Cold water inlet temperature

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I am wondering if prolonged cold spells substantially reduce the temperature of the water entering a house from the city water service . . .
. . . and if that's true, does that temperature drop translate into increased stress on water heaters? My neighbor's just failed and last week we had a water main rupture, too. I can't help but wonder if these are temperature-related failures.
How would you go about measuring the inlet temperature of water? My thought is to let the cold water run for about 3 minutes to "cold soak" the pipes (copper, in my case, uninsulated, too) and then measure the temperature at the tap.
Letting it run for 3 minutes produced 41.5F on two different digital thermometers so I guess the answer to my question is that yes, the inlet temperature varies based on the outside temps and quite a bit more than I would have imagined. FWIW, it's about 29F outside and has been fairly cold out for a few weeks.
I'd like to be able to monitor and log the inlet temperature, but it would be hard to automate a 3 minute "cold soak" measurement like the one I just took. I have a HomeVision home automation controller that would allow me to attach a TI digital sensor to the inlet pipe where it enters the house in the basement. I can log those temps to the PC but it would be a) "contaminated" by the room heat and b) would vary substantially based on how much water is or isn't flowing past the external sensor. I suppose I can discard all but the lowest reading and perhaps put some insulation over the sensor and around the pipe to reduce the effects of room heat on the sensor.
Thanks for your input in advance . . .
--
Bobby G.



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I'm curious, lets say you prove that it is true. Short of moving to a warmer climate, what do you intend to do about it? Seems like a lot of work without much in the way of ROI.
In my case, the water in the pipes in the basement are colder than the water entering the house. But that's because I keep my basement at around 35 degrees in the winter. My water heater failed one summer, but it was about 25 years old and likely due to fail anyway.
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wrote:

temperature

week

Do you mean to say you can't think of *any* inexpensive or cost-free way to reduce potential thermal stress on a water heater when the inlet temperature goes very low? I can think of several off-hand.

That's pretty unusual for most homeowners I know.
--
Bobby G.



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On Mon, 10 Feb 2014 15:17:49 -0500, "Robert Green"

Our house - 60 years ago in Chicago - had a "tempering" tank. An uninsulated, unheated tank of about the same size next to the HW tank. That's the only way to reduce HW tank inlet temp I can think of - that makes sense and is cost effective, Don't think it was used to reduce "stress." Probably to increase capacity for a smaller water heater. Or to sell the "tempering" tank. Only reason to have one nowadays is perhaps to "temper" water for the on-demand type heaters.
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<stuff snipped>

to

temperature

By now you've probably read about the things I intend to experiment with to nurse the heater along through the supercold weather. So far, so good with the pressure drop and I am about to do a load of laundry to measure the fill rate.
The shower massager still pulses (turns out to be an excellent informal pressure gauge by accident!), the toilet's taking a little longer to fill and the bathroom sink is unusually low-flow and probably indicates something's amiss somewhere other than the screen. That fixed the low flow in the kitchen but not in the bathroom. So reducing pressure as a test actually had a diagnostic side effect. It really slowed down the flow from screens clogged with spooge.

Probably not, but you're in a cold enough climate that you never know, IIRC.

You said "next to" the heater - was it in line before the heater or after? Before it might have indeed been a pretempering device.

Yeah, what he just said. (-:

Oh, 25 to 50 extra gallons of potable water on premises can't be a bad idea, overall. In DC, we worry about dirty bombs and other "cakes baked" by those with an anti-government agenda, foreign and domestic.
While I don't think thermal stress is a great contributor to the *overall* wearing out of a water heater, what I've read so far convinces me that a long bout of very unusually cold weather will kill off the weaker water heaters in the herd. And by age alone, mine's a downer heater.
Speaking of euthanizing water heaters, how about that giraffe? I've already read two different versions. Killed by shotgun, killed by boltgun. I love the uncertainty of breaking news. (-:
Putting down "excess stock" makes me worry that one day when it's time to retire the boss will say: "Vic, Bobby - your outtake interviews are in room one" and Anton Chigur from "No Country For Old Men" will be waiting in there with his compressed air tank. PFFFFT!
(Wouldn't that thing get all matted up with dried brain goo?)
--
Bobby G.




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On Mon, 10 Feb 2014 19:33:24 -0500, "Robert Green"

No, I'll go look. Okay, you basically throttled down the input, and turned down the water heat. Seems a drastic step to take to reduce the possibility of thermal shock. But tinker if you want to. Cant hurt unless you screw up the valve. I did the throttling bit once with an old gas furnace that was throwing too much heat up the stack, but that was a different case. I think you're making too much of it.

