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  1. #1
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    Default Low household hot water pressure

    I live in the Northeast and have an oil fired boiler with a tankless coil. I periodically pump vinegar through the coil for a few hours to get rid of the sediment. A couple years ago, the vinegar through the coil trick didnt work, so I cut into the copper pipe near the boiler. It was filled with sediment. I replaced the copper pipe (I like plumbing). Now the hot water pressure is low again and the vinegar through the coil didnt work. Looks like I am going to tear into the pipe and replace. Not a problem, my question is.. is it likely that the sediment filled pipe is near the boiler? I dont mind doing it, but I dont want to make cuts all over the place. It would be helpful if the clog was near the boiler like it was last time.. Thanks in advance for your help.. Pete

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Low household hot water pressure

    Hard to tell from thousands of miles away. When you cut in to the supply pipe, you could maybe go to a larger diameter pipe.

    You might talk to some local plumbers about this issue. Surely there are better solutions, such as filtering and water softeners.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Low household hot water pressure

    Thanks for replying John. The copper pipe coming out of the coil is 1/2", and the last time this happened I increased the size to 3/4" pipe. I have a water softener and a whole house filter. I am going to remove copper pipe in the same general area. Hopefully the clog is in the same place. I think that I read that for some reason sediment is more likely near the furnace. I will take your advice and talk to some local plumbers.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Low household hot water pressure

    If it is "sediment", which typically means 'loose debris' (versus mineral deposit buildup), and if the sediment is in the same approximate place as before, it may be beneficial to install a 'trap' (a recessed "U" section) and put a tee fitting in the bottom of the trap with a threaded tap at the tee to serve as a removable cleanout fitting, or maybe connect the trap into the line with two unions to allow you to easily remove the trap for cleaning it out, and to allow replacing the trap when done.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Low household hot water pressure

    Jerry - Brilliant! What a great idea. Thank you. If I made an "elbow" using copper pipe and fittings and at the bottom of the elbow I put a drain valve. I could periodically drain the sediment. What do think about this?


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Low household hot water pressure

    Quote Originally Posted by petekahn View Post
    If I made an "elbow" using copper pipe and fittings and at the bottom of the elbow I put a drain valve. I could periodically drain the sediment. What do think about this?
    If it is truly sediment, that might clog the valve, but would be worth a try.

    Another way would be to use a tee at each bottom corner of the "U", with the tee connection up - that would allow you to use plugs in the two outward tee connections (typically, a tee is installed for through flow, with a tee off, in this case, the tee would be installed as an elbow with a drain outlet off the side).

    That way, you could remove both plugs and 'blow through' the horizontal bottom of the "U", cleaning out anything which accumulated there.

    You could also put a tee in the middle of the bottom of the "U" for a drain valve, and when/if it didn't work, then remove the two end plugs to blow out whatever was there - that would give you a simple 'drain valve' option until it didn't work, then a simple 'two plug' drain option as a backup.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Low household hot water pressure

    You need to get a better filter. I would install a two filter system. 1 large particulate and other fine particulate filter.

    Do you have sediment at the bottom of your toilet tank? If so describe.

    If the vinegar (acetic acid) has been clearing your clog it may (probably) is calcium that you are clearing.

    Your water treatment system is not working as it should.

    Last edited by Garry Sorrells; 11-24-2017 at 10:02 AM.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Low household hot water pressure

    Thanks Gary, I checked the toilet tank and there was no sediment. But, this is only effecting the hot water. When this happened before there was so much sediment in the hot water side, that it only trickled. There was only sediment in the 1st ten feet of horizontal pipe from the oil burner. And it wasnt loose debris.. It was tan colored and hard as rock. I am going to rip it down next week, then the kids go back to school and I will post photos. And you are right.. It would be a good idea to get a double water filter, because my single house filter and the water softener arent preventing this. Thank you

    - - - Updated - - -

    Thanks Gary, I checked the toilet tank and there was no sediment. But, this is only effecting the hot water. When this happened before there was so much sediment in the hot water side, that it only trickled. There was only sediment in the 1st ten feet of horizontal pipe from the oil burner. And it wasnt loose debris.. It was tan colored and hard as rock. I am going to rip it down next week, then the kids go back to school and I will post photos. And you are right.. It would be a good idea to get a double water filter, because my single house filter and the water softener arent preventing this. Thank you


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Low household hot water pressure

    Quote Originally Posted by petekahn View Post
    There was only sediment in the 1st ten feet of horizontal pipe from the oil burner. And it wasnt loose debris.. It was tan colored and hard as rock.
    Mineral deposit buildup - that will not flush out of a trap as previously described.

    Mineral deposit buildup is typically from hard water - you likely need a water softener, or replace the water softener you already have as it may not be working as intended - others here can address water softeners as that is not something I know much about.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Low household hot water pressure

    I agree, sounds like mineral deposit and if so, can I drain the hot water pipes. Cut in to the water pipe pour something like CLR into the pipe and let it sit for a few hours in the area near where I think the clog is? thank you again.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Low household hot water pressure

    Pete, Just for clarity, what you describe as low pressure is actually low/reduced volume.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Low household hot water pressure

    Gary, You are absolutely correct. Love volume. Thank you. I will post some photos this week when I cut into the pipe.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Low household hot water pressure

    Quote Originally Posted by petekahn View Post
    I agree, sounds like mineral deposit and if so, can I drain the hot water pipes. Cut in to the water pipe pour something like CLR into the pipe and let it sit for a few hours in the area near where I think the clog is? thank you again.
    CLR is great stuff. Haven't tried it the way you are thinking of but in theory it should work. A few hours may not be enough sitting cold. Finding some way to heat pipe up would speed up reaction as would agitation, vibrator on pipe. Make sure you flush out well. Have fun.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Low household hot water pressure

    Might be too simple but is the domestic supply valve open? You have a mixing valve?
    Hard to tell with a gate valve. Handle rotation is the openly sure way to tell.

