Takes a long time to get hot water to 2nd floor

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Hello -
I'm new to this group. There is a lot of good advice about flushing and/or draining hot water heaters and I'm wondering if I need to do this. It takes a long time (and a lot of wasted water) to get hot water to the 2nd floor of my home (hot water heater is 2 levels below in the basement). Would this situation improve if I were to flush and/or drain the hot water heater? We've lived in this house for 3 years and I've never done it. The house is 28 years old, but the hot water heater (a gas model) doesn't look nearly that old.
Thanks for any advice....
Mike
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The originally hot water sits in two stories of pipe and cools. You have to move that much out of the pipes. You could look at a recirculating system. You could look at an in-line flow actuated heater. Both are expensive to install and give better comfort and performance. TB
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snipped-for-privacy@bellsouth.net wrote in

Does the furnace need to run more to with a recirculating pump?
Thanks.
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wrote (with possible editing):

Not in this case. The OP said he had a water heater. THAT will run more with recirculation, but it will cure his problem and slightly reduce boiler/furnace usage.
We did a substantial addition to our house several years ago. To cure the same problem, we went to the furthest point on the hot water line and provided a pipe back to the boiler which also supplies hot water. The boiler is a Buderus which incorporates a computer output to run a recirculator. I set it to come on every 30 minutes during the day and off at night. It is terrific - hot water out of the tap after less than 3 seconds. If you have multiple water lines, you can add a return to each and couple them with a tee before going to the recirc pump. You can adjust by adding a valve to the shortest run, but it really isn't necessary.
To do this, you need to be able to run a pipe to the end of the hot water line. This is much easier to do with pex than copper. In a cold climate (we're in northern NH) there is effectively no significant increase in our oil bill, since our pipes are insulated and besides, radiation from the hot water pipe would simply cut down on boiler heating, more or less.
--
Larry
Email to rapp at lmr dot com
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wrote:

IN the winter. In the summer it will slightly increase AC usage, if he uses the AC.
Mike, how long does the hot water take to get to your basement sink, or the bathroom on the first floor immediately above hot water heater. Or the kitchen. It's going to take longer the farther it has to go. I insulated the hotwater pipes in the basement, but for a guy who lives alone, and uses the water only every hour or two, it has no effect.
Does water flow out of the faucet on t he third floor at a normal pace? But doesn't at other hot water faucets. Then it's the pipes not the HWH. But I'm sure the answer to this question was no.
I doubt very much there is anything wrong with your system. Flushing out a bit of water from the HWH is recommended every so many years for many HWH's but not to solve your problem. Which really is no problem and is probably normal.
(Get a little plastic man in a plastic boat, put him in tthe hot water heater and time how long it t akes for him to come out the 2nd floor faucet. Or use a radioactive isotope. Take similar measurements at other faucets and see if the time is proportional to distance. Or just measure the time it takes to get hot.)
Remove NOPSAM to email me. Please let me know if you have posted also.
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A simpler recirculation system cross connects the hot and cold lines under the furthest sink. No power, pump or return lines are needed. The downside is that you will now need to run the cold water just a little (not as much as you did the hot) to purge the warm water to get cold. Not an issue when warming up a shower or if you usually drink bottled water. The upside is these systems are very inexpensive and can be installed in an hour.
Yahoogle on hot water recirculation and you will soon be overwhelmed by information.
Any recirculation system will cause an increase in hot water heating charges (gas or electric) but will substantially reduce the waste of water. Insulating the hot pipes will make a big difference in the efficiency any of these systems.
While it is not practical to change your pipes, a smaller pipe for the hot water (1/2" instead of 3/4") would substantially reduce the volume of water standing in the pipe which needs to be purged before the hot gets to you.
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wrote (with possible editing):
...snip

And yet another solution uses the electric on-demand water heaters which install just under the sink. Thermostatically controlled, they only operate until the regular hot water gets to them. The disadvantage, of course, is the operating cost, but that might not be an issue if electricity is inexpensive where you live.
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Larry
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Thanks for the info. I understand that the pipes between the heater and the faucet cools off, it just seems that it takes a loooong time to finally get hot water. I thought maybe doing some water heater maintenance could help as it hasn't been done in several years.
Thanks again...
Mike
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Mike wrote:

If I did my calculations right, 50' of 1/2" ID pipe contains about 1/2 gallon of water. So you have to run that out, PLUS, the new hot water will cool as it travels through the cold pipe until the pipe warms up enough. If your pipes are larger, obviously even more water will have to run through.
Measure it, you're probably draining 3/4 of a gallon or more to get hot water.
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pipes. Increasing the pressure would reduce the time it takes to get hot but not the volume of water wasted. Maintenence will increase the lifetime of the heater but not its performance sending water upstairs.
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Mike wrote:

Someone recommended this to me. I haven't pulled the trigger yet but I think I will.
www.hotwaterlobster.com/
Dave
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Dave Miller wrote:

