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  • confusing recirculating hot water/sediment

    I have been in this house for 10 years. I am on a well, and have two hot water tanks set up to work in parallel. I am getting a sediment discharge in my hot water, only from my upstairs faucets and showers. The hot water tanks were extremly dirty and it took several drainings and flushings to clear most of the debris. Apparently, I have a recirculating system, as I notice copper pipes entering the drain valves at the bottom of the tank. I see no pumps anywhere on the system, nor have I heard anything "pumping" since I have been in this house. The recirculating pipes branch off in two opposite directions to either side of the house. The recirculating system seems to work fairly well on one side of the house (although lately nowhere as good as in the past). I see no positive results on the other side of the house, where I traced that circulating line. Indeed that side of the house, be it upstairs or downstairs, never showed any benefits of instant hot water.



    The recirculating lines are very hot for about 10-15 feet as they join the bottom of the hot water tanks. I see no check valve anywhere. I suspect I am getting backflow up the recirculating pipes with hot water off the bottom of the tanks. Is it possible that sediment off the bottom of the tank could be pushed up to my second floor faucets via the recirculating lines causing the sediment discharge? The upstairs faucets in the master bathroom with the fastest hot water, discharge the most debris. However, in a second upstairs bathroom there is discharge from one sink faucet and the bathtub faucet (the instant hot water, if installed in both faucets works poorly, if at all). Interestingly, I see no discharge from the second sink faucet in that bathroom. A third bathroom upstairs discharges in a similar fashion to this latter bathroom, but the instant hot water appears to work (this is on the same side of the house as the master bathroom, and must feed off the same branch of that end of the recirculator. The other bathroom, that works poorly, if at all, is at the far end of the house and has a long (25-50 foot) horizontal run to the water heater. I don't see how that could work properly on a gravity based system ? In summary, how do I stop this sediment discharge, and secondarily, how do I fix my recirculating system on the other side of the house? Thank you

  • #2
    Re: confusing recirculating hot water/sediment

    Can you post lots of pics so we can offer the best help? Take pics of everything, even if you think it's unimportant.
    Buy cheap, buy twice.

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    • #3
      Re: confusing recirculating hot water/sediment

      There is a possibilility that your house was designed with a gravity feed recirc system,that may be why you don't see a pump.These systems still use check valves.Sounds like your second bath's hot supply branch is too far off the "loop".

      Your sediment problem.....What does sediment look like?
      If it was my house,I at first thought would,flush the water heaters.Any other similar symptoms with the houses in your area.

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      • #4
        Re: confusing recirculating hot water/sediment

        Pictures would be great. I agree with Adam, sounds like a gravity feed loop, remember the drawing on the napkin at the cheesecake factory adam?? in thousand oaks?? steves gravity loop?

        Does the line run all the way up to the attic and go back down?? The loop won't work unless it goes goes up to the attic and back down the walls.

        As far as the sediment, you being on a well is a very good reason to install a filter system.
        sigpic

        Robert

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        • #5
          Re: confusing recirculating hot water/sediment

          Originally posted by westcoastplumber View Post
          Pictures would be great. I agree with Adam, sounds like a gravity feed loop, remember the drawing on the napkin at the cheesecake factory adam?? in thousand oaks?? steves gravity loop?

          Does the line run all the way up to the attic and go back down?? The loop won't work unless it goes goes up to the attic and back down the walls.

          As far as the sediment, you being on a well is a very good reason to install a filter system.
          This raises the issue of the pheonominon of forum cross over.Many things that happen with the forum happen in my daily travels,many things that happen in my travels are discussed within a short period thereafter.

          I mention speeding on the forum,I get pulled over and get a warning.

          Steve educates me on gravity loops,a few weeks later a friend tells me he finds a natural one when his pump fails.

          Rick works on a house down the street from one that I am on the day before I get there 30 miles from my house.

          There are many,many others.The freaky coincidences are uncanny.

