Losing Hot Water Pressure in Whole House? Solution Found!

We have been slowly losing hot water pressure in our home for quite some time.  It wasn't a big deal but over the last month or two we noticed an intolerable loss of hot water pressure when we tried to run two hot water faucets at the same time.   We had no problem with cold water pressure.  It was just a dramatic loss of hot water flow from the sink faucets and showers and tubs. And I knew it couldn't be caused by the time we pounded a nail through our sewer pipe.  I drained our hot water tank last week after reading some suggestions that this may fix the problem.  It didn't.  So I called a plumber. We talked on the phone for a moment and he figured he knew what the problem was right away.  And he was correct.

It turns out we had a major build up of mineral deposits in the hot water pipe leaving the hot water tank.  It turns out around 2002-2003 (which is when our home was built) was right about the time he says changes were made in hot water tank installation requirements in order to avoid build up of calcium and other mineral deposits at this connection point.  When these two different metals contact each other, it allows mineral deposits to collect over time and obstruct the flow of hot water from the hot water tank.  

So he cut the hot water pipe just near the top of the tank at its exit point and then manually chiseled away the deposits.  What he found shocked me.  We had just a pinhole of flow coming out of the hot water tank.  Once he cleaned out all the junk, he soldered  the copper pipe back together.  Since the tank is already ten years old he figured his clean up job would outlast the life of the hot water tank and did not replace the connection with a more expensive fitting that would avoid the build up.  He charged $160 for 45 minutes of work (which by the way is far more than Medicare or Medicaid pays doctors for routine E&M charges of the same period of time).  Do plumbers make more than doctors?  You make the call.

This could be a DIY project if you know how to solder copper pipe.  He fixed the problem and we now have normal flowing hot water.   We don't have a soft water system, but are really considering buying one.  Here are some pictures to help you visualize just how bad the mineral deposits had gotten and why the hot water pressure in our home had gotten so low.  The top photo identifies the hot and cold water pipes on the top of the tank.  The next two pictures are cross sectional pictures of the inside of the hot water pipe before and after it was cleaned out with a chisel.    I wonder if fixing this problem will improve the effectiveness of our brand new dishwasher we got when we did our first floor home remodel in 2010-2011.   Hopefully it will.

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