Before. I removed it when I put a new WH in. It was old, and just another failure point. BTW, the water temp at the Lake Michigan intake crib whence my water originates, is currently 32 F. Don't know what the cold water Temp in the house is. Except it's pretty cold.

You're probably better off with a tempering tank to serve that "need." I did a quick look and didn't see anybody selling them. You need a tank able to withstand municipal water pressure. Costly.

I haven't followed it, but wonder why they don't use birth control to avoid "excess stock." Saw that movie, but don't remember an air tank. Sorry (-:
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<stuff snipped>

to

with

fill

Drastic? DRASTIC????? Adding an expansion or tempering tank or putting fins on the portion of the pipe from the main shut off/building inlet to the water heater would be drastic. These are "fixes" that took nothing more than the twist of a valve or a dial. (-: Not even a full twist, either.

Another county heard from. Ironic since I am not advising anyone to do what I am doing.
I'd agree with your assessment if you were living next door and I could grab you during the middle of a serious snowstorm and get you to help me replace the tank while saying "I told you so." But I doubt that any of the posters who have claimed I am worrying too much is going to be standing beside me helping me repair things in the bitter cold if they guessed incorrectly.
I got to quiz the plumber as he replaced the unit in my neighbor's home today and he said they had almost three times the number of emergency calls about water heaters as they normally do. Something about this incredibly long, incredibly cold spell is resulting in aging water heaters having "aneurysms" and failing at an accelerated rate. I've noticed that trend and want to see if there's any way to keep myself from being that plumber's next service call.

flow

from

IIRC.

after?

That's interesting because the plumber installed just such device today before the water heater - it looked like a small propane tank. He said the expansion tank was now required by code in the county. Might have been the same for the tank you removed. Did it pass inspection after the change or has it been inspected? IIRC, Chicago, like NYC, has some of the strictest building and fire codes in the nation. I seem to recall that both cities still require armored cable but they may have finally decided to embrace Romex.

Jeez, that ISs pretty damn cold! All the articles I've been reading about burst pipes and water heater failures (sample below)
http://www.debordinc.com/pdf/sept_2010___Newsletter.pdf .
seem to agree that there are things you can do to extend the life of your heater and turning down the thermostat is one of them.

idea,

those

Agreed. Right now there's 25G of potable water stored in Nalgene tanks in the old darkroom (that was converted to an animal hospice). A expansion tank would insure that water's always fresh but I'd have to be able to pump it out if the water's cut. But that would be a "drastic" solution. I want to take some simple precautions to avoid experiencing my neighbor's fate.
Today, the plumber, when briefing my neighbors about their new heater, warned them that the higher the tank temperature is set, the shorter the tank's overall lifespan. The hotter the water, the faster corrosion takes place. Also, the greater the temperature delta, the more the unit cycles within a given time period. I alread discovered those facts reading about heater failures, but it was good to know the plumber agreed.
So I rolled back the temperature AND the pressure until the normal weather returns. Seems like a very simple, very un-drastic precaution to take when an old, old water heater is exposed to inlet water colder than it's ever seen in its entire service life. I can live with slightly cooler hot water for a few days or weeks more. As long as it's warm enough to shower comfortably (and it is) there's no big whoop. Since I've got a Floodstop electrical master shut off valve AND a manual one, I am not afraid of buggering the valve by adjusting it to compensate for the extreme cold.

*overall*

already

love

By now you've *had* to have heard of the Copenhagen Zoo's serious public relations nightmare. They're in more trouble than Chris Christie. (-:

room

there

So are a lot of people. People are also wondering why the zoo didn't take up the several valid offers to accept the "surplus" giraffe instead of chopping it up in front of zoo visitors. I suspect the zoo's director will soon be retiring or looking for a new job. It's a classic case of scientists getting so wrapped around the axle that they are unaware of how their actions will look to non-scientists - in this case zoo patrons who are far less concerned with inbreeding than they are with the concept of zoos killing healthy animals that could *easily* have found a home elsewhere.

Holy Moly, Vic. He carried that tank (connected to a bolt gun) everywhere. It WAS the freakin' star of the movie! The killer (Javier Bardeem) went around using it to pop locks out of doors and brains out of people's heads. The ghosts of Siskel and Ebert, former Chicagoans and renowned movie critics are weeping in heaven for you. (-:
--
Bobby G.



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On Tue, 11 Feb 2014 22:43:45 -0500, "Robert Green"

Only because I don't fancy throttling stop valves. Most of mine are gate valves. There was no other word that came mind. Could have called it "extreme." Anyway, you did it. No issue with turning the heat down. Have mine at about 130F all the time. BTW, you could just limit how much you open the faucets to get the same effect. But you'd have to remember to do it.