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          • #6
            Re: confusing recirculating hot water/sediment

            First, I have no idea where the recirculating pipes run. I did not install the system. In fact, I had no idea there was a recirculating system until I read something on a board, and saw the pipes in the bottom of the drain valves. I always noticed that my hot water worked great in my master bathroom, but never knew why. Now I realize I must have some type of recirculating system. I can trace the pipes to the end of my basement, and then the one pipe disappears going upstairs, the other pipe disappears into a built in shelving/storage system at the far end of the house. I have never seen water pipes up in the attic. The system works fine in my master bathroom, and is non existent on the other end of the house. My biggest concern is the sediment that discharges through the hot water on the second floor. Can this be from a backflow problem ? I see no checkvalves anywhere, nor do I see/hear any pumps.

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            • #7
              Re: confusing recirculating hot water/sediment

              the sediment is small/tiny black bits. Why none of this from my first floor supply faucets?

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              • #8
                Re: confusing recirculating hot water/sediment

                Pictures would be great.

                As far as thge sediment, you need a filter on the incomming house line, then flush the system again, and your problem will go away.

                If you indeed do have a gravity feed recirculation loop, the sediment will exit the bottom of the tank and be feed into the water system.

                I believe a filter is your best bet...anyone else??
                sigpic

                Robert

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                • #9
                  Re: confusing recirculating hot water/sediment

                  I flushed/drained the tank several times , but this had no effect on the sediment in the upstairs hot water.

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                  • #10
                    Re: confusing recirculating hot water/sediment

                    Westcoast plumber: will the sediment leave the bottom of the tanks via the recirculating lines and work itself all the way up to the upstairs faucets or is it somehow entering the second floor lines and contaminating the hot water lines?

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                    • #11
                      Re: confusing recirculating hot water/sediment

                      Originally posted by rcatty View Post
                      Westcoast plumber: will the sediment leave the bottom of the tanks via the recirculating lines and work itself all the way up to the upstairs faucets or is it somehow entering the second floor lines and contaminating the hot water lines?

                      Technically the loop should be tied tot he farthest fixture, so if your upstairs faucet is at the furthest point from the tanks, yes.
                      sigpic

                      Robert

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                      • #12
                        Re: confusing recirculating hot water/sediment

                        So does it sound like the sediment is a product of the recirculation line, via a backflow problem ? When I turn on my hot water faucet could the water be drawn from the recirculating line rather than the correct hot water supply line? Is there a way to troubleshoot this?

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                        • #13
                          Re: confusing recirculating hot water/sediment

                          Your sediment is from the tank build up, possible dip tube, nasty water, possible galvanized in the system, do you have a picture of the sediment?

                          possible problems with the fixture?? any one of these can cause sediment

                          Need pictures to truly give an accurate answer. I believe the sediment is from the well, the sediment location is caused by the gravity loop, really, truly need pics of the sediment and the tank set up.
                          sigpic

                          Robert

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                          • #14
                            Re: confusing recirculating hot water/sediment

                            Originally posted by rcatty View Post
                            So does it sound like the sediment is a product of the recirculation line, via a backflow problem ? When I turn on my hot water faucet could the water be drawn from the recirculating line rather than the correct hot water supply line? Is there a way to troubleshoot this?

                            The only way the water can be directly taken from the recirculation loop is if for some reason the main feed was closed, do to a closed check valve or gate valve. very highly not possible though.

                            A circulation loop is just a return line for the hot water, makes a complete circle back to the water heater, instead of an ending point at the last fiuxture.

                            way to test, close the 1/2" line coming from the bottom of the tanks, hopefully there are isolation valves, and then turn the water on at the fixtures.
                            sigpic

                            Robert

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                            • #15
                              Re: confusing recirculating hot water/sediment

                              Ratty,I think your hot is drawing off the line at the bottom of the tanks.

                              Need a check valve on it.All tanks have sediment.You can flush the tanks today into a bucket and tell us what you find.When they plumbed it I hope they left you a drain spigot/hose bib.

                              Pictures of piping?

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