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glamgirrl 08-24-2010 12:26 PM

Hot water pressure problem
I have an older home (1940's) that I bought last year. The water pressure seemed OK when I bought it, but after I moved in I realized the hot water pressure is lacking. In the kitchen I get good cold pressure and bad hot the bathroom sink it's the same, but the main problem is in the tub- there's barely any hot or cold. It's got one of those single handle tub faucets, and it doesn't seem to matter where the lever is, the pressure is terrible! :( And that tubspout handle was installed last year, so it's not old.

I've tried CLR on the showerhead, as there is alot of minerals in the water- calcium mostly I think. Didn't do a thing! BTW-I'm on town water, not well water.
Since the pressure is bad everywhere, do you think it could be something closer to the hot water tank? I don't know what to do, and I can't afford a plumber right now.
Please give me some idea of how to fix this?

Mike Swearingen 08-24-2010 12:39 PM

I am afraid that your 1940's home probably still has the original, now-obsolete galvanized water supply pipes, which are notorious for scaling up inside until eventually clogging up completely. They are gray steel pipes that may be a bit rusty here and there.
They usually clog up first closest to the fixture shut-off valves at the ends of the pipe run.
The only solution is replacement. I recommend PEX. You might try to do it piecemeal at the worst first and go from there.
If the house has been replumbed, check for a faulty pressure reducing valve on the main town line feeding the house.
Good luck!

glamgirrl 08-24-2010 12:42 PM

Nope- pipes are copper
Thanks Mike,
I should have mentioned that...the pipes ARE copper. And there's alot of them snaking around the basement, although the bathroom ones are quite close to the water heater.

Mike Swearingen 08-24-2010 12:53 PM

OK, good.
Then the first thing to check is the cold water supply valve (if you have one) on the cold water supply line at the water heater.
Make sure that it is open all of the way and is functioning properly. Cold water pressure into the heater tank should roughly equal hot water pressure out.

Yoyizit 08-24-2010 01:04 PM

I've seen a gauge pair for troubleshooting this type of common problem, for $30 or so. It's a pressure meter going to up to 160 PSI and a flowmeter going up to 13 GPM. Don't remember who makes it.

The pressure drop through a water heater should be equal to that of one or two 90 degree half-inch elbows, I'd think.

Of course, the GPM in must equal the GPM out.

It could just be some particle lodged somewhere in the system. Pieces of a washer, pieces of a dip tube, dirt, etc. . .

AllanJ 08-24-2010 06:02 PM

If all the faucets in the house have poor pressure, at least you know where to start troubleshooting the problem, in common sections of pipe such as close to the water heater.

Copper pipes are not immune from arteriosclerosis.

While you are at it, you might as well go through the motions of draining sediment from the water heater. With the main water still turned on and all the upstairs faucets closed, if you get a good flow out of the water heater drain valve, chances are (i.e. not foolproof) any constriction in flow is not in the cold line before the water heater. If the water heater drain flow is slow, allow time for sediment to come out before drawing any conclusions.

glamgirrl 09-21-2010 10:43 AM

Update- It's fixed!
So I finally got fed up & called a plumber...I knew it was likely the output pipe from the hot water tank, but I'm not comfortable messing with that.
So the guy shows up, and sure enough, the hot outflow pipe was just about completely clogged with mineral buildup- he was surprised I was getting ANY hot water..(and I wasn't getting much!)

So it's all cleared out, and now I have what seems like fabulous (but is probably average) hot water pressure. Well worth the $125 it's going to cost me...finally a good shower!!!

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