I've replaced a few, but the always failed during mild weather. Don't doubt that there are more failures in the winter though.

The toilet shouldn't be affected, unless you throttled the main valve. I assumed you just throttled in heater inlet.

No, it was a tempering tank. Same capacity, but plain uninsulated tank. A couple years ago I replaced the tank in this house, and didn't use an expansion tank. Hell no, I didn't have it inspected. Chicago code may require expansion tanks for new construction. Not sure. I didn't notice any in the box store where I bought the water heater.

Yabbut, keeping the temp down to "acceptable" is normal energy conservation (money), like turning off lights.

If you can live with it in the winter, summer is a breeze. Why not just leave the temp turned down?

Around here, by the time a WH fails, it's best to replace it anyway, as it's all scaled up and inefficient. Cycle of life.

I saw exactly one brief new clip about that. It was a stupid move.

I went and looked at some Youtube clips. I found it a contrived, cartoonish and forgettble flick. Probably because of the air tank, which is ridiculous. Maybe I was in the wrong mood when I watched it. Might watch it again. Mostly remembered Josh Brolin's performance, as I was unfamiliar with him. I'm waaay behind on movies. I was more in synch with Siskel.
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<much inline snippage to remove first generations comments>

fins

either.

Everyone's entitled to their preferences. I don't like torquing valves that have no backup. I also don't like tripping breakers deliberately but I concede that it can be helpful in situations. I really don't understand why some people have taken exception to my wanting to try protect my creaky old water heater from a very unusual weather situation that clearly has seriously negative effects on plumbing.

Yeah, remember. That'll work. NOT (-: I can't remember if I've taken a pill 30 seconds later. So that's not a workable option.

calls

and

next

At least that is what the plumber said. My point is that this is a very unusual winter and the inlet water is probably colder than it's ever been. You've owned lots of cars. Tell me what happens when you take a car that's logged 100K miles at no greater than 3100RPM and you redline it? That's when I first learned about pistons having "carbon ridges."

Actually, I throttled the main valve because I didn't want to create an unequal pressure differential. Lowering the pressure at the main shut off means that the balance of the hot and cold water valves I have set at the washing machine will stay the same. I also did it that way because the main shut off valve has an electric backup, and I agree with your belief not to mess with a valve that has no backup unless you have to. The water heater inlet valve has no backup and is probably crusted up inside. Not a good candidate for tweaking.

the

the

or

strictest

Well, sounds like someone was concerned with the inlet temperature at some point. (-: Does your water it look anything like this - sounds ancient!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ruud_no.3_Instantaneous_and_Automatic_Water_Heater.JPG
(-;

It's something I'll have to look into. I don't have one now and am not sure why one is needed. I forgot to ask the plumber about it. That damn memory thing again!

about

Agreed. We had jacked up the heat when we had company because the third person to shower didn't get the "premium" hot water. You just reminded me to add another HomeVision temperature probe to the hot water outlet pipe. Thanks!.
> >So I rolled back the temperature AND the pressure until the normal weather

when

water

Indeed. Why not? We may boost it again when company comes but it seems perfectly livable where it is now, which is 125F or maybe less. The truth is that until my neighbor's heater failed, I didn't even think about the very cold inlet water and the possibility that might trigger a failure.

a

water

take

will

how

are

It was more than that, it was a stupid ballet. One move after the other got them in deeper and deeper. I suspect even now the director doesn't think anything noteworthy occurred. It's all over Google News along with some pretty gruesome pictures. Little 2 year old Marius being "parted out" to the lions in big, recognizable giraffe chunks. While I am generally pro-science, sometimes scientists can get themselves locked deep within a bubble that impairs their thinking.

everywhere.

heads.

critics

No one ever said it would work! There were several long threads about how unlikely it was that those locked lock cylinders would punch out in the movie groups. I didn't realize James Brolin had been killed until I hit rewind.
I thought the best part was when his wife tells the killer "The coin ain't got nothing to do with it - it's all you" when he offers her the chance to win back her life with a coin flip. I had a kid working for me at the time who thought the movie was the finest ever made, full of deep meaning and philosophical truth. I'm not sure but I sure have discussed to it death. I would NOT have taken the water back to the bandido, although it probably didn't matter much anyway because the money bag was bugged.

Me too. Just remember the guy with the tank is supposed to be (I am told) the persona of an uncaring and random Death, one who can't be bargained with unless He chooses to offer you a wager. It at least makes a *little* sense from the perspective. My wife thinks the villian was cartoonish and along the lines of the shark with the "candygram" that used to be on early episodes of SNL.

