Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Belleville, Illinois
Thanked 22 Times in 17 Posts
OT Plumbing problem
My house is 50 years old and has all hard copper supply pipes. When we moved in fifteen years ago the cold side of a bathroom faucet only put out a dribble. I took things apart back to the wall where I found the elbow almost completely closed off with lime deposits. I snaked it out with a drill and choke cable and it now runs fine.
The current problem is that both the hot and cold supplies to one end of the house, that feed the kitchen, laundry and two bathrooms, seems to be restricted. Any single use is OK, but a second use drops the flow dramatically. Flushing the toilet in one bathroom, or rinsing dishes in the kitchen, while taking a shower can almost scald. If the washing machine kicks on while showering you might as well shut the shower off until the washer is filled.
So my thought is that there might be similar lime buildups elsewhere in the system, probably before the water heater. Since there's no way to find them, I'm thinking about filling the entire system with vinegar - acetic acid - for a weekend, and then flushing it out. In that amount of time the vinegar should break up or dissolve any deposits in the pipes. The bubbler screens would all have to be removed and cleaned, but that's no big deal.
I tested vinegar on a soldered joint, and couldn't see that it did anything to the solder but shine it up a little.
Anybody ever hear of such a project? I can get a 55 gallon drum of vinegar for a whole lot less than replacing all the plumbing would cost.