Plumbing Questions? Ask a Plumbing Expert.
Mark :This is a tough one but, I would open every fixture in the house hot and cold and leave it open until you get flow out of something. I think you're correct in regards ***** ***** toilet's flush valve/ flapper needing replacement being unrelated. When you have flow to a fixture, shut it off to a drip and let it drip. The 3rd floor shower I would leave open hot and cold and throw some heat in the utility room if it isn't already. Do you have a basement or crawl space underneath the house?JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :No basement or crawl space at all, everywhere in the house is heated right nowMark :Then open all the fixtures you can and leave them open until you get a some flow. Hopefully, the pipes will thaw enough and give you some water. I've been hearing about the freeze over there and I just can't believe how severe it's been for you. Open all the cabinet doors on every sink also.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :Is there any way to estimate which pipes or what general area they might be frozen? I know that generally speaking we usually see more flow downstairs, we have plenty of space heaters etc so I would like to concentrate them where they might make a difference?JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :cabinet doors are open already, kickplates off under cabinets in kitchen too. Those are the only pipes we can see and can see maybe 4 foot of pipe and then it goes into a wall, no idea where it goes from there!also does it sound as if we shouldnt have a tank in our loft? I've been googling all the types of plumbing systems and I'm confused, I cant see anything in our loft but it is in an L shape so possible it is out of sight, but I really doubt it!I only ask as part of loft I can't see is above a bedroom which is ALWAYS cold, if something up there was frozen it wouldn;t surprise me much!seems off house is so hot I can't sleep yet pipes still don't seem to thaw ;)seems "odd" I should have typed ...Mark :Generally, the pipes that freeze first are closest to outside walls so I would concentrate on those. I wish I could physically see this so I could better assist you and typically It's my understanding that yes your tanks are usually in the loft.Mark :Do you have a drain on the tank on the second floor?JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :Not sure, what would the drain look like?I have one large tank, in an airing cupboard. There is a smaller tank higher up which is red and has a gauge on it. Lots of pipes in and out of hereMark :If you have a tank above the bedroom where it's not accessible and it's cold, that could be the culprit.The larger tank should have a drain that a hose attaches to.The smaller red tank is probably an expansion tank for the storage tank.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :from that cupboard I have 4 pipes running up to the third floor going in to the ceiling not sure that helps muchlet me check for a drainMark :The pipes that go into the ceiling, is it conditioned above that ceiling or cold?JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :warm up there as its 3rd floor where my office isI don't see anything a hose could attach to do they really put tanks in places where they can't be accessed?e.g. our loft?The pipes that go up are grey/plastic and are different from all the ones going in/out of the cupboard/closet - those ones are all copper by the looks of thingsMark :No valve or drain? Is the storage tank warm? Tanks should always be accessible.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :storage tank is warmish, nice and warm in that closet too. There are quite a few different connections of different types, I have no real idea what they are - can I upload a pic on this?Mark :If you can feel the pipes check them for temperature with your hand. If you have a camera please do. Take as many pics as you think relevant.Also check the temperature of the pipes coming off the storage tank for warmth.Make sure all sink faucets are on while you're doing this.Take your pics in the highest resolution setting.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :ok pics taken one sec while I put them somewhere you can see them
Click on the tree icon and upload them.
Definitely a hot water storage tank. Open the valve with the green handle and see if you hear water.
JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :wouldnt it be open already? And presumably open is turn anti clockwise?Mark :No. Open is parallel with the pipe.It should turn counter-clockwise.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :ok one secMark :Standing by.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :I heard water gurgling anyway ;)Mark :You have flow. That's a good thing. Are all your faucets open?JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :Yes, sorry 3 floor house takes a whileMark :No hurry. I just want to get you hot water.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :should I open bath/shower too?Mark :Open the green handled valve again and let it run for a bit.Yes bath and shower.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :can you define a bit? 30 seconds? minute? less/ more? ;)JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :and am I draining hot water tank here or something else? if so should I make sure hot water heating part of boiler doesn;t come on?Mark :Leave the bath and shower open until you get water if, you get water.Mark :If it's gas or electric, yes turn them off.I see what looks like another valve attached to a stainless steel flex. Is that water also?If so, open it also and see if you get water.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :that ones goes in to the red tank with the flex on itI think that is your expansion tank. Open that valve and see if you hear water.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :I opened the green one for about 15 seconds, (slightly worried I would drain tank and hot water heater would come back on!) and lots of gurgling running water but nothing from tapsMark :This may take some time but leave everything open until you get water somewhere.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :ok opened the valve on flex couldn't hear anything at allJACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :The green valve excluded. I'm not sure what the function of that valve is. Just wanted to check it out. What kind of noise?JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :still only water in main kitchen tap, I havent turned that faucet on by the way as I know cold comes out and its mixer tapMark :You have water at the kitchen?JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :noise could best be descriped as a kind of rumble then a bumpYes have water at main inlet always have thoughMark :Open the hot and cold and let it run for awhile about half open.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :kitchen one? okMark :Is the kitchen closest to the main entering the house?Mark :Yes the kitchen faucet.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :yes, kitchen is the main one at least I assume so, that is where we can turn the water off inside the house it always has cold water from that tap which I guess is better than nothing ;)Mark :Check the pipe on top of the water tank and see if it's warm. Well we know the problem is within the house and not outside. Run the hot also on the kitchen faucet.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :ok, this is the the pipe on very top of the tank? in pic 3?Mark :That's the one. Copper pipe.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :not hot, not cold either...Mark :Not good. Do you have hot water at the kitchen faucet?JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :no hot water anywhere last I checked, hang on I'll run down and see now to be fair though, hot water has probably not been on for about 7 or 8 hours now, its on a timerMark :That's fine. I just want to know if you have flow.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :no water coming out of any hot tap currently, kitchen or otherwise only tap with water is cold from kitchen faucetMark :OK. Leave the hot side wide open and let the cold water run in the kitchen sink about half volume. Bypass the timer and start heating the water.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :stupid thing is a mixer tap so best I can do in kitchen is probably half/half actually I'll work something outMark :Leave everything else open hot and cold. Do the toilets flush and refill? Then, open it half way. Better than nothing.Flush the toilets regularly is they work.If they work.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :Toilets dont flush either, they will start refilling if water comes back as they have been flushedOkay, came on anyway (timer was for 8 which it is now)JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :I checked all the pipessec let me upload another oneMark :Standing by.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :actually I dont need to pic 1 where the green valve is that pipe coming out of the tank, where the blue ring is, that one is warmjust warm atm, not hotMark :That's good and it should get warmer now. Whichever fixture is closest to the water heater make sure the hot side is wide open.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :would it go down or up from the heater? or on same floor?main bathroom is closest physically on that floorJACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :below it is downstairs wcJACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :I have them both open hot/cold anywayMark :The top of the heater should be the hot water supply to the house.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :so the one on top of the tank should get warm now?Mark :The pipe with the blue ring should be the cold water into the heater. Yes the one on top should be getting warm. Heat rises.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :hmmmJACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :the one with the blue ring that pipe is getting pretty hot now the one on top, no changeMark :Do you have a valve anywhere on the tank to bleed any air out?JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :where would you expect that to be? top... bottom? side? lolMark :Top.I'll checkMark :It's a long shot.