Moved into a 1978 built two story home. The weird thing is we get instant hot
water upstairs in both bathrooms. In all the homes I have lived in you would
have to run the water a bit to get hot water. In this house the water is very
hot instantly. Is this something that was designed in the home, or could I have
some type of plumbing problem?
The first thing that comes to mind is a very slow leak somewhere near the
upstairs, hopefully not behind a wall. This would explain the constant hot
water supply to the upstairs. I would start looking around for discolored
walls, 1st story ceilings or area's that look moist. Even if it were a
direct line upstairs with 1/2 inch copper it would still take a few seconds
to get hot water.
Am I correct in understanding that *as soon as you turn it on*, you have hot
: Moved into a 1978 built two story home. The weird thing is we get instant
: water upstairs in both bathrooms. In all the homes I have lived in you
: have to run the water a bit to get hot water. In this house the water is
: hot instantly. Is this something that was designed in the home, or could I
: some type of plumbing problem?
Here is some more info, the water heater is a 50 gal gas heater. There does not
seem to be and type of pump or loop. The water in the basement, and the 1st
floor kitchen and bath do not get the instant hot water like the 2 baths
upstairs. I have checked very carefully for any leaks and have found none. In
the 2 showers upstairs they have the type of faucets that are combo, in that
you just adjust one knob, so they get very hot water all at once, may take 2-3
min before enough cold water is mixed to allow you to enter the shower. Our
children are older now 13-22 yrs so its not that big of a concern, if I had
younger children i would be more concerned about this. It just seems odd to me,
and would like to figure out why this is.
I believe one or more of your single handle faucets is leaking internally
from the hot line into the cold line. This can allow a thermosiphon back
into the cold water system or flow of hot water thru the valve whenever
another cold water faucet is opened to create a pressure differential. This
is not too uncommon and can be detected fairly easily if you have access to
feel the lines near the leaking faucet(s). Replacement of faucet internals
may fix the leak. Also carefully check the internals for improper parts or
Don Young ( firstname.lastname@example.org) (Remove numbers to reply)
Generally Tigerpaw40, is that the speed of the heat to the tap is
directionally proportioned to the proximity of the hot water tank. If it is
close to the taps, then expect water sooner than any taps that require more
pipe to get the water there. We are in a 4 level split home and we shower
right over the HW tank and get hot water almost immediately. However, in the
kitchen, about 20-30 feet more pipe to warm up and further away, we have to
wait a little longer....bottom line (In your situation) is that the hot
water tank has been placed in a close proximity to achieve the quickest heat
possible in all locations...good for you!
Really easy. A loop with one end at the hot end and the other to the
bottom of the heater. Assuming the heater in below the distribution lines
the hot water will rise and the cold water in the line will fall creating a
slow movement through the pipe from the top (hot) end to the bottom (less
hot) part of the water heater.
As I understand it, it does not always work all that well with out a
pump assist, it consumes energy and it requires a return line, not always
easy to add after the fact.
I used to run a 18 story office building. The bottom 9 had hot water
supplied by a WH in the basement, the top 9 by one in the penthouse. The
pump motor went out on the lower unit and I found it on my morning rounds.
I shut it off and started looking for a replacement. The construction
company used stuff that met the specifications of the building, but only
barely. I called many places looking for a motor to replace the bad one. I
finally found one about the time I realized it had been almost 2 weeks and
there was no complaints from the tenants about the lack of hot water in the
bathrooms. From that I figured either one of 2 things: 1) no one ever used
hot water to wash their hands(if they were doing it at all) or 2) something
was happening to the water. I walked into the pump room and grabbed the
supply and return lines of the hot water system. The hot side of the WH was
indeed hot about 5 feet out and the return line was warmish. This was at
about 7:15 AM and there weren't too many tenants there. I rode the elevator
to the 8th floor and turned on the water in the men's room. It got hot
quicker than I thought possible. Thermosiphon!
True when the conditions and installation is good. I have heard of a
lot of stories where it did not work all that well.
If I ever have the opportunity to add it to my home or build it into a
new home I will do so. I did not mean to discourage anyone.
I didn't see you discouraging anyone. This system was a straight up and
down with only the 2 elbows at the top of the loop. It (the thermosiphon
system) was one of the few things that went right in that building and that
was an accident!
It may have a design that keeps the hot water flowing even when all the
taps are turned off. That cost a little more to run, but is nice to have.
The time can also be reduced by using smaller pipe, but that can cause
As indicated a slow leak can also be indicated.
If that water is very fast at coming up to temp, then I would suspect
One option to consider. If the plumbing from the water heater to the
upstairs sink goes up, or horizontal with no "down" dips, then it is
possible the hot water is migrating up by convection.
I know that in several applications I've worked on, the installer has
deliberately put in a dip (somewhat like a J-trap under a sink) to prevent
hot from migrating up the pipes.
The other posters are also correct, you may have a small leak. Check around.
If you don't have a small leak, then you very possibly have natural
convection going on. If that's the case, just smile a big grin, and enjoy
Christopher A. Young
Jesus: The Reason for the Season
Not much information to go on! You don't mention how your hot water is
heated. Electric hot water tank? Electric 'instant' heater? Gas? From your
home heating furnace (which could be gas, electric, oil or wood)?
Most home owners have some idea what equipment provides their hot water
because it is, usually, a significant component of your utility costs?
Several suggestions, regarding your immediate hot water question.
(Suggestions only; others more expert may provide further ideas.)
1) You have one of those water heaters that 'instantly' heats the water as
it flows through. In other words there is no hot water tank or reservoir and
water is heated only as required? These are often deemed to be more
'economical' because there is no reserve of hot water in a tank or cylinder
to be kept warm due to lost heat over a period of time. AFIK they are more
common in Europe than North America. They may require, if electric, fairly
heavy wiring to cope with the short term 'demand' for heat.
2) Your conventional hot water heating tank/reservoir is immediately
adjacent (perhaps in a cupboard in the wall behind) to your bathroom
3) The hot water plumbing was installed with what I will call a "loop back"
to the water heating source. So, even if the hot water heater is in say your
basement ? as soon as the water cools down in the piping near your bathroom
taps, it drops back down to the heater, to be replaced with warmer water!
Hence the water at the tap is always warm. Haven't heard this discussed
very often in this type of forum, in North America.
4) The hot water may be heated by your home heating furnace and circulating
by convection so that the hot water tends to rise to the level of the
bathrooms, which you indicate are upstairs.
Respectfully suggest you become familiar with your system whatever type; if
your hot water fails it would be best to know whether you have a gas,
electric or other problem. Also if the hot water equipment, or some of it,
is 1978 vintage it will most likely eventually need some maintenance. It may
be necessary to close off water valves or shut off sources of fuel, in a
hurry, perhaps to avoid/minimize damage. (In fact your insurance company
will require you 'to take measures' to minimize damage or avoid injury
Any help? Terry.
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