A hot fix for water pressure problem

Culprit narrowed down to tank sediment

By Inman News Feed
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Sep. 24, 2010

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Culprit narrowed down to tank sediment

Paul Bianchina
Inman News

Q: (I have) no pressure when the hot water is turned on in the sinks. It doesn't matter if it is a one-lever operation or a faucet with two handles. This house is 12 years old, and it started when I had the vanities raised. Then, in the utility room, we replaced the faucet with a new one and, low and behold, the hot-water side has, once again, no pressure. What's with the hot-water side after minor work? --Sandy H.

A: Since the pressure is OK on the cold side, it sounds like you might have sediment in your water heater tank. In a 12-year-old house, I assume you have individual stops (shut-off valves) at each of the sinks. When the stops are shut off in order to replace the faucets and then turned back on again, I suspect some of the sediment from the water heater is lodging in the valves and partially blocking the flow.

I would suggest the following. First, flush the water heater to be sure that any sediment that's accumulated in it has been removed. Here are the basic steps:

Begin by shutting the power by switching off the circuit breaker (electric water heater) or shutting the valve controlling the gas supply (gas water heater). Next, shut the cold-water supply to the water heater, which is a valve located above or next to the heater.

Near the bottom of the water heater is a drain valve. Attach a garden hose to the valve, and route the other end to a safe location. Open the drain valve all the way, and let the water heater drain. You may find it necessary to open the pressure relief valve on the tank to encourage things to get started, which is sort of like punching a second hole in the top of a can to get it to drain.

When the tank is empty, turn on the cold-water supply valve. This will allow fresh cold water to run through the tank, stirring up and flushing out any remaining sediment. Unless you have a tremendous buildup of material in the tank, it shouldn't take more than about five or 10 minutes to completely flush it out.

When the water is clear, shut the drain valve and remove the hose. Leave the main cold-water supply valve open, and refill the tank. When the tank is full -- and only when it's full -- restore the power or turn on the gas and relight the pilot.

After that, close the main water shutoff valve that controls the water to the entire house. That will allow you to remove the hot-water stops on the affected sinks and replace them with new ones.

Finally, remove the screens on the end of the faucets themselves, turn the main water back on, turn the new stops back on, and then open the hot-water side of the faucets to flush them as well. Clean the faucet screens if needed, and reinstall them.

If all that doesn't solve the problem, then the cause lies somewhere deeper in the system. At that point I would suggest you have a plumber make a site visit to inspect and evaluate things.

Q: We're going to remodel the interior of our house -- and possibly the exterior if the financials allow at this time. I almost know what I like for the interior; however, "almost" is not enough considering the amount of money we'll be spending. We have to be sure of everything we do. I want my home to have today's look and yet not lose the originality. I need some good ideas on flooring, wall colors, fireplace renovation, windows, etc.

Right now we have approved plans to start work on raising the ceiling and enclosing the terrace in addition to our 2,516-square-foot home. We are not hiring a contractor but hiring subcontractors to do their work. I want to turn this home into a dream home. I see it in my mind, but I don't have it on paper to see it clearly. Is there anyone who can come out to my home and give me their professional opinion? --Jackie P.

A: I applaud you for taking the time to get your plans and design squared away before you start the actual work. There are too many people who try to do remodeling work in a piecemeal manner, only to find out what they did a month ago conflicts with what they want to do today.

It sounds like what you're envisioning is pretty extensive, and will require some structural alterations. In my opinion, you could benefit from the services of a qualified remodeling architect. He or she can discuss what is and isn't feasible from a structural standpoint, which is the very first thing you want to be concerned with.

After that, the architect can either help coordinate all of the design facets of the project, or refer you to a qualified designer.

It sounds as though you want to act as your own general contractor. If you have never done that before, especially on a large and extensive project such as what you have in mind, I would suggest you take a hard look at that decision, and consider a general contractor for at least the structural phases of the project.

Either way -- hiring a general contractor or acting as your own -- the architect can be a big help in coordinating the overall flow of the project. In my experience, the cost of an architect on a project such as what you propose is often money well spent.

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