Plumbing in the Home/Not enough hot water


I have a friend who replaced his electric hot water heater in his tri-level home after it quit working. I am a professional handyman and asked several questions regarding the install as Ive not seen the work. Anyways he says the hot water flow is fine on the lower and mid levels but only puts out warm water to the upper bathroom. He says he has set the temp all the way(not the thing to do) and it did nothing. He then went and replaced the hot water heater again with the same results. He says it a 3/4 line running from the hot water heater into the wall so I dont think its a volume issue as flow is excellent. Im looking for ideas that  arent coming to me as he says it wasnt an issue before he had to change it. Thanks for your time.

Hello Mike,

There are number of things that can have an impact on hot water delivery. Sometimes it's a problem with the piping, especially if it's older galvanized steel piping. This type of piping is to build up mineral deposits and corrosion on the interior which effectively reduces that pipes ability to deliver at an acceptable flow rate. This frequently makes itself evident on the hot waterside first.

There could also be a problem with the pictures in that upper bathroom. Things like clogged aerators or showerheads can reduce the flow rate to such an extent that the water cools off too much before it actually reaches the fixture.

A possible solution is to install a point of use recirculation pump up in that bathroom, usually under the sink cabinet. Grunfos and other pump manufacturers offer ready-made kits for this.

Elevation of the demand (the upper bathroom fixtures) also plays a part. The water pressure and flow rate drops off as the elevation increases above the supply point which is usually considered to be the water meter.

Good Luck,

Plumbing in the Home

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Dana Bostick


Pretty much any residential plumbing questions. For "item specific" details such as a specific model of fixture, I will need to research and there may not be any useful information available. Note: I live and work in Southern California. We do not, as a rule, use hot water or steam heating systems, oil fired boilers or private water wells so my knowledge in those areas is pretty limited. There are others here on AllExerts that can probably answer those questions better.


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