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Old 11-13-2016, 02:32 AM   #1
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Balancing Hot and Cold Water for Washing Machine


This is a problem in an existing house. Water in the Washing Machine is COLD when set to cold, and hot when set to hot, but the warm setting is almost as cold as the cold setting. I have swapped the lines at the cloths washer and with them flipped, setting the washer to COLD give hot water, setting it to HOT gives cold water, and setting it to WARM gives it water almost as cold as if COLD was set.

I used a thermometer to verify these tests. This indicated to me that the cold water flow is higher than the hot water flow. This was confirmed by throttling the cold water with the quarter-turn ball valve on the COLD side.

At issue is this valve makes a loud noise when partly closed and water is running through it which is not present when the ball valve is fully opened. The Hot water is a 1/2 inch copper line that runs all over the place after leaving the hot water heater. The heater itself is fed by another 1/2 inch line. The cold water to the washer consists of about 6 feet (total) of 1/2 inch copper with a ball valve. This line is fed from a full 1 inch line which later feeds the refrigerator and two outside hose bibs with valves. A test with filling a drywall bucket shows that the cold water comes out about 3 times faster than the hot water.

I want to install a valve for throttling the cold water volume (or flow) that will not make so much noise. I don't know if a gate valve would be much quieter, and suspect the best valve would be a good old-fashioned washered shut-off valve. Since this would be used for throttling only, the existing ball valve would be kept to provide on-off or shutoff capabilities. The throttle valve could be opened or closed until the correct temperature for WARM was met -- then the round handle could be removed and the shaft packing closed to make it a little tighter, and to make it hard to adjust. Logically a tag could also be added which explained why this valve was installed. Without being opened and closed all the time -- or even just occasionally -- it should
last forever, and never require a washer replacement.

Others have suggested using a large hydraulic needle valve or a special flow limiting device, one on each leg. However, I do not see the need to spend a lot of money to simply get a warmish water temperature when selected.

Would the washered shut-off valve the best (and quietest) way to go in this application?
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Old 11-13-2016, 06:07 AM   #2
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Re: Balancing Hot and Cold Water for Washing Machine


Yes, a washered valve ( AKA a Globe Valve ) is usually recommended for throttling over a Gate or Ball valve.
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Old 11-13-2016, 06:58 AM   #3
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Re: Balancing Hot and Cold Water for Washing Machine


You might shop around in the garden department for an inexpensive valve. They make a ready to screw on and use "twofer" valve to control two garden hoses from one hose bibb. You would close one half and adjust the other half for the desired flow to the washing machine.(I have also seen an in-line "onefer" valve.)

There is one drawback to any throttling. Most washing machines have a spray rinse between the wash and rinse cycles and throttling the cold water will impair the operation of this subcycle and maybe leave noticeable soap residue in the clothes.

I have resorted to just spending time watching the machine fill partially using the warm setting (with no throttling) and then manually setting the temperature to hot. You can also repeat the spray rinse subcycle but that would require an equal amount of manual intervention.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 11-13-2016 at 07:03 AM.
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Old 11-13-2016, 12:15 PM   #4
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Re: Balancing Hot and Cold Water for Washing Machine


Have you cleaned the inlet screen on your hot water connection to the washer?
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Old 11-13-2016, 08:25 PM   #5
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Re: Balancing Hot and Cold Water for Washing Machine


I have had the same problem with the washing machines that came with the last two homes we had. We used to throttle with the cold shutoff gate valve, but finally just said screw it and wash everything in cold water. I often thought there should be some kind of internal calibration or balance adjustment in the machine.
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Old 11-14-2016, 05:54 AM   #6
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Re: Balancing Hot and Cold Water for Washing Machine


May be able to adjust with different inlet diameter hoses. Hoses found at homedepot may say 1/2" inside diameter hose but get restricted at the metal tube or screw nut. They are usually 1/4". Look for larger diameter at these parts and use it for hot. If not homedepot you may have to search the pro store. Amazon search was difficult since nobody makes this difference. I used it for cold and get tepid with mixed at the dial.
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Old 11-14-2016, 07:02 AM   #7
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Re: Balancing Hot and Cold Water for Washing Machine


i would firstly check you water heater connections, mine were full of rust between the galvanized pipe and copper connection, hole was less than 1/4" diameter !
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Old 11-18-2016, 07:37 AM   #8
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Re: Balancing Hot and Cold Water for Washing Machine


Thank you all for your replies! They confirm what I suspected and opened my eyes to some new potential issues.

SeniorSitizen -- Thanks for bringing up the correct (or common) name for this valve. For some reason, I could not remember "Globe Valve", I guess it has been so long since I put one in.

AllanJ -- This is a cleaver solution. I had a couple of the twofur valves in my gardening stuff, and it worked good. Only thing I did differently was install a cap on the unused side -- just in case it leaked or somebody decided to fiddle with the adjustment. "Know it all" in-laws will twist anything they see that can be adjusted.

I had not thought about the spray part of the cycle, and can see how it could be affected if the cold is set too slow. With the volume throttled down, it still works but I guess we need to keep an eye on things to see if we have any "soap" buildup. One thing this washer has is a second rinse cycle -- most modern washers have gone to a single rinse to save water.

GhostMaker -- Yes, I did check the screens for residue. This was a problem the last place we lived, but more on the Hot water side than the cold. In any event, your point should is appropriate since I have seen washers with dirty screens that have fill times of 15 minutes or more! I have also seen people take the screens out -- an expensive temporary fix. With the screens out, the dirt in the water can lodge in the solenoid valve which sometimes can be cleaned but might need to be replaced. Screens should always be cleaned after work is done on the plumbing, and also if changes in fill times are noted.

Lenaitch -- Cold water washing is a good idea if you can get away with it. Procter and Gamble actually is formulating their products to work best with cold water (I have been told). However, there is a sickly person living here and the HOT cycle gives some additional level of sanitation. Bleach is an effective sanitizer, but can of course fade materials more than only Hot water.

Carpdad -- I had thought about using different diameter hoses, but wondered if you could get enough throttling in my situation. As stated earlier, the cold water comes out at about 3 times the rate of the hot water. Still, I like the idea and this would be more "fiddle proof" than a valve.

Carmusic -- I don't have galvanized pipes in the house, and water is feed from the city in plastic. However, I think the internal pipes in the water heater are galvanized, and that is why there are di-electric joints on the inlet and outlet fittings. I did check these and there was some corrosion -- enough to do some throttling. A plumber I used to know always used about a foot of brass pipe in place of di-electric joints and swore they worked better. He sometimes had to fight with code enforcement over this. Your suggestion has increased flow on the hot to where it is now about 2.5 cold to 1 hot instead of 3 to 1.

Again thanks for the ideas. It shows a lot of different things that might help. I still think the main issue is the fact that the cold is basically feed from a 1 inch line (with only a few feet of 1/2 inch pipe right at the washer while the hot runs through maybe 40 to 60 feet of 1/2 inch pipe.

A neighbor has come up with another suggestion -- raise the hot water temperature. This was lowered because of the invalid to keep them from hurting themselves as easy, so the water temperature was set to the lowest point where the dishwasher would work. In addition, the hot water going to the kitchen sink and from the bathroom has a mixing valve on it to temper the maximum hot water temperature where the invalid might contact it, so the hot water heater could be turned up -- but then there is the issues of increased energy to heat the water to a higher temperature and keep it at that temperature. While this method might help, I think I will try the throttle method first, and keep the hot water heater as cool as possible.

Last edited by Perry401; 11-18-2016 at 07:43 AM. Reason: correction of spelling errors & typos
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