So, a few weeks ago I spent an entire three-day weekend in the crawl space
under my house. This week is the last of the posts concerning things I did while under there. I promise. But like I said in that first post: the crawlspace is so horrible, if you have to go in best to do as many things as possible--like surgery.
It has always bothered me that it took about a minute to get good hot water out of my kitchen sink. Upgrading to a water conserving aerator
last year just made things worse, now it was over a minute (because less water was flowing
). My second bathroom and new washing machine were even further from the hot water heater, so they have to wait even longer for the hot water--but I'll just use the kitchen sink for this experiment.
My hot water pipes run pretty much straight from the water heater on one side of the house to the washing machine hook-up, then the other bathroom, with a tee for the kitchen sink just before the washer. What happens is hot water goes into the pipes, and if it's not needed just sits there. The only good part about working in the crawlspace is that it's cool. However, this isn't good for hot water. After chillin' down there for an hour or so, the hot water ain't so hot anymore.
The simplest solution--or at least remediation--is pipe insulation. If you've seen kids playing with foam pool noodles, you've seen pipe insulation. I am positive they're made in the same factories.
On Monday they make grey foam pipe insulation, on Tuesday they change the color of the foam to something fun and make pool noodles. You can buy solid pool noodle pipe insulation at many home improvement stores and make your own pool toys too, if you're into that sort of thing. Maybe I'll do that and write about it later this summer.
For pipe insulation purposes, they make a tube with a slit in it and peel and stick tape already attached. All you have to do is spread the tube and slip it over the pipe, the stick the tape together.
In most projects there will be places where the pipe goes too close to a floor joust, or bends, or tees off, and you will need to either notch the tube, or cut it thinner or something, but it's not rocket science. Scissors or a utility knife cut it easily, and you can squeeze it to half its normal size too.
Just cover as much of the pipe as you can. Sure a little bit of heat will leak wherever you can't cover, but all in all it will be minimal. The foam pipe insulation can also quiet noisy pipes that bang around too.
Doing what I could easily in my three day weekend, I covered about 75% of the pipe. I would have done the rest, and gotten up to about 95%, but there was a hitch.
Water runs down hill. The water going out the drain, and down the toilet needs to go down, down, down to keep moving. Eventually, if you live in the city, it goes to the sewer pipes, deep under the street. So one side of my house had a drain pipe I had to climb over, but the other side was in a particularly scary, deeper part of the crawlspace.
Most likely it was only 12-18" deeper and 24" wide, but on my belly it looked like a scale model of the Grand Canyon. And just like the real thing there were cat turds and old bleached bones in the bottom of it. I wisely decided to not try to cross it, and instead go back at a later date through the entrance on the other side of the house.
So how did I do? Well, the kitchen sink used to take over 60 seconds to deliver full hot water. With the flow rate I have now, that wasted about one gallon of water. After insulating 75% of the pipes, the water is hot in 30 seconds. Not good, but better. I'll let you know just how good it gets when the rest of pipe is insulated.