Replaced System, bo pressure

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Kimothegob

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Good morning, I’ve been reading and trying to find info as I resolve the issues I am currently having:

The backstory:
I own an old house with a fieldstone foundation. We have had multiple issues with lines freezing when the winter really strikes. The last couple weeks, and foreseeable future is calling for lows below 0F.

When I left for the Christmas holiday, I came back to a very cold house and found that we had some freezing in our water lines which led to a failure on our tankless water heater. As this was on the list to replace with electric, I opted to move ahead with that project at the same time. To combat the freezing cellar which houses all the water entering the house (on well, 1.5hp pump, 20gpm pressure. Well line run is appx 150’, buried under 5’ of dirt and insulated in man sand and blue board). I poured a small slab in the cellar, built 4 walls and insulated everything off. With a heat lamp the room will get to 40-50 on the coldest nights. As there was a lot of ice through the system, I opted to just run a new supply line to the bathroom and kitchen. I unhooked every line in the house from the pressure tank and started new.

I installed a 3/4” pex supply line that feeds to the bathroom kitchen… the run is about 70-80’ total. Max rise from the pt is 7’ to bathroom fixtures and about 17’ to kitchen (kitchen is in an apartment on second floor). There are 3 sharper bent 90 turns on the supply line without fittings. None of these turns are kinked in any way.

Once everything was hooked back up, I charged the system and had no pressure. I thought I had a kink, so I checked all the pipe and everything is good. The supply line is wrapped in foam insulation, and stuffed into 2” pvc to keep it straight and a little more clean than pex. Plus I figured the extra layer wouldn’t hurt. After a while the pressure picked up a bit, but never came to what it should be (24 hours with the furthest tap open)

When I checked for kinks I disconnected the new line, and charged the system while my wife watched a bucket with the line. We had great pressure right to where the water went up through the floor. We had a few pieces of ice that came out, so thought that was our issue. I did hear some ice in the pressure tank when I hooked everything back up, so I thought maybe it just pushed it’s was out the tank and up there, but the system runs through filters and I don’t see how they’d possible.
I have the end of the terminated 3/4 supply upstairs, so I added a valve with open line on the other end. I closed all my valves and charged the system yesterday. Every tap has extremely minimal pressure. snow melts off my roof faster when it’s 25 and sunny than any of the taps that are on 1/2” branch circuits from the water line. If I open the 3/4 valve upstairs. I can fill a 5 gallon bucket in 20 seconds. If I open the bathtub tap on the same line…. I can fill that bucked in about 40 minutes.

I keep wanting to blame ice for the pressure loss, but the 3/4 line pouring gallons per minute makes me guess otherwise. Any thoughts on what could cause the Taps to be so low pressure. The kitchen cold water will start to gain pressure over time of being open (2 hours fully open I finally got 3/4 of the anticipated pressure, but the hot water from a branch in the same circuit drips when fully open. When I close the kitchen tap for 3 minutes, I’m back to waiting an hour or two for my pressure to return. The bathtub on hot or cold only drip when open, and the washing machine only gets a drop of water when I try it.

I am running out of ideas. I think any ice would have melted with taps open for so long.

1. Do you think my supply line is undersized? There are a total of 5 branches off the 3/4 into 1/2”. Those branches are: cold kitchen sink, toilet, cold bathtub, cold washer, hot water heater. Hot water heater goes to 1 sink, 1 tub, 1 washer.
When this was on the old setup it worked great. The old setup was 1” line that split to 3/4 supply got hot heater and 3/4 supply to all the fittings. I replaced 10’ of 1” with 3/4 and removed the water heater in the cellar on the new system.

2. Could this be ice and it is just too cold to thaw out the line properly? It’s obviously not restricting until it gets to the branches as I have the valve that just pours water.

3. Is it possible that some debris got into the pipe and it’s jamming the line or fitting? What would be the best way to diagnose and repair that?

Thanks in advance.
 

Fitter30

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Your main line from the well pump what size is it and the material. What is the water pressure coming into the house? Heres a frost line chart don't think your line is deep enough.
 

Kimothegob

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So part of the problem trenching the line was the presence of ledge around 5’. That’s why we lined with blue board (double on traffic areas so it prevents the frost from pushing down). I was always taught that 1” blue board is as effective as 12” of dirt. We have 1 inch poly from well to pressure tank, and a large pressure tank (40 gallon or so). I have not had any water freezing on the supply side except at the very entrance to the tank where it was exposed to the elements. This has been corrected and insulated, and I don’t foresee an issue. The pressure switch is a 40/60 psi cycle. If I open the bottom valve on the tank I could spray water across town because the flow is so high. Same with opening the 3/4 valve at the end of my line, which is what makes me look to the branches.
 

Kimothegob

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Thanks! I looked at these before when I I thought I had a kink…. While I have one corner that is on very close to the 8” tolerance on one corner, I still have great flow through the open valve at the end of the supply line. The issues really is only appearing on the branches. None of those have any major bends. And a handful have an elbow or two. It’s just weird. It is so restricted past any of the T branches, but not beyond them. I just drained the lines on the whole system by closing the PT valve and I have a drain valve that I can open right next to it to purge the lines empty. Pulled out a few gallons of water. About what I would expect based on the volume in 100’ charts. I’m recharging everything and trying again.
Another thing I was thinking of. I feel like I had a lot of water hammer action before I replaced the supply line. Now it happens randomly at the reduced flow.
 

Kimothegob

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That did nothing and I’m purging everything at the pressure tank now (again) as a sanity thing. I am really wondering if scooped something up while working under the house with dirt floors, then lodged it up into a fitting. It makes no sense that I ran the taps for 24 hours and saw a marginal increase in pressure. My next step is to remove each ending fitting and check them and flush. Hopefully not every fitting on the branches.

Ps the whole system is accessible and exposed.

Purging did nothing so I am stuck thinking their is something wedged in there. I took off the aerator at the kitchen sink and found a little sand in there so….
 
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Kimothegob

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The water heater is tankless on demand, so it is in the bathroom, feeding from that 3/4 line. There are two branches before it. Cold water for kitchen, and toilet. There is also the 3/4 valve. Both toilet and kitchen sink run slow. 3/4 passes water unrestricted.
If I turn on the hot water I get a similar issue, I see fluctuations in pressure. But it never gives me good pressure.

Here is a drawing of how the pipes connect. Pencil is 1/2” and pen is 3/4”
image.jpg
 
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Fitter30

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Filter after the pressure switch? Filter even clean could have 6- 10 lb pressure drop. What brand and model of water heater and it's piped with 1/2" ? Heater also has a high pressure drop compared to a tank style.
 

Kimothegob

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Filter is after pressure tank. Water heater is a rheem 13kw (retex13). Admitadly it’s undersized, going to ultimately use it in another section of house and update this loop to a 18kw. (Near future renovation plans will work well with 18)

Before I swapped the line I had the heater hooked up and it all worked well. It really sounds like there is something restricting flow in the pipe somewhere. I took a break for dinner and am going to replace the branch tee fittings and see if anything is in there.
 
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