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
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
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 . . .
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.
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
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.
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
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?)
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.
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.
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
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
Jeez, that ISs pretty damn cold! All the articles I've been reading about
burst pipes and water heater failures (sample below)
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.
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.
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. (-:
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. (-:
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
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
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
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.
<much inline snippage to remove first generations comments>
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.
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.
Well, sounds like someone was concerned with the inlet temperature at some
point. (-: Does your water it look anything like this - sounds ancient!
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
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.
> >So I rolled back the temperature AND the pressure until the normal
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
..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.
Yes, I am always "making mountains out of molehills." At least that's what
DadioH told me.
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.
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:
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."
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.
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.
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."
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.
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
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.
<<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.)>>
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
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.
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?
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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