Multiple problems with water heater(maybe)?

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stindows
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Multiple problems with water heater(maybe)?

Postby stindows » Tue Jan 29, 2019 7:53 am

Just moved into a 30-year-old house about 6 months ago. The water heater was installed in 1998. Today, my wife told me she thought the floor felt a little warmer than the rest of the floor right next to the water heater. She was concerned this may be a slab leak. I could not tell any difference and an infrared thermometer said it was the same temp. I was looking at the water heater and I noticed that the cold water intake was just as warm as the hot water pipe.

One other thing, the hot water pressure has always been really low since we moved in. If we try to run the bathtub and washing machine (with cold water only), the water coming out of the tap is just a trickle.

Cold water pressure is generally fine unless we run the sprinkler system.

I am wondering if there are some crossed pipes or something.

Any suggestions on where to start?
graduateduser
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Re: Multiple problems with water heater(maybe)?

Postby graduateduser » Tue Jan 29, 2019 7:56 am

There are heat traps that can be installed on the hot and cold piping to minimize convection currents that could heat the water, but conduction often wins, regardless of whether the tank has them installed. But, one symptom of a bad or corroded or particularly blocked one is low flow. But, you're talking about cold flow, which should have nothing to do with the WH.

On an older house, (this isn't all that old) some of the piping or at least a connection or two could be galvanized iron pipe. At 30-years, the inside of the pipe could be about the size of a pencil. Plus, if the water gets turned off, then on again, the inrush of the water might dislodge some rust or other crud and plug up aerators and any small orifice.

Most WH don't last that long, so it may be time to consider a replacement. Slab leaks can be a pain. Double check your water meter, see if it's moving when everything is turned off. You might check before you go to bed, then again in the morning before flushing the toilet or showering.
roomftrhaver
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Re: Multiple problems with water heater(maybe)?

Postby roomftrhaver » Tue Jan 29, 2019 7:56 am

You have more problems that we can diagnose over the Internet. IF the hot and cold pipes are the same temperature, then you do not have an underfloor slab leak. There are several different possibilities for the pressure problems, but we do not know enough about your house to tell which, if any, apply to you.
rockwellcreaky
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Re: Multiple problems with water heater(maybe)?

Postby rockwellcreaky » Tue Jan 29, 2019 7:57 am

stindows wrote:Just moved into a 30-year-old house about 6 months ago. The water heater was installed in 1998. Today, my wife told me she thought the floor felt a little warmer than the rest of the floor right next to the water heater. She was concerned this may be a slab leak. I could not tell any difference and an infrared thermometer said it was the same temp. I was looking at the water heater and I noticed that the cold water intake was just as warm as the hot water pipe.

One other thing, the hot water pressure has always been really low since we moved in. If we try to run the bathtub and washing machine (with cold water only), the water coming out of the tap is just a trickle. Cold water pressure is generally fine unless we run the sprinkler system. I am wondering if there are some crossed pipes or something.

Any suggestions on where to start?


Which water trickles, the hot, the cold, or both? What is the elevation difference between the washing machine and the tub? Upstairs/downstairs? I don't know if many water heaters come with heat traps in '98 but if yours has them, sediment could be preventing proper operation which could restrict flow.
stindows
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Re: Multiple problems with water heater(maybe)?

Postby stindows » Tue Jan 29, 2019 7:58 am

The house is one story so everything is at the same level. The washing machine is closest to the water heater followed by the sink and then the tub. The low pressure is only on the hot water side unless the sprinkler system is on, then everything is low.
graduateduser
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Re: Multiple problems with water heater(maybe)?

Postby graduateduser » Tue Jan 29, 2019 8:00 am

Install a local electric water heater for the kitchen, forget the recirculation loop.

Every time the loop runs you're abandoning nearly a gallon of hot water even if it's 1/2 inch pipe, about 1.5 gallons if 3/4 inch. Much hot water draws in a kitchen are taking less than a gallon, which would short-cycle the tankless at low efficiency too.

Is energy in the form of propane even cheaper than resistance electricity in your local market? In many markets in OR/WA condensing propane is pretty much at parity or more expensive than electricity, but they don't have the steeply tiered electricity rates common in parts of CA.

Is there a garage where a heat pump water heater would fit, eliminating the propane burner? Even if it's 80 feet from the bathrooms and needs a 3/4" recirculation loop, bathing draws are large in comparison to the loop volume. It might take an 80 gallon tank and a drain water heat recovery unit to serve three bathrooms (assuming no large spa tubs to fill), but at the operating cost of heat pump water heaters even tub-fills are likely to be cheaper (and definitely faster) than a condensing propane tankless, and with even a 4" x 48" drain water heat recovery unit showering costs would be even less (and the "apparent tank volume" even bigger.)
roomftrhaver
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Re: Multiple problems with water heater(maybe)?

Postby roomftrhaver » Tue Jan 29, 2019 8:00 am

In Sonoma County, propane is a little higher than national average. Garage is, unfortunately for hot water, almost 150 ft from the kitchen and 200 feet from the bathrooms. I thought about excavating a small "pit" for a heat pump water heater, and looked for 'lowboy' heat pumps but didn't come up with anything that would fit in a 48" tall space. There are no outdoor units, so that's out. Tankless seems to be the best option; most of the time, only one bedroom will be in use, so there won't be all that much usage even considering the (well insulated) hot tub.

A small (6-7 gallon?) electric resistance heater for the kitchen isn't a terrible option considering that I will have a 6-7kw solar array and have space for more in the future.
presserffg
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Re: Multiple problems with water heater(maybe)?

Postby presserffg » Wed Jan 30, 2019 10:25 am

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