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post #1 of (permalink) Old 09-10-2005, 08:40 PM Thread Starter
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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.
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 09-11-2005, 12:16 AM
 
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Re: OT Plumbing problem

Check your pressure on one of your watering outlets that are used to hook up a garden hose.

You can get a pressure checker device at home depot in the water splinker section

If it is less than 60 you might have a problem with water getting to your house.

If you have lime in one place then your pipes are full of it.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 09-11-2005, 04:16 AM
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Re: OT Plumbing problem

PVC and Cpvc are your friend and easy to work with too!!

We had coper lines and they were plugged when we mooved in. When we remodeled we replaced with all CPVC lines and did fine till the Galvanised supply line to the house is almost rusted shut. HAPPY. Now I have to dig it up and replace it likely with CPVC.

This may not be a correct method but it worked for us!
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 09-11-2005, 06:28 AM
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Re: OT Plumbing problem

That situation you described with a second water use drops pressure/volume/flow is pretty close to the normal way a house acts with 1/2" through out. It wasen't until we moved into our current house that I actually saw/felt the difference with 3/4" copper. Now when taking a shower and someone flushes a toilet the pressure drops a little but it's through both the hot and cold sides. Perhaps your right about the water heater. Is it plugged? How new is it? I think when the water line comes into a house it splits pretty quick to go to the water heater. When I've replaced water heaters in the past I've installed unions on the hot and cold sides to make it easier to replace the heater next time. You could cut the copper lines at the tank and use these points to pump the vinegar into the system and open the closest valve first and let it flow til it's clean then work your way to the farthest valve out. If you have an electric water(cheeper to replace than gas) and it's more than 5 years old and you suspect it is plugged you might just get a new on. If it's gas maybe try the vinegar first? BTW how much is a 55 gal. drum of vinegar? ALSO vinegar comes in different strengths. I think the pickling kind is the strongest. It goes by grains. When I worked for United airlines on the over night services of any Airbus aircraft we used to pour 1/2 gal. of vinegar into each toilet. There were sensors in the toilet that led to a controller of course and if we didn't keep the sensors clean we have to change them. We would get several cases(4 gal. ea.) per week of the strong stuff. Good luck with things.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 09-11-2005, 06:47 AM Thread Starter
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Re: OT Plumbing problem

The static pressure is good; it's a flow restriction problem.

Replacing the pipes is not a reasonable option; the entire ceiling in the basement is plastered.

The main lines through the middle of the house are 3/4". The branches off there are 1/2". One 1/2" set feeds three bathrooms, which IS a problem, but the kitchen and laundry come off the 3/4" well before there, and the laundry causes the biggest problems. The water heater is only a few years old and the problem didn't change when I put it in.
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 09-11-2005, 11:20 AM
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Re: OT Plumbing problem

The vinegar shouldn't affect the solder joints, unless they are defective and the only thing sealing them is the mineral deposits from over the years. You may get a few leaks.

If possible, try to localize where the restriction might be, then do only that part.


OT - sort of.
We were looking at some new tract houses - I noticed they were using PVC in the walls etc. But the line from the street to the house was a clear flexible thin plastic hose - didn't even look good enough to use as a garden hose.
Is this something new?

It's near Palm Springs, earthqauke country (10 & 62)- but we do have gophers, rabbits, chipmonks and mice.

What a surprice that poor little gopher's going to get when he bites into it!

Is this normal or do they have the best building
inspectors money can buy?
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 09-11-2005, 01:14 PM Thread Starter
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Re: OT Plumbing problem

Never heard of clear plastic supply line. It's probably a cheap alternative to soft copper. More resistant to ground movements, unless caused by critters with sharp teeth. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

I did a rough calculation of the volume in the pipes, figuring two pipes, one 1/2", one 3/4", each twice the length of the house, and came up with only about 5 gallons. If I exclude the water heaters and all the plumbing in the shop, which is only a few years old, that would be a mighty cheap experiment. I think I'll try it next time we go out of town for a weekend.
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 09-11-2005, 01:18 PM
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Re: OT Plumbing problem

My wife used to work for a law firm in Almo, CA, just east of S.F. Their main business was housing construction defects. Lots of them. Some areas were growing so much that they just couldn't keep up. And I personally think that some areas just didn't want to spend money on any level for building inspectors. More money for other things.
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 09-11-2005, 06:56 PM
 
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Re: OT Plumbing problem

That clear plastic is the new craz in Phoenix,I cant remember the name of it for the life of me!They just use copper for the stub-outs and build a manifold and run the hose.Its is quicker and cheaper?The tool they use expands the hose over the copper at the stub-outs,no solder joints,they say it last 50 years,then I guess repipe!I hate to say it,repipe!
Dan
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 09-12-2005, 08:53 AM
 
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Re: OT Plumbing problem

[ QUOTE ]
Now I have to dig it up and replace it likely with CPVC.

This may not be a correct method but it worked for us!

[/ QUOTE ]

Replacing the indoor plumbing with CPVC is a good its used primarily for hot water in Schedule 40.
How ever to use this out side under ground I would suggest to use schedule 80 pvc the dark grey pipe, (not the light grey electrical conduit) You should be able to pick it up at any industrial plumbing supplier cost is just a few cents higher and it will be there 100 years from now. Also the schedule 80 will be way more resistant to critters chewing on it.
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