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

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2011
    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

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    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?
     
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  4. mopsie

    mopsie New Member

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    Jul 25, 2011
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    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.
     
  5. hj

    hj Master Plumber

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    Occupation:
    Plumber
    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.
     
    MASTERPLUMB777 likes this.
  6. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

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    Rocket Scientist
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    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
     
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  7. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

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    Nov 29, 2010
    Location:
    Maine
    Stop paying the rent until they send a plumber out to fix the problem
     
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  8. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

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    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    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???
     
  9. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

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    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".
     
  10. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    Occupation:
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
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    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.
     
  11. mopsie

    mopsie New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2011
    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!!!
     
  12. kkeyyankees

    kkeyyankees New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2011
    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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  13. PiscesDragon212

    PiscesDragon212 New Member

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    Jun 6, 2019
    Location:
    New York City
    Hi, I know I'm a little late to the party but were you ever able to get your problem solved? I'm going through the same thing in my pre-war co-op apartment and so are others in the line and throughout the building. With me it takes 5-10 minutes for the water to get cold. Some people have suggested to me that maybe one of the temperature controls regulating my unit wasn't functioning properly, or the pipe is located in a heated area of the building. They say searching for the problem will cost thousands of dollars and might require going into people's walls.
     
  14. Sylvan

    Sylvan Still learning

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2004
    Occupation:
    plumbing - fire suppression - boiler inspector
    Location:
    New York
    I have the same on going problem in a 27 story co op in 10463 .

    After gaining access to the apartments using the riser causing the same problem (very common)

    The cause is someone hooked up the washing machine to a faucet Most of the time the kitchen and cause the problem

    If it is a bathroom riser the culprit is a normally a valve placed before the shower head and the morons use this as the shut off causing mixing of H and C line

    The majority of valves in buildings are Gerber 3 or 4 valve showers and once in awhile I find Delta single handle non anti scald types

    In a co op it is easy to gain access to the apartment because people do NOT own the apartment they do own stock in a corporation so access is usually in the bylaws

    This is one of my favorite times I am an expert witness as at the deposition I talk about how this cross connection allowed hot water which is dangerous to drink and can cause severe health problems and every time it is settled out of court with the co op going after the stock holder

    A few times these connections cause hydraulic shock waves that cause a nipple to bust coming off the riser
     
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  15. Sylvan

    Sylvan Still learning

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2004
    Occupation:
    plumbing - fire suppression - boiler inspector
    Location:
    New York

    10 story is easy try searching 27 stories or worse the Sovern which is 47 stories . I did work there in 1975 when it was first built and we had to find why one riser had mixed water. Mind boggling challenge but we did locate it thankfully in the basement not in the walls


    https://streeteasy.com/building/the-sovereign
     
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  16. PiscesDragon212

    PiscesDragon212 New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2019
    Location:
    New York City
    Thanks so much for your response, it's very helpful. In my building, they had plumbers look into my situation by looking under sinks of all the apartments who use the same riser and they said they found no issues. And I think it most likely is a building issue. You had said in one building where you worked, you located the problem in the basement. Do you remember what the problem was exactly? Was it hard or expensive to get fixed? I'd greatly appreciate any insight you can give because my building doesn't seem to want to investigate further and it's been a stressful situation.
     
  17. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

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    Occupation:
    Plumber
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    Most of the time for me it's been the shower head like Sylvan mentioned. Someone puts a shutoff on the arm and leaves the valves open but the shower head off. The water crosses through the shower valve.

    I'm not where I see many portable dishwashers, but I could see that happening too.
     
  18. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    img_1.png
    Idea: Let the sketch represent hot and cold risers servicing 8 floors. Suppose that the hours are chosen when no water is being used on that riser pair. (big supposition I know).

    Close valves in the basement. Open hot and cold faucets in the upper floor to admit air. Water drains from the hot line. Water in the hot line only drops as far as the crossover. The PSI represents the head of water remaining in hot riser. From that you calculate where the crossover is.

    My other idea is to check temperatures on the riser to determine if measuring point is above or below the crossover. Open one valve in basement. I have not worked out the technique. Since I suspect the riser pipes are not accessible for taking temperatures, this method may not be workable. In the above diagram, if you closed the cold shutoff valve and opened the drain spigot, the cold riser would feel hotter below the crossover than above the crossover.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2019
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  19. Sylvan

    Sylvan Still learning

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2004
    Occupation:
    plumbing - fire suppression - boiler inspector
    Location:
    New York
    The Problem was in the basement .

    The slop sink (service sink) has two separate hose bibs and someone used a Y hose

    http://applianceparts365.com/univer...7itoxLIqNsaaPCS9_FR-AarxMKVT4_JeXrxoCaQ3w_wcB

    They connected a garden hose to it for tempered water for washing the floors etc.

    The problem was they never shut the valves only the nozzle this took over a month to locate . Same thing with washing machines or shower head valves

    Very rare do we find a cross connection except back to bac bathroom installations where someone crossed the lines
     
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  20. Sylvan

    Sylvan Still learning

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2004
    Occupation:
    plumbing - fire suppression - boiler inspector
    Location:
    New York
    "In my building, they had plumbers look into my situation by looking under sinks of all the apartments who use the same riser and they said they found no issues"

    The plumbers are looking for drain connection to the tail piece which is too obvious so it is very seldom there.

    The inconsiderate people doing the connection know not to leave a visible connection but they know most people will not look at the end of a faucet spout

    All the illegal connections I have located there was no drainage connection, they had an adapter to the kitchen sink and used the sink for disposal

    https://www.plumbingsupplynow.com/1...n7cprjsXzjb5e4vSZL3hhHFhzs2jaQk3FXRoCYy3w_wcB



    Looking under the sink is normally a waste of time . Look at the faucet as portable washing machines do not discharge a lot of water

    By the way this hook up is illegal in NYC and can and does cause scalding

    https://www.instructables.com/id/Connecting-a-Washing-Machine-to-a-Kitchen-Sink/
     
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  21. OLD TIMER

    OLD TIMER Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2019
    Location:
    FLORIDA
    Look in mop sink closets for automatic soap dispensers hooked up to faucets on a y-hose and the faucet handles open.
     
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