No doubt it will work *somewhat* better than nothing, but think carefully about a few things first:
1. How much energy you will waste keeping the water in those pipes warm all the time. Do the calculations for the additional heat loss from all that uninsulated piping (For almost all of 24 hours every day.) and you'll be shocked, just shocked, at the number of BTUs that adds up to, all of which has to be supplied by whatever energy source you are paying for to fuel your water heater.
2. If you want to draw a glass of "cold water", you'll have to run (and waste) water while you wait for the warm water to empty out of the cold water pipes.
3. 80 degree F water is likely gonna feel too cold to step under in a shower, you'll still have to wait a while for the hotter water to reach the shower. And, if you decide to try and shorten that wait by adjusting the user adjustable set point higher in temperature you'll waste even more energy every day.
*******
IMHO the device seems like a poor solution for a minor nuisance problem.
If I felt that waiting for warm water in my home was that big a problem, I'd do it the right way by installing a thermosyphon system incorporating a separate return pipe, with good insulation on both pipes.
Just my .02.
Jeff
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Just curious: I know you can get point-of-use water heaters (basically just conventional water heaters with a very tiny tank, 3 gallons or less, usually electric), on-demand tankless water heaters for the whole house, and even instant hot water dispensers.
Is there any low-output reasonably low cost point-of-use water re-heaters that migth solve the OPs problem? Something that could raise the temp a few degrees for just a single faucet. Since it would only run until the hotter water from the basement arrived, even electric would probably cost little to run.
Not that I'd pay good money to solve what I see as a minor annoyance, but the OP may want think otherwise.
-Kevin
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"Is there any low-output reasonably low cost point-of-use water re-heaters that migth solve the OPs problem? Something that could raise
the temp a few degrees for just a single faucet. "
I've never seen one. I think the problem boils down to this. Someone earleir pointed out that a reasonable estimate of the water in the pipes could be a half gallon for the 10 seconds or so it takes to make its way through the pipe. So, raising a half gallon of water from say 55 degree basement temp to say 120 or so in 10 seconds is on the order of what kind of heater you would need. Think about how long even a big 240V burner on an electric stove takes to do that and it doesn't sound practical.
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I considered putting a 15gal electric HW heater near the bathroom in series with the output of a 30gal gas heater in the garage. initially the water used would be heated by the local electric heater and cold standing water in the pipes would be mixed within and reheated. Eventually hot from the main tank would be filling the smaller tank and it would power down.
I didn't like the space this system would take (plus it will still loose heat) so I will eventually install an on demand recirculation pump and return line. Instead of operating on a timer, I would manually prime the hot pipe with a buttom just before I use the water. I think this is a good compromise between saving water and power. No sense in heating my crawlspace all day while I am at work. Alternatively, I could wire the pump power to the bathroom light fixture for passive, manual operation. You don't need much for a return line, 3/8" copper tube or PEX would be acceptable and would reduce the number of soldered fittings.
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"1. How much energy you will waste keeping the water in those pipes warm all the time. Do the calculations for the additional heat loss from all
that uninsulated piping (For almost all of 24 hours every day.) and you'll be shocked, just shocked, at the number of BTUs that adds up to,
all of which has to be supplied by whatever energy source you are paying for to fuel your water heater.
2. If you want to draw a glass of "cold water", you'll have to run (and
waste) water while you wait for the warm water to empty out of the cold
water pipes.
3. 80 degree F water is likely gonna feel too cold to step under in a shower, you'll still have to wait a while for the hotter water to reach
the shower. And, if you decide to try and shorten that wait by adjusting the user adjustable set point higher in temperature you'll waste even more energy every day.
IMHO the device seems like a poor solution for a minor nuisance problem. "
All good points. Some of the claims made on the site are dubious at best. Like that it saves energy. I would think it would actually use more energy because as you pointed out, you now have a long pipeline of hot water constantly circulating. I've seen other devices that I believe would be better. Those devices are similar, but use a small pump that is actuated by a push button or timer control to circulate the water. That way it;s only circulated when called for or at certain times of the day when you are likely to want hot water, ie early morning or evenings. And by using a pump, they claim the hot water is moved around faster than it would take by opening a faucet.
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Collect the cold water in a bucket for flushing the toilet. Tom
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I dunno if this helps but when we moved to an old house (40 yrs old) warm water would come only after running the tap for some time. Soon after the water would go cold. Two storey house also.
One day I noticed that the washing maschine was using warm water (it's OK to do that). I changed it to use cold water. From that day water has come warmer much sooner and stays warm longer. I haven't changed anything in the boiler. I even changed the washing maschine to use warm water again and sure enough taps turned cold as before.
You case is probably "Your mileage may vary" -situation though.
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"One day I noticed that the washing maschine was using warm water (it's OK to do that). I changed it to use cold water. From that day water has come warmer much sooner and stays warm longer. I haven't changed anything in the boiler. I even changed the washing maschine to use warm water again and sure enough taps turned cold as before. "
Are you saying that this is was the cause and fix for taking a long time for hot water whether or not the washing machine was actually running? If so, that makes no sense.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

The problem went away. I was rather puzzled since the washing machine was not allways on and taking water. It could be also that the boiler had colder water and up to that day had not warmed up completely.
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