    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
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  15. #15
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    Default Re: Low household hot water pressure

    Quote Originally Posted by ROBERT YOUNG View Post
    Might be too simple but is the domestic supply valve open? You have a mixing valve?
    Hard to tell with a gate valve. Handle rotation is the openly sure way to tell.
    Gate valves have a tendency for the shaft to pull out of the gate - this allows the gate valve to close (the shaft pushes the gate closed), but not to open back up (shaft is no longer connected to the gate, so the shaft turns with the rotating handle, but nothing else happens.

    That is one reason I would note the presence of a gate valve and that I did not operate it and that a plumber needs to operate the gate valve while on site making other repairs, explaining the above ... because ... *I* was not going to be the one to shut the water off ... and then *not* be able to turn the water back on - I did that ... TWICE ... before I stopped doing it - and wrote them up as "Gate valve failed under testing - Replace gate valve." - then I began writing gate valves up as being present but not tested, have plumber test (I did not want be the one to leave a house with no water when it had water when I arrived ... no need for that phone call).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  16. #16
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    Default Re: Low household hot water pressure

    Good point.
    The gate should move up and down with handle rotation.

    I never operate valves as well. Took me near 30 minutes to stop a gate valve from leaking. Never again.

    Story. I was doing an inspection. The water pressure was low. I removed the aerator and it was still low. I went to the basement look at the main water shutoff valve. I remembered it happened to be a ball valve and the handle not fully perpendicular the domestic water supply pipe. Client asked me, Robert, engage the value to the open position to see if the water pressure increases. I refused. Clients not happy. I call over the agent which in-turn he gets the homeowner on the phone. He allowed me to open the valve. I engage the valve to the open position and low and behold, functional water pressure. Good flow.

    I write up what type of valves and move on. If a ball valve is not perpendicular, I write that up as well.

    Last edited by ROBERT YOUNG; 12-02-2017 at 12:11 AM.
    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
    Call (514) 489-1887 or (514) 441-3732
    Our Motto; Putting information where you need it most, "In your hands.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Low household hot water pressure

    I am sure many of us have seen gate stem handles, where the screw is not fully torqued, missing screws or gate-valve handles mechanically damaged, due to side blunt trauma force/s, which in turn can offset or damage the stem jamming it to rotate only partially in on direction. Thus, the gate would not full seat leaving water to bypass the channel.

    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
    Call (514) 489-1887 or (514) 441-3732
    Our Motto; Putting information where you need it most, "In your hands.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Low household hot water pressure

    So.. I replaced about 25 feet of 3/4" copper pipe. All the pipe was horizontal and it got progressively more clogged as I got closer to the boiler. I have attached photos. Thanks for all your help and comments and I would appreciate more of the same. Pete

    - - - Updated - - -

    So.. I replaced about 25 feet of 3/4" copper pipe. All the pipe was horizontal and it got progressively more clogged up as I got closed to the boiler. I have attached photos. Thanks for all your help and comments and I would appreciate more of the same. Pete

    - - - Updated - - -


    Here's another photo..

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    Last edited by petekahn; 11-29-2017 at 02:04 PM.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Low household hot water pressure

    Nice pics, and thanks for the update. Yes, you got hard water.

    Why not install PEX pipe and remove the copper from the chemical formula?

    If this is city water, I would be on the phone. If it's your own well, you need to replace filters and buy a new softener. Good luck with the project.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Low household hot water pressure

    Great pic's. I concur with John K. Hard water Mineral deposits. Improve water quality.

    Municipal domestic supply, or well? Either or, Improve water quality.

    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
    Call (514) 489-1887 or (514) 441-3732
    Our Motto; Putting information where you need it most, "In your hands.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Low household hot water pressure

    I have a well. I do have a water softener, which I feed salt to and mostly ignore. The softener is a few years old. Perhaps now would be a good time to figure out why it isnt doing its job. I also have a single canister whole house filter and I change the element when I get around to it. How often should I be replacing the whole house filter element? I am not aware of other symptoms that my water softener is not working properly, so when I go to fix it how do I know that it is fixed? My water seems fine (obviously it isnt, but I cant tell anything is wrong with it). thanks..

    Last edited by petekahn; 11-30-2017 at 07:18 AM.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Low household hot water pressure

    You need to get your water tested and then find out what is needed to correct it.

    Get the same people to look at what you have and what it is doing or not.


  23. #23
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    Default Re: Low household hot water pressure

    Water softeners are notorious for salt bridging. When that happens, the effectiveness is decreased. If you know you have bridging, you can use a sturdy rod to try and poke through the bridging.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Water softeners are notorious for salt bridging. When that happens, the effectiveness is decreased. If you know you have bridging, you can use a sturdy rod to try and poke through the bridging.


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