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Hot Brown Water, but from only one faucet

dc5719's picture


I have a problem that I have no idea what it would be.  Here is some background on the house.  My home is two story, pier and beam built in 2000.  I have two gas 50 gallon Lochinvar hot water heaters, still the orginal, with a hot water circulating pump (which was replaced in 2012).  The design is water is drawn from each heater equally for the whole house.  There are only 2 people my wife and I living here.  Our master bath is large and living in Dallas TX no need to heat floors, but during these cold days my wife prefers using a smaller guest bathroom with her little space heater.  All bedrooms are on second floor.  The bathroom she is using is were my problem lies.  

Only, I mean ONLY the tub / shower hot water value when turned on what comes out is water that is dirt brown or no offense to UPS but UPS BROWN.  Sink in the same bath hot water is crystal clear.  NO other hot or cold faucet in the house does this.  I have outstanding water pressure, about 80 psi.  I use 6.6 gallons per min and my temp dial setting is just about set at medium and I have about 115 to 120 coming out of my utility sink in my garage which is about 6 feet from the heaters.  

I am far from being a plumber which I realized that about 25 years ago single in a townhouse when I tried to impress the new neighbor (female of course) by replacing her kitchen sink.  It took one day to demo, replace two cabinets, title back splash, install new light, run new pipes, set sink / faucet and ONE day to give myself a 2 inch cut on forehead and burn 3 fingers trying to solder 4 yes 4 couplers.  Thank God for SharkBites.  So let just say I know enough to be dangerous with plumbing.

Thanks for any advice or scratch your head and get a good chuckle like i did writing this and thinking about the good old days!


It's simply sediment in the (post #209337, reply #1 of 2)

It's simply sediment in the rarely-used pipes.  The circulating pump keeps the main pipes clean, but the pipes running off of the main trunk pipes can collect sediment, and likely this particular pipe is positioned such tat it collects more than most.

The best way to clear it is to somehow introduce air in the system and let it cause sputtering/surges through that fixture until the water runs clear.  You can sorta do this yourself by shutting off the water (turn water heaters off), and partially draining the system, but would take several tries at best.  A better way to do it is to use an air compressor to blow air into the system at some point.

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

iron vs copper (post #209337, reply #2 of 2)

Does your house have galvanized iron pipe for your supply runs, or copper?

If the former, it's probably rust sediment in the seldom used branch lines.

If you have copper supply tubing, there's a chance that someone used a threaded iron fitting in your plumbing run instead of using a threaded brass or copper fitting. Galvanized iron fittings are sometimes used as place holders when the plumbing is roughed in, but they should be swapped out for copper/brass when the fixtures are finish plumbed.

Pull the escutcheon plates that cover the shower valve as well as the shower arm. Use a magnet attached to a stick to see if the magnet is attracted to any of the fittings at the shower valve or at the shower arm. Might be a 90-degree fitting, or a threaded nipple.

If you have access underneath, you can check there as well. Trace the lines and look for an iron fitting all the way from where the water enters your house, through the water heaters, and onwards. The other lines might not show rust simply because they are often used and are self-flushing.

Don't forget to unscrew the shower head from the shower arm and clean out the debris screen in your shower head. With the head off the arm, run water through the shower arm. Flip the diverter from tub to shower to flush both sides.

If you think you have sediment in your branch lines in the crawl space, try to flush the system clean. You can sometimes remove sediment in the pipes while running the water and banging on the pipes in the basement or crawl space. Remove any debris screens before doing that.


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