold water at various fixtures in the home, this includes the outside water spigot.
I did previously reply to your request for temps, way back in post #15 of the thread: Hot water from cold pipes, plumbers are stumped

But I'll give the short version again for convenience: 110 degrees F.

I live in San Jose, CA 95138. If you check a weather website, you'll find that we've been having very moderate days in the upper 70s, and cool nights in the mid 50s: http://www.wunderground.com/history/....html#calendar

I contend that after cooling overnight in below 60F darkness, it's not normal to have 110F water coming from your cold pipes in the morning. Furthermore, the problem has been going on for at least a year, including the cooler winter months. Agreed?

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BTW Ghost, a little heavy on the 411. Goes way past what the OP is trying to figure out, and still cannot figure out how that fits in. Me thinks that we need to go back to the basic problem, which I am going with either the OP lives where they may have a heat wave going on for that period, which caused incoming water temps to be higher than average, like we did last year all across the country, or that they have a messed up plumbing system with that recirc, and that is what is causing the issue, not this all over the board reasoning of what it could be, but actually may not.
Actually, I appreciate the 411, and in fact he's convinced me that when I do end up hiring a plumber to add check valves or whatever, I'll also see about having a thermostatic mixer installed. I like keeping the WH pretty hot, but 120F is all we need at the handles. I hadn't realized the temperatures varied so wildly in a normally-functioning WH.

That said, my priority is still resolving my original problem.

-Seabeast
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Old 08-02-2013, 07:42 AM   #34
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Hot water from cold pipes, plumbers are stumped


One thing is clear. The recirc loop is compromised. In my experience this has always been traced to the dish sprayer in the kitchen. (institutional) These are connected to both hot and cold water and left turned on while the trigger on the spray nozzle is used periodically to release the water. There are in line back flow preventers installed that arrest the flow of water through the fixture in either direction. When these fail the fixture becomes a flow through branch that will feed other fixtures when they are opened. This will happen without a pump involved too.

Somewhere in your homes plumbing there is a bridge. You have stated that all worked well at one point then abruptly went south. Something changed to cause this and your memory of any new equipment or removal of old equipment is going to take you to the culprit. Something like a laundry tub with a hose and a hose end sprayer attached to it, if left on will appear harmless enough but the water will flow in the pipes. It has to be somewhere.
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Old 08-02-2013, 08:53 AM   #35
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Hot water from cold pipes, plumbers are stumped


A little buried back there seabeast. You have issues with a crossover or that recirc system. Is there a valve somewhere that is open before or after the pump, that shouldn't? Personally I would take it out of the loop, get rid of it, if it is tempering water that high, there are issues with the way it was designed.

Do not know if this was inquired about before, what is the longest single pipe run from the water heater to the last fixture in the house? How old is the water heater?

This is the tempering valve we had installed http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1 My plumber placed two gate valves behind it, so that if we need to remove to clean any crud out of the two cups inside, we can shut it off. I have to use the hot water Ball valve to adjust the hot water, due to using the adjustment on the fixture valve itself, does not do the job properly. Only bad thing I can state about it, is that the water pressure is lower to the toilet that it goes to, not at the full psi that we get incoming. The wife is happy, that the toilet does not sweat. There are others out there, that are built different than this one, so look around, since the one I posted is just an example.
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Old 08-02-2013, 10:24 AM   #36
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Hot water from cold pipes, plumbers are stumped


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When faucets in our house are first used, you get a long wave of hot water from the cold water side.
Let us assume a shower valve or single lever faucet is defective and passing hot to your cold line. Most of your cold line is full of hot water. That would explain needing to run the cold for 10-15 seconds before seeing cold water. But I would expect that your other shower/faucets are branched off the main cold line. So I would expect that your faucets have several feet of actual cold (ambient) water before hitting hot water that should be cold. You should be seeing brief cool water before the hot starts coming out. If most of your faucets do produce a brief cool pulse, but one has immediate hot water, then the one with immediate hot water is a prime candidate for being defective.

Another thing you could maybe try, is to turn off the pump, then crack all the hot faucets just a little (to keep the hot water flowing). After a while (not sure how long, maybe a couple of hours) turn each faucet to cold, one at a time. With the pump off, you should see immediate cold water at all faucets except the one with the bad cartridge, that is passing hot water to the cold side.

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Old 08-02-2013, 10:45 AM   #37
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Hot water from cold pipes, plumbers are stumped


This must be why recirculating pumps aren't popular in my area.....
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Old 08-02-2013, 06:24 PM   #38
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Hot water from cold pipes, plumbers are stumped


I do not understand all the confusion. If he turns off the pump his water system starts acting like a normal system without a pump. A cross connection would not go away.
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Old 08-02-2013, 06:57 PM   #39
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One thing is clear. The recirc loop is compromised. In my experience this has always been traced to the dish sprayer in the kitchen. (institutional) These are connected to both hot and cold water and left turned on while the trigger on the spray nozzle is used periodically to release the water. There are in line back flow preventers installed that arrest the flow of water through the fixture in either direction. When these fail the fixture becomes a flow through branch that will feed other fixtures when they are opened. This will happen without a pump involved too.