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :about 3/4 of the way up on rhs you can see in pic 1 where pipe goes in to that big black partJACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :that, the blue ring and the pipe coming out of top are only things I can really see on it up the topthat has T8P relief valve written on it, that part is actually getting pretty warm there tooJACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :should I turn off my kitchen faucet by the way?Mark :Open the relief valve and bleed the air or water out. No, leave the kitchen sink on and check if the water is getting warm.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :that pipe where it is black ring etc, comes down to a pipe that sort of stopsMark :That's your T and P valve.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :and then theres a gap and a kind of cup below it, where the pipe carries onMark :Perfect. open it up until you get water.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :okcounter clockwise?JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :also I assume I can't break anything badly by doing this? :)Mark :I believe so. Different type then here in the states. You shouldn't hurt anything and they should be tested periodically anyways.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :okI did that for about a minute, lots of gurgling, there is a driblle of water coming out in to the bottom pipe/cupI should keep going? or that is enough?It is like I can hear every few seconds a massive bubble coming upMark :Let it rip. We're trying to get water moving any way we can.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :just keep doing that then?Mark :Yes until you get good flow.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :ok. I should still have taps open and kitchen tap running at same time while I do this?Mark :Absolutely.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :okMark :We want to get hot water to the kitchen sink below the heater and the shower above.Mark :The pipe on top should get hot when you bleed the air out of the T and P valveJACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :ok did that for good 5 minutes, no more than dribble came out at any time, still sounds like every 5 seconds a bubble comes upJACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :in the meantime I found two more pipes hidden behind stuff at the bottomJACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :one says primary flow one says primary returnMark :OK. A couple of things are going on here. If there's no pressure out of the tank, then the pipes are frozen between the kitchen sink and the water heater. An airlock is possible also but, I think that is less likely based on the weather you're having. Leave the shower and tub wide open on both the hot and cold sides until you get water back. Let the kitchen faucet run slowly until it thaws in the rest of the house. Other than that and not knowing exactly how the house is piped, I'm not sure what else you can do. It's a waiting game now until the pipes thaw and hopefully a pipe hasn't burst somewhere from the freeze.One other thing. Are the primary return and supply pipes warm that you discovered?JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :ok, so I should concentrate any space heaters etc between the kitchen sink and the storage heater? I've just worked out that the storage tank is above our garage, which is internal to the house but not heatedand yes both return and supply are very hot pipes right no there are no exposed pipes in the garage, but that might partly explain why the house is so damned warm for 2 days but no thaw yet?Mark :The supply pipe to the heater is is in the ceiling of the garage? Starting to make more sense now and I think you're correct.The pipes are very hot probably because no water is making up in the storage tank.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :I'm not sure if its in the garage or in the utliity room, the supply and return pipes both go downwards to the ground floor levelI think that if I'm right, that is either in to the garage or in to the utility room beside the garage wallMark :I think that's where the problem is.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :some water must be going to storage tank I think? because that valve 3/4 of the way up the pipe is hot there too?but with thos return and flow pipes being so warm, wouldnt they heat up that space even if it was close to the garage?Mark :That could be the heat convecting back because it has nowhere else to go.Hot water freezes before cold water so, not necessarily.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :so I should concentrate any heater etc towards the garage - and around that area? water would come from the main to that tank first or go elsewhere?Mark :I just don't know to be honest because I'm not sure how it's piped. My educated guess is yes it should feed the boiler and tank first and that any pipe in the garage may be frozen. Throw heat in the garage if you think there's any pipe in there at all.Let the kitchen faucet continue to run just a little more than a drip and leave the shower and tub faucets wide open.JACUSTOMER-0pbi3cod- :
ok, circle is the storage tank
boiler is in the utility below
if I put a heater in the garage, heater in the utility and heater in the hallway downstairs, that sounds like my best plan?
Where does the water service come in?
kitchen, roughly where the N is in kitchen in my sketch
I would concentrate the heat in the garage and kitchen. The utility room is plenty warm correct?
The hallway wouldn't hurt either.
updated, box with / in it are sinks, B is for boiler the utility room is warm, but the back door is there gets opened a lot downstairs WC always very warm as it has its own radiator
Heat that entire area then and be patient. Hopefully it'll thaw out. I assume the garage is gets real cold.
yup, theres snow on the ground in there that blew in under the door... so its real cold in there
Thanks so much Mark
You're very welcome and I hope you guys get a break from the arctic blast you're getting.
no water yet but hopefully you gave me the areas to concentrate on if there is anything I can do to speed this up other than waiting till Monday when it is supposed to get warmer (although only to around freezing)
I hope I helped. It's after 1:00 AM here and I have to get up at 6:00 AM so I'm going to have to call it a night. It's been a pleasure and thanks for the opportunity to help. Happy Holidays! Mark
Happy holidays :)