Need help in apartment building -- warm water from cold tap -Tenant illegal washer?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by mopsie, Jul 25, 2011.

  1. mopsie

    mopsie New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    New York NY
    Hi - I am new to this site, and am hoping for help. 3 months ago we moved into an apartment house (bought a Co-op) that was built in the 1960s and I don't know to what extent any pipes were replaced since then.
    From the start we noticed that 80% of the time, we could not get cold water from the kitchen cold tap, only very warm. We get normal jot water from the hot. We get normal cold and hot in the bathroom. I spoke with 2 other residents in the same apartment "line" above and below me by several floors, and they have the same problem.When I told the Superintendent, he did not seem surprised, and said there must be a resident with an "illegal" washing machine in their unit. Also said there's little he can do since he's not allowed to investigate by searching apartments. I am getting annoyed with having to go to the bathroom sink --- my husband jokes that I'm going to the "pump" --- numerous times a day to fill my coffee pot, my water filter pitcher, ice cube trays, wash veggies, etc.. Any ideas as to whether the Super's assumption sounds right? Whether there could be another plumbing reason for my problem (same above and below me) that could be solved? Also, Super said that warm water does not mean the washer causes unclean or unsafe water, so I do use it to start cooking, steaming food....but I am now questioning....Does this sound safe? Thank you very much.
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,132
    Location:
    New England
    They don't recommend using the hot water for food prep since hot water can disolve more stuff in the pipes. Don't know how big of an issue that really is.

    There are some shower/tub valves that create a cross-over when they get worn. Do you for chance have Symmons valves in your bathroom?
  3. mopsie

    mopsie New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    New York NY
    Jim, I don't know about the Symmons valves but i can ask.
    As for your thought about hot water for food prep, until now I had assumed that's only an issue if the hot water comes out of a hot water pipe....but now that you mention this, I wonder if ongoing very warm water in the cold water pipes can begin to dissolve "stuff" lso, over time, and the cold water pipes become as bad to use as the hot water pipes.
  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,815
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    A "washer" meaning a clothes washer CANNOT cause a hot to cold crossover, UNLESS it is connected the both the hot and cold pipes with a "Y" hose connection.
  5. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,312
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Welcome to Terry's Forums mopsie.

    It sound like your Superintendent needs to go back to school and learn how the fill valve on a washing machine really works.


    Good Luck on your project.


    DonL
  6. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,225
    Location:
    Maine
    Stop paying the rent until they send a plumber out to fix the problem
  7. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Since they very possibly have a recirculation pump, that increases the possiblity of a hot to cold cross from:
    >Valley shower valve
    >a shower valve that is left 'on' , with a turn-off button at the shower head
    > a kitchen sink left on at 'warm' with a single hose running to a simple bootleg washing machine
    > other possibilities???
  8. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,358
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    As far as being unsafe, I see no way the water would be contaminated. I think a New York building superintendent is what the rest of the world calls "handyman".
  9. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,132
    Location:
    New England
    It is likely they apt building has a hot water recirculation system. If a check valve is stuck, that could make things worse.

    Re hot water, it tends to react and disolve things that cold water doesn't. The pipes should be clean, but anything in there and running hot through them, it could be a little funky.
  10. mopsie

    mopsie New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    New York NY
    Thanks, Everyone

    Thank you, all for your knowledgable information. I will follow up on your ideas with the Superintendent....who, yes, was a "Handyman" here before he was promoted last year. The building is very large, with 440 apartments. One of you gave a list of possibilities, and one of those was what the Super said....."If they leave the washer on, this happens"....I assume he meant leaving the hose connected to the warm after even after the wash was done> So if this is the reason, I should stop looking for another reason and deal with the fact that a whole batch of us are inconvenienced because of one person's "illegal" washer....and this is an issue of getting Management to do something abut the person causing this...not try to figure out a plumbing problem. I very much appreciate the help from this group!!!
  11. kkeyyankees

    kkeyyankees New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    NYC
    Washing Machine

    Dont know who said it could be a washing machine but it can and it could be some other issues

    Illegal Washing machine that connects to kitchen faucet which will cross the hot and cold lines is possible- Your Super is Right. It could also be a check valve (either missing or broken)if washer machines are installed in the building on the riser.

    Single handle faucets- Very common to cross water lines. Moen is worst for this.

    Single Handle Shower

    Talk to your super and ask iF those riser lines only supply the kitchens which will help eliminate some culprits. Depending on building your risers could feed different things in each apartment. here is an example:

    10 story building
    your kitchen riser is attached to valve #22 hot and #23 cold which feeds the following
    1st - 5th floor Kitchens
    6 thru 10 Bathrooms


    Been a super for 15 years in NYC.
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