Somewhere in your homes plumbing there is a bridge. You have stated that all worked well at one point then abruptly went south. Something changed to cause this and your memory of any new equipment or removal of old equipment is going to take you to the culprit. Something like a laundry tub with a hose and a hose end sprayer attached to it, if left on will appear harmless enough but the water will flow in the pipes. It has to be somewhere.
The only sprayer in the kitchen is in the main faucet head, and it doesn't have its own on/off valve. And I tried turning off the hot water input to the kitchen faucet, but the problem persisted.

We don't have a Jacuzzi, hot tub, laundry tub with hose sprayer, or any other water connections I can think of that I haven't listed here already.

I suppose it's possible I have two cross-connects, and thus my systematic one-by-one disabling of the hot water to each faucet might not have stopped the problem.

This weekend I intend to remove the base plates around the in-wall shower valves, and then take my IR thermometer and try to find one (or more!!) valves with unusually warm cold-water connections. That seems like the most direct diagnostic method suggested here so far.

I'm also going to try taking a look at my neighbor's hot water setups, just to make sure I'm properly remembering the original state of mine.

Thanks everyone for sticking with me on this issue. At this point I'm not sure if my wife is more annoyed by the hot water or by my obsession with resolving it.

-Brett
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Old 08-05-2013, 06:18 PM   #40
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This weekend I intend to remove the base plates around the in-wall shower valves, and then take my IR thermometer and try to find one (or more!!) valves with unusually warm cold-water connections. That seems like the most direct diagnostic method suggested here so far.
I did this, and it was totally inconclusive. All of the valves had four (!!) pipes coming together at their base, and my IR thermometer and my own fingers claim the pipes are all at the same temperature for all valves. So at this point I feel like I've ruled out a leak in every mixer valve in the house, which either means the problem isn't a valve, or else I messed up in one of my experiments.

This surprised me for a couple reasons, one of which is that I thought 4 pipes only made sense if you assumed one was for the recirculated water (cold-in, hot-in, hot-out-for-recirculation, and warm-out-to-shower-head). But given my temperature readings, it seems each valve is likely on a branch off the main recirculation line.

I did verify that the recirculation pump was running when I did this test, and verified that I got hot (120F, this time) water from the cold side of a nearby sink.

Some other possibly relevant observations and discoveries:
  • I used my IR thermometer to read the temperatures of the hot and cold water heater connections. I read 110F on the cold line where the WH hose connects to the copper house plumbing, e.g. about three feet from the WH inlet. I'm not sure how much heat ought to be conducted out of the WH pipes, but to me this reading suggests I'm getting significant hot water backflow from the WH into the cold pipes. This implies a cold-water check valve would be effective in stopping the problem, even if this isn't the original cause.
  • Talking to a friend in my neighborhood (same home builder), he reported his plumber finding a defective flow restriction valve inside a wall with no access: he had to cut his way in to replace it. Not sure how common it is to "hide" devices like this behind walls, but it really makes me worry that my house may have some sort of thermostatic valve or other crossover device hiding out of sight somewhere. Not sure how I could find such a thing. I'll try contacting the builder to try to get plumbing plans, but confidence is low.
  • The popular hardware stores seem to mostly carry 3/4" WH hookup supplies. My WH uses 1" connectors, so I wasn't able to do some of my planned "improvements" this weekend.
  • We do have a second faucet with a sprayer. This one is in the laundry area, right next to the water heater. It also happens to be the faucet with the worst cold-is-hot behavior. The sprayer on this faucet is separate from the main faucet. It has a button on the sprayer that causes water to be diverted from the main faucet to the sprayer. But I don't think it's the source of the hot-cold mixing, since I previously turned off the hot water input to this faucet and the problem persisted.

I had intended to try a check-valve "hack" that I read about elsewhere on the Internet: drill a small hole in the check valve's gate, so that a little bit of reverse flow is allowed to handle thermal expansion. My plan was to install such a valve on my cold inlet to the WH to see if this helped our problem. If it did help, I'd go ahead and hire a plumber to do things right with a proper expansion tank and non-compromised check valve. I bought and drilled a check valve, and tried to install it, but I couldn't get the flex hose connectors to stop leaking, nor did the local hardware stores have replacement flex hoses in the right size. So I ended up having to remove the check valve and go back to the prior check-less system.

Interestingly, after my plumbing shenanigans, my wife told me the problem seems better. I'm usually happy to take credit for random (good) events, but this time it seems suspicious. Time will tell if there's really any change in water behavior, but I certainly didn't actually "fix" anything. So at best the problem might be resting, waiting for me to lower my defenses.

-Seabeast
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Old 08-05-2013, 07:01 PM   #41
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Hot water from cold pipes, plumbers are stumped


I am glued to my seat. This is better than a Nancy Drew mystery. In theory the recirc pump should pull all the return water back into the heater. There has to be a breach somewhere.
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Old 08-05-2013, 07:08 PM   #42
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Has the OP tried turning off the pump?
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Old 08-05-2013, 07:13 PM   #43
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Has the OP tried turning off the pump?
see first post and one somewhere else in this mystery novel.....
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Old 08-05-2013, 07:13 PM   #44
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Has the OP tried turning off the pump?
Yup. That solves the problem. Thing is it worked fine before replacing the water heater.
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Old 08-05-2013, 10:15 PM   #45
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