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Rick
Rick, HVAC Supervisor
Category: HVAC
Satisfied Customers: 20955
Experience:  40+ yrs. experience as a licensed oil & gas technician.
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Rick, we are a three storey building, and we're not getting

Customer Question

Hi Rick, we are a three storey building, and we're not getting any hot water on the 3rd floor. The water heater is located on the first floor.
On the top floor, there are two bathrooms - both have sinks, a toilet, and a bath tub. When I turn on the valve for the toilet, in one of the two bathrooms, only then I get hot water to shower. Otherwise, there is little hot water. I can get a picture of the water heater.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: HVAC
Expert:  Rick replied 1 year ago.
Do you have hot water in the sink? how many handles does the shower valve have? do you have a re-circulating line for the hot water?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Little hot water in the sink, not sure about recirculating line
Expert:  Rick replied 1 year ago.
Please explain " Little hot water in the sink". You didn't answer my other question, how many handles does the shower valve have? 1? 2? 3? if you have a re-circ line there will be a small pump on that line usually at the water heater.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The shower has one handle. But I can guarantee that that's not the problem because we had they replaced a year ago for both bathros, and when I switch over to the hot side, hot water comes...but it's more so lukewarm
Expert:  Rick replied 1 year ago.
Has it always been this way?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
It's been this way for the past year. It started as something small but became consistent
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Maybe it's the feed valve...can I send a picture?
Expert:  Rick replied 1 year ago.
You can post a picture here by clicking on the paper clip icon in the tool bar at the top of this dialogue box. You can only post from a PC or a Mac not a phone or a tablet. If that doesn’t work for you then you can upload a pic to a file sharing service likehttps://photos.google.com/ OR https://www.dropbox.comand post the “share” link to your picture here or you can email the pic to customer service but the last option can take quite a while to get to me. Click on the CONTACT US link to contact customer service. http://ww2.justanswer.com/contact-us
Expert:  Rick replied 1 year ago.
One other thing, you say the problem has been happening for a year and also that the valve was replaced a year ago. Did the new valve ever give you adequate hot water?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The pictures are coming. Yes, the new valves gave us hot water fine initally for the first few months. But it started to get worse.
Expert:  Rick replied 1 year ago.
The only thing that sounds likely is a problem with a re-circ system check valve which is allowing cold water to back up into the hot water line. What you're telling me is that only 1 floor is having a problem, the floor furthest from the water heater, and the problem is temp not flow.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I've attached one picture, but it's not coming.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ah there
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I don't know if that helps
Expert:  Rick replied 1 year ago.
That's a picture of the gas valve on the water heater. Unless this heater only serves the problem bathroom(s) that's not the culprit. Can you give me a wider shot showing the entire tank and all the piping nearby?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Expert:  Rick replied 1 year ago.
This water heater serves the whole building or just the problem floor?
Expert:  Rick replied 1 year ago.
If it serves the whole building how many units does it serve and what is the size of the tank (or the brand & model number)?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Just the top floor is the problem. It serves the whole building, otherwise. The entire building excluding the top floor has 4 fixtures that it serves. The top floor has 6.
I can't say if increasing the temperature on the water heater is the problem - that did the trick - but I find it unnecessary to change the temperature to extreme heat to get warm water flowing to the top.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
That would have to be done repeatedly 10-20 mins before showering to get warm water
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I will get the brand model and size in a second here.
Expert:  Rick replied 1 year ago.
It's possible the gas valve has lost it's calibration. I'll have to assume the heater is sized adequately since you haven't provided the model info I requested. I take it this is a multi unit building so another possibility is that the building demand has changed, either the timing or overall hot water demand and the heater is not adequate to meet the demand. All things being equal a faulty gas valve (your first picture) would be a likely culprit based on the info you've provided
Expert:  Rick replied 1 year ago.
6 fixtures on the top floor but only 4 on the other 2 floors?! So the other 2 floors are not residential units? Have you checked the water temp on the lower floors when the hot water is inadequate on the top floor?
I have to leave for about an hour. I'll respond when I return
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Yes, I've checked the water temp on the lower floors when the hot water is inadequate on the top floor - and they are just fine. They get hot enough to have a comfortable shower. If by residential units, you mean, two other apartments - nope. This is one house around 2000 sq ft. The water heater serves the entire building but the problem is only on the top floor - top floor has 6 fixtures (2 sinks, 2 bathtubs, and 2 toilets). Lower floors have in total 4 fixtures - sink, toilet, kitchen sink, and the thing you attach your gardening hose to (it's located just outside the door).
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok, I have to go to work now. I'll be back in 8 hours. (at 5:30 pm PST)
Expert:  Rick replied 1 year ago.
Ok, the tank is way too small for essentially 3 residential units. So if you jack up the temp then the available hot water increases. There is nothing you've mentioned or shown me in pics that would account for the problem you describe except that the tank is seriously undersized. We would install that size tank for 1 unit certainly not 3. I know the next question is, why did it work before. All I can tell you is it's just blind luck that it ever could meet the demands of 3 units. The only explanation I have is that the demand (cycle) changed. The only thing you can do short of installing a bigger heater is to jack up the tank temp and install a tempering/mixing valve on the hot water line out of the tank.
Expert:  Rick replied 1 year ago.
The mixer will mix some cold water with the outgoing hot to bring the water temp to the building down to a safe temp.

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