Vacant three months now terrible flow to second floor.

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by CanOfWorms, Mar 16, 2013.

  1. CanOfWorms

    CanOfWorms Member

    Messages:
    174
    Location:
    New Jersey
    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. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,248
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    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. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,989
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Test, don't guess. Put a pressure gauge on it and see what you have. Factor .43 PSI per foot for static loss.
  4. CanOfWorms

    CanOfWorms Member

    Messages:
    174
    Location:
    New Jersey
    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]
  5. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,248
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    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. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,989
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    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. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,350
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    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. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,019
    Location:
    New England
    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.
  9. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,989
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Assuming there is not a pressure balance spool gone awry. If sediment gummed it up, all bets are off.
  10. CanOfWorms

    CanOfWorms Member

    Messages:
    174
    Location:
    New Jersey
    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.
    pipe run.png
  11. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,019
    Location:
    New England
    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.
  12. CanOfWorms

    CanOfWorms Member

    Messages:
    174
    Location:
    New Jersey
    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. CanOfWorms

    CanOfWorms Member

    Messages:
    174
    Location:
    New Jersey
    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.
    faucet.jpg
  14. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,248
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    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. CanOfWorms

    CanOfWorms Member

    Messages:
    174
    Location:
    New Jersey
    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: Mar 19, 2013
  16. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,019
    Location:
    New England
    Both of those tend to have lifetime warranties on the cartridge, if you call them, they may send you new ones. Some of the faucets and things like shower valves have inlet filter screens either inside, or in the case of the vanity faucet maybe part of the supply hose...so, take the hot water hose off the vanity and see if it flow well and if you can flush anything out. While it will make a mess, with the cartridge out, you can turn the water back on with something over the opening to direct (as much as you can!) back into the sink (or shower). Long term, you should budget for a repipe, as galvanized piping only gets worse, never better. Rust clogging up things is the first step...eventually, enough rusts away that you end up with holes, which is much worse than low flow!
  17. CanOfWorms

    CanOfWorms Member

    Messages:
    174
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Damn straight on the repipe, but I will try and coordinate that with the next time the tenant moves out.
    I don't have time ti get a new cartridge in the mail.
    I have a female tenant who wants to take a shower!
    I hate it under the sink, but thats where I need to go.
    I guess I just need to pull the shower catridge and see whats what.
    would it be a bad idea to so the cartridge in vinegar or CLR for sediment removal?
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