Yeah, but Ebert was perversely reliable. If he *liked* something I knew I wouldn't. (-:
--
Bobby G.



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On Wed, 12 Feb 2014 18:46:40 -0500, "Robert Green"

I didn't notice anybody take exception. You're too sensitive,

You'll actually have a "metal" ridge there. At least I did on the 352 I rebuilt. Had to rent a ridge reamer.

No, just a steel tank. I really think the purpose of that tank was to increase the recovery time of the heater, and not to relieve thermal stress.

That's a circus I missed.

I went to the "art" theater when I worked downtown based on his "four star" reviews a couple times. One flick was mediocre, the second atrocious. ..I looked and found one. "The Grey Fox." He gave 3 1/2 stars. I found that one mediocre. The other was a subtitled French flick. After those two Siskel had to agree with him before I considered it.
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old

Yes, I am always "making mountains out of molehills." At least that's what DadioH told me. (-:

that's

Well, if you redline a car that has piston ridge what happens is that the pistons travel just a bit more than they ever have before and they knock into that ridge with some interesting consequences. (-: None of them good.

some

er_Heater.JPG

We'll probably never know for sure.

I was dragged to a film called "Daughters of the Dust." My impression was that if you forced POW's to watch it, it would be considered a violation of the Geneva Convention. It was not just a hyper-chick flick, it was a black chick flick. Not to sound racist but there wasn't a second in the film that I could relate to. It was about . . . I don't think I ever knew what it was about but it certainly was a wake-up call to not to ever trust Ebert again:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daughters_of_the_Dust
The critic Roger Ebert wrote of the use of Gullah creole, "The fact that some of the dialogue is deliberately difficult is not frustrating, but comforting; we relax like children at a family picnic, not understanding everything, but feeling at home with the expression of it."
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On Tuesday, February 11, 2014 10:43:45 PM UTC-5, Robert Green wrote:

I don't see how they could be unaware. They were given a petition with 27,000 signatures saying not to kill the giraffe. The other thing I don't see anyone talking much about is if they were so concerned about inbreeding, they could have neutered the animal. The zoo did have some lame excuse about that, saying that if you anesthetize a giraffe, it may fall down and break it's neck. Seems the *chance* of that happening is a hell of a lot better than just killing it. This is about as dumb as it gets. It's just a bunch of eggheads insistant on following the rules they've made up. When you have responsible zoos in other countries willing to take the animal, eg England, no excuse for what they did.
IMO, until those responsible are fired, everyone should boycott the zoo and keep the pressure up.
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<stuff snipped>

how

are

zoos

Agreed. I probably should have said "unconcerned" - they had to be aware, they just didn't care.

My wife got a kick of your statement that basically says "We needed to kill it to keep it from being hurt." How much worse can you be hurt than being killed? Excuses don't get much lamer than that.

on following

Yep. They certainly did not come across well during this incident. And they kept insisting that the rules demanded the death of this young giraffe, Marius. Why name him if you're intent on killing him? Just makes it that much more gruesome, IMHO.

There were a number of places that came forward to no avail. It sure seems to the untrained eye that they wanted that giraffe dead in the worst way and worked around every possible chance to save his life. I wouldn't be surprised if some angry Dane chops up the zoo director and feeds HIM to the lions, all the time saying "But it's Nature's way!"
A very long time ago my driving ed instructor said "When I showed films of gruesome car wrecks with people parts lying on the roadway to try to get them to slow down when driving, the kids yawned. But when they saw a film of an accident where a cattle truck was hit by another truck and wounded cattle were all over the highway, the kids starting screaming and wailing and were overcome with grief." Dismembered humans didn't affect them anywhere near as much as dismembered animals. I think the Copenhagen zoo director is in the process of making a similar discovery about human nature.

I suspect they will. I can't see the director keeping his job, but stranger things have happened. Perhaps it will result in the zoo association rewriting their rulebook about how to deal with "excess animals."
--
Bobby G.



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On Wednesday, February 12, 2014 11:18:47 PM UTC-5, Robert Green wrote:

Another sign of how dumb they are is the zoo officials are now running around saying they are shocked that they are getting death threats. Really? You get a petition with 27,000 signatures on it trying to save the life of a cute animal and you're shocked that in all those people there are some who will resort to death threats in today's world? Don't they have PETA and/or similar groups over there? And to top it off, they even made a spectacle of cutting up the dead giraffe, like they wanted to make a point and really stick it in everyone's face that they could do as they please. IMO, those idiots should not even be allowed to have pets, let alone run a zoo.
On the other side, you also have some people who are loons. I googled to see if there was a petition you could sign to get those responsible fired. Instead I found a petition with 95,000 signatures to *close* the zoo. One would think the better solution is to replace those responsible. If they actually close it, it could lead to more animals being put down, or being in worse conditions, because they may not be able to find suitable zoos to take all of them.
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<stuff snipped>

wailing

zoo

nature.

