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Thread: Vacant three months now terrible flow to second floor.

  1. #1
    DIY Senior Member CanOfWorms's Avatar
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    Default Vacant three months now terrible flow to second floor.

    This house is very old. It is a two family. I used to live upstairs, but moved downstairs.
    We had decent enough flow, but now the tenant is complaining that is is terrible. I have seen it and it is terrible.
    The hot water to the shower is almost a trickle.
    There are copper pipes coming off the hot water heater, but when the turn to go upstairs they become iron pipes. There is a line downstairs and that gets good flow.

    Would three months of minimal use cause a blockage?

    Is there anything you suggest trying before I go replacing all the lines?

    The kitchen sink has low flow. Before I replace those lines I will remove the valves and try flushing the lines incase there is some sediment there.
    The shower I am going to remove the head and see if there is sediment there, but I just put the head on.

  2. #2
    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    I would start by removing and cleaning any aerators on the faucets.

    Is the shower valve a single-handle unit, or does it have separate hot and cold valves?

  3. #3
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Test, don't guess. Put a pressure gauge on it and see what you have. Factor .43 PSI per foot for static loss.

  4. #4
    DIY Senior Member CanOfWorms's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cacher_chick View Post
    I would start by removing and cleaning any aerators on the faucets.

    Is the shower valve a single-handle unit, or does it have separate hot and cold valves?
    I tried the aerators already.

    I appreciate the advice to check the pressure, it is clearly worse than it was 3 months ago when I lived there.
    Doing that test will help me.
    The kitchen flow used to work as it should. Now the flow is low and unacceptable.
    The shower worked well enough for the last 5 years I used it, but it is now entirely unacceptable.

    The shower is a delta. This may not be the actual model, but this is the basic idea:
    [IMG]http://www.*******************/images/delta601.png[/IMG]

  5. #5
    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    A static pressure test would be of little value here. It would be a bit helpful to know what the pressure is coming into the house so that what would have an idea of what to expect at other locations in the house.

    Think about how the piping system works. If you have good flow to the lavatory and bad flow to the shower, this should tell you something. If you have poor flow to all of the upstairs plumbing, this should tell you something else.

  6. #6
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cacher_chick View Post
    A static pressure test would be of little value here...
    It's all relative. If you have bad pressure to start with, it can only get worse. The elevation between floors will exacerbate it as will flow constrictions. But hey... go ahead and replace all the lines...

  7. #7
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    You noted that some of your pipes are "iron". Most likely galvanized steels, but regardless, this could be at least part of your problem. Galvanized pipes corrode on the inside cutting the actually diameter down to the size of a drinking straw. This would not affect pressure, but could cut the flow down to a trickle.

  8. #8
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Since a tub spout is generally unrestricted, take a bucket and a watch, and see how many gallons you get out of it in say 1-minute. The hot galvanized piping may rust out sooner than the cold line. If you don't get at least say 5-gallons/min, it may be time to repipe. This test won't work on something like a vanity, since the faucet is already restricted, which is why I suggested the tub. If there isn't a tub, remove the showerhead, and measure there. For a showerhead to work well, you need to supply it with more water than it can pass. Federal regs restrict new showerheads to be 2.5gmp max and there are a lot of them that won't pass that. For a decent shower, it has to be able to supply at least that, and more is better so it then tries to speed up through the sprayhead just like putting your finger over the end of a hose.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  9. #9
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua View Post
    Since a tub spout is generally unrestricted...
    Assuming there is not a pressure balance spool gone awry. If sediment gummed it up, all bets are off.

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    DIY Senior Member CanOfWorms's Avatar
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    I have poor flow to all upstairs plumbing. Some worse than others, but over all poor.
    I have great flow to the washer in the closet, but that is brand new copper pipe run right off the hot water heater.
    I'm sure someone is going to tell me to pressure test.
    I have done that in the comparative flow difference between the hot water heater with new copper pipe and all the other fixtures with Iron pipe. The
    I don't have time to redo the lines as that would involve removing tile walls and pulling cabinets with a granite counter.
    I can't afford a plumber.
    I need to fix the shower asap. I have a new tenant and they could easily and legally decide to not pay me rent until the shower works. I wouldn't like it, but I really wouldn't blame them.
    I can afford to take wednesday or thursday off and run a line from that washer hot water feed to the shower.
    My plan is to run the line completely before I disconnect anything. I want to do PEX with quick connects to save time and risk of poor sweat job.
    Here is sketch.
    Here is a sketch of the set up.
    Name:  pipe run.png
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  11. #11
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Suggest you get some 90-degree bends for the pex (this is a metal sleeve - I may have the name wrong - that goes around the tubing to help hold it into the smallest radius bend without kinking) instead of using fittings when entering and exiting the attic. Also, the pex run needs to be underneath the insulation and right on top of the ceiling or you are at severe risk of it freezing in NJ winters. Not having fittings up there is a big deal, too, as while the pex should survive a freeze cycle, the fittings may not. If you don't use the bending bracket, the tendency of pex to return to it's normal shape (fairly straight) is likely to push it up, and out of the insulation. Also, 1/2" pex has a smaller ID than 1/2" copper, but should be fine for one showerhead. It will be a little slower to fill the tub than 1/2" copper would be as that's unrestricted, but a showerhead is much less than 1/2" pex should be able to provide.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    DIY Senior Member CanOfWorms's Avatar
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    Awesome advice on the metal sleeves. I don't have to worry about freezing, because the attic is finished and in use, but the sleeves both save me money and time and reduce the risk of me screwing up the 90 degree elbows.

  13. #13
    DIY Senior Member CanOfWorms's Avatar
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    Default Oh boy oh boy oh Boy!! in the kitchen it was sediment!!

    I first checked the screen and it was clean, but then today I checked the secondary screen where the pull out hose connects to the pull out nozzle and it was full of little rust sediment.

    This is definately something I need to explore before I go running new lines to everything.

    So, where do I check for the shower fixture? I already checked the head and it was clean. Hot sater very low flow, cold is good.

    Do I just pull the cartridge and clean it out and flush the pipes? Do I need to buy new stuff? Do I need any special tools like one of those O-ring tools?
    Should I just replace the cartridge?

    I am so fricking excited to not have to run new lines?

    The bathroom sink is low flow on the hot water too. It is a price pfister.
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  14. #14
    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    You can pull the cartridge out and let the water flush out the valve body. If I were going to go through the trouble, I would have a new cartridge ready to go in.

  15. #15
    DIY Senior Member CanOfWorms's Avatar
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    While I'm in there I should just replace the cartridges. Same amount of time and then I won't have to change them again for another 10 years. Hopefully.
    The faucet is a depot cheapo price pfister.


    Will the plumbing supply house cartridge be a better quality than the depot one?
    Last edited by CanOfWorms; 03-19-2013 at 06:04 PM.

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