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Old 09-18-2010, 09:16 AM
 
Location: Boca Raton
9,342 posts, read 16,164,004 times
Reputation: 9031
Default Intermittent hot and cold water in shower

The place we are renting has intermittent hot and cold water in the shower. We can't take a shower without it suddenly getting cold, then we have to turn the water off, stand there (all soapy!) for a few seconds, then turn it back on and hot water will return. The water heater has been turned up to a dangerous temp- literally scalding- so every shower is an adventure.

The water heater is a tankless. In an attempt to identify the problem, I've run the hot water in the sink that is right next to the shower for five minutes and no problem with hot water- it was continuously hot the entire time.

I think it might be the shower valve or cartridge. The hot water spigot is separate from the cold in the shower. The same problem occurs in the guest bathroom shower in the main house, located on the other side of our shower.

Can anyone provide guidance on hot to identify and resolve this problem? It's an older home.
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Old 09-18-2010, 05:23 PM
 
Location: Detroit's Marina District
968 posts, read 1,684,000 times
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I'd bring in a plumber. They know how to fix anything, literally. I've never heard of that happening before, and I've always lived in older homes until I bought the one I'm in now.
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Old 09-18-2010, 05:31 PM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
11,488 posts, read 25,992,256 times
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Generally a landlord problem. However... decayed rubber washer, crud in the lines leading to the mixer valve, bad cartridge. A new balanced flow mixer valve would resolve the issue and give safe comfortable showers.
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Old 09-18-2010, 09:54 PM
 
42,391 posts, read 47,526,931 times
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Call your landlord. If he doesn't respond appropriately, write him a letter.

If he doesn't respond appropriately again, check your state and local landlord tenant laws.

Many states allow you to deduct repairs from your rent if the landlord doesn't repair something in a timely manner.
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Old 09-19-2010, 05:34 AM
 
Location: Boca Raton
9,342 posts, read 16,164,004 times
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Thanks, remisc. She's an older woman and was told by someone (that isn't looking out for her best interest and is not a plumber, but he is all ready to do the work for her) that she needed a new hot water heater. I think that a plumber is the way to go.

Quote:
Originally Posted by harry chickpea View Post
Generally a landlord problem. However... decayed rubber washer, crud in the lines leading to the mixer valve, bad cartridge. A new balanced flow mixer valve would resolve the issue and give safe comfortable showers.
This is just what I was looking for. Thanks, Harry. Now I can ask the right questions of the plumber- could it be? have you tried?...., etc. Too often service people will start with the biggest possible fixes and work their way down, especially if they think the customer has not knowledge of the subject. Now I can at least fake it!
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Old 09-19-2010, 10:15 PM
 
29,990 posts, read 20,014,129 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harry chickpea View Post
Generally a landlord problem. However... decayed rubber washer, crud in the lines leading to the mixer valve, bad cartridge. A new balanced flow mixer valve would resolve the issue and give safe comfortable showers.
That was my first thought, the mixer valve. Have the landlord call a plumber and turn the water heater down far enough you won't get scorched in while you await repair.
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Old 09-19-2010, 11:13 PM
 
10,686 posts, read 8,494,818 times
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The shower uses more water than the sink does. Is this a private home with a well or county supplied water?

If there is a well then there is a bladder somewhere (usually a blue tank). Its pressure is set too high so when it cycles the cold pressure is much higher than the existing pressure in the system. Thus cold water goes up and hot water goes down. The workaround is to turn on the hot water first. Then to turn on the cold water until its at a comfy level. Thus when the bladder kicks on then there will be little change in temp.

Water tank air bladder pressure settings: How to Set or Adjust the Air Pressure in Bladder Type Water Storage & Pressure Tanks

As stated above you have separate handles thus there is no mixer valve. And since two bathrooms have the same issue its not crud either (possible sentiment issue maybe). As to the rubber washers: do they leak or continue running when the water is shut off? If not also not the issue.

The water heater by your description is rather new, so it has an anti-scold feature. Which means you can only set it so high that it wont burn skin.

If its a county suppled system then the problem is in the hot water tank, one of the heating coils is going bad. So when the tank drops in water level below a bad coil thus no hot water until the level rises back up. Alternatively there may be a cut-off timer installed and its timer has gone bad.

Question: Is there a washing machine in the home? If yes, when its set to warm what does the water temp feel like when touched during its fill stage?

Last edited by Pruzhany; 09-19-2010 at 11:27 PM..
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Old 09-20-2010, 06:30 AM
 
Location: Boca Raton
9,342 posts, read 16,164,004 times
Reputation: 9031
Quote:
Originally Posted by NeilVA View Post
The shower uses more water than the sink does. Is this a private home with a well or county supplied water?

If there is a well then there is a bladder somewhere (usually a blue tank). Its pressure is set too high so when it cycles the cold pressure is much higher than the existing pressure in the system. Thus cold water goes up and hot water goes down. The workaround is to turn on the hot water first. Then to turn on the cold water until its at a comfy level. Thus when the bladder kicks on then there will be little change in temp.

Water tank air bladder pressure settings: How to Set or Adjust the Air Pressure in Bladder Type Water Storage & Pressure Tanks

As stated above you have separate handles thus there is no mixer valve. And since two bathrooms have the same issue its not crud either (possible sentiment issue maybe). As to the rubber washers: do they leak or continue running when the water is shut off? If not also not the issue.

The water heater by your description is rather new, so it has an anti-scold feature. Which means you can only set it so high that it wont burn skin.

If its a county suppled system then the problem is in the hot water tank, one of the heating coils is going bad. So when the tank drops in water level below a bad coil thus no hot water until the level rises back up. Alternatively there may be a cut-off timer installed and its timer has gone bad.

Question: Is there a washing machine in the home? If yes, when its set to warm what does the water temp feel like when touched during its fill stage?
County water and washing machine and owner's bathrooms are on far side of the house. She claims that there is no problem on her end and we have no access to the washers....

I tried turning on the hot water in the sink before taking a shower and it seemed to address the problem. Son reports success, as well. Since heater is right by our bath, your explanation sounds right- although county water, perhaps the installer did something to ramp up the pressure to get the water to the other side of the house (should really be on two heaters). This would also explain the scalding water. I manage property professionally and have never felt water this hot. (This is also why my first thought was the cartridge. At an older condo that I managed, they all seemed to be going at about the same time.)

We are only here until we find a home to rent and are able to go month-to-month, so I am not going to make waves. I can tolerate almost anything as long as I have a hot shower and a cuppa joe in the morning.
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