Yes. I am all for science I can even sympathize with the desire to avoid inbreeding but they did make an awful spectacle of the event. And giraffe chunks are so easily recognizable as dead giraffe because of their markings.
Many items I've read said that zoos do this all the time but most have the good sense not to "stick it in people's faces." Epic fail for Copenhagen, I guess.

They may get themselves there eventually. I can't see -the director staying in place for very much longer. But the Danes are an odd lot. A kid that worked for me spent a year there and he concluded that they are not like us in many ways. Who knows what they'll do in the long run?

I saw that too and hoped it was just a typical "ask for the moon and get what you really want" negotiating tactic meant to remove the director. I still find it remarkable how far off the zoo was in anticipating public reaction. That's the basic business sin of not knowing your customers. I read an article that talks about Amazon and how their initial book selling business was primarily meant to gather data on customers who *would* buy books on line. May not be your cup of tea but it's a fascinating story about how Amazon changed the book publishing world forever.
http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2014/02/17/140217fa_fact_packer?currentPage=all
<<It seems preposterous now, but Amazon began as a bookstore. In 1994, at the age of thirty, Bezos, a Princeton graduate, quit his job at a Manhattan hedge fund and moved to Seattle to found a company that could ride the exponential growth of the early commercial Internet. (Bezos calculated that, in 1993, usage climbed by two hundred and thirty thousand per cent.)>>
--
Bobby G.



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On Monday, February 10, 2014 11:40:30 AM UTC-5, Robert Green wrote:

Yes. Our tap water varies from lukewarm in the summer to ice cold in the winter, in central Virginia.
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On Monday, February 10, 2014 12:36:33 PM UTC-5, TimR wrote:

In coming water is definitely colder here in suburban NJ in winter too. That's why it's good to have automatic temp adjusting on washing machines. The older ones just gave you cold, half and half for warm, or hot. Newer/better ones mix it to the correct temp. In winter mine adds some amount of hot water, even if you have it set to cold.
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<stuff snipped>

In the winter I trim the washing machine "cold" valve to about half flow. Takes longer to fill the tub but Ye Olde Kenmore has simple hot/warm/cold settings and no capacity for automatic temperature adjustment. Since it's set and forget operation, the longer fill times don't bother me much. I think the next time the shower/diverter valve needs replacing, I will choose a thermostatic unit. There's a chance of doing real damage if the shower temperature drifts too much.
--
Bobby G.




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temperature

winter, in central Virginia.
I used to notice things like this when I had a darkroom but it's been a long time. I was surprised to read it at 41.5F. Does anyone know if well-water is subject to the same temperature swings as municipal water?
--
Bobby G.

>
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On Monday, February 10, 2014 10:40:30 AM UTC-6, Robert Green wrote:

ure of the water entering a house from the city water service . . . . . . a nd if that's true, does that temperature drop translate into increased stre ss on water heaters? My neighbor's just failed and last week we had a water main rupture, too. I can't help but wonder if these are temperature-relate d failures. How would you go about measuring the inlet temperature of water ? My thought is to let the cold water run for about 3 minutes to "cold soak " the pipes (copper, in my case, uninsulated, too) and then measure the tem perature at the tap. Letting it run for 3 minutes produced 41.5F on two dif ferent digital thermometers so I guess the answer to my question is that ye s, the inlet temperature varies based on the outside temps and quite a bit more than I would have imagined. FWIW, it's about 29F outside and has been fairly cold out for a few weeks. I'd like to be able to monitor and log the inlet temperature, but it would be hard to automate a 3 minute "cold soak" measurement like the one I just took. I have a HomeVision home automation controller that would allow me to attach a TI digital sensor to the inlet p ipe where it enters the house in the basement. I can log those temps to the PC but it would be a) "contaminated" by the room heat and b) would vary su bstantially based on how much water is or isn't flowing past the external s ensor. I suppose I can discard all but the lowest reading and perhaps put s ome insulation over the sensor and around the pipe to reduce the effects of room heat on the sensor. Thanks for your input in advance . . . -- Bobby G .
Here in suburban Chicagoland, there is almost always a rash of municipal wa ter main breaks after a good cold snap, due to the water mains shrinking du e to the scold temperatures that get down to the level of the installed pip es. Unless there are some strain reliefs periodically, the shrinkage cause s stresses and the weakest one breaks. Stress relief usually takes the for m of an "S" bend periodically.
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