Trying to be a good landlord
April 2, 2012 8:29 AM   Subscribe

I just bought a new condo (yay!) but the shower water is not ideal (boo!). It gets almost hot, but not quite. I know that I can adjust the temperature on the water heater in the basement, but the water in the rest of the house gets very hot, so I feel like there's something shower-specific. From Googling, it sounds as though there's probably a blockage. Can you explain to me, like I'm a child, how (and if) I can deal with this?

I am brand-new to owning, so I am not at all handy and I am slightly afraid of breaking things. Is this something that I can deal with myself? If so, what steps should I follow? (Do I need to turn off the main water shutoff? If so, can I just... do that, or is there anything I need to be worried about, in a "whatever you do, don't let the XX get dry!" kind of way?)

I looked at this page, but I don't even understand the terminology (cartridge, etc), so if someone could walk me through it very slowly, I would really appreciate it!

More info: The shower is in a bathtub; the control and the showerhead are at one end, and the bathtub faucet and stopper are at the other end. The showerhead is the kind on a hose that you can hold in your hand. The water coming out of the bath faucet seems to get hotter than the shower water, but I don't think it gets as hot as the water in the rest of the house.
posted by cider to Home & Garden (12 answers total)
We JUST had this issue, and I can't for the life of me remember how the landlord fixed it. You might try to remove your showerhead and see if the blockage is anywhere in the head or the visible part of the pipe. I'll see if I can figure out what they did.
posted by Madamina at 8:50 AM on April 2, 2012

If you're new to owning and "not at all handy" I don't recommend trying to follow the procedures on that page, which have you removing the cartridge from the shower valve and flushing the lines to remove whatever is blocking it. Call a plumber and ask them to do it.
posted by beagle at 9:18 AM on April 2, 2012

When the mixer is set all the way over to the hot side:

1. Is the water pretty much the same temperature it is at other faucets in the house?

2. Is the flow of hot-only water robust or does it seem somewhat restricted?
posted by jon1270 at 9:19 AM on April 2, 2012

The tub is the least adjustable, so fix the temperature at the water heater so that the shower is the way you like it. Then, find the knobs (angle valves) below your sinks. The left one should be the hot, so turn up both sink knobs above (if single-control, in the middle) and turn down the "hot" valve below (clockwise) by quarter turns until the sink temp is the way you like. Repeat with other sinks.
posted by rhizome at 10:02 AM on April 2, 2012

Rhizome, I don't know quite what you're going for but I don't see how that approach is going to help anything.
posted by jon1270 at 10:13 AM on April 2, 2012

Yeah, dialing back the "hot" valve under the kitchen/bathroom sink isn't going to make that sink's "all the way hot" setting any less hot, you'll just have less hot water volume.

If the terminology in your linked page doesn't make 100% sense to you, call a plumber. It's likely either blockage in your tub/shower's hot water line, or some single-knob tub/shower controls have an adjustable limit for the "all the way hot" setting (meaning that when cranked to "all the way hot" a certain, settable amount of cold water is still in the mix.) It's a safety thing, as tub controls are often within the reach of a child where sink controls are less so. You don't want a child getting scalded by 100% tank-temperature hot water, so the "all the way hot" setting on the tub control is set to say, 80% hot, 20% cold. Probably does not apply if your tub/shower has separate knobs for hot and cold.
posted by xedrik at 10:21 AM on April 2, 2012

What brand (and model number/name) of faucet do you have in your shower?

Delta has directions for adjusting the max temperature of their brand of shower faucets.
posted by metaname at 10:35 AM on April 2, 2012

It depends on your type of fixture. On ours, if you take it apart there is a limiter inside, which controls how far to the left the knob will rotate. Setting it further over let us get more hot water. If it is already set to the max you will need to explore other options.
posted by randomgirl at 10:44 AM on April 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

i had this same problem- if you take a cap/cover off the front of your shower's handle, there should b a little knob thing, and turning it should allow more hot water to flow through your faucet. Try this method first, it's the easiest and most probable, since all your other faucets get hot.
posted by FirstMateKate at 10:58 AM on April 2, 2012

There's a temperature-sensitive valve in the shower, or bathtub fixture. It's supposed to have a setting set by the plumbing code, probably around 102 degrees F, I think. (I'm trying to remember an episode of Ask This Old House from the current season). It's a safety feature, created to prevent people from burning their babies in the tub. But you're a grown-up, so you deserve hot water.

At any rate, I'm pretty sure the temperature limiter doohickey was screw-adjustable. Your bath/shower fixtures, unless they're custom work, were designed to be serviced, so turn off the water, put a stopper in the drain and a towel over that (because you'll drop screws and springs and such) and then open your fixture up. (Flathead screwdriver, possibly an allen wrench (hex-wrench) set.)
posted by Sunburnt at 11:10 AM on April 2, 2012

I didn't get the impression that the problem was "all-the-way-hot" is (or would be) too hot everywhere, since most people know how to adjust temperature rather than expecting "hot-only" to be their preferred hottest temperature, and have that temperature be different throughout the house.
posted by rhizome at 2:28 PM on April 2, 2012

Thanks for all the advice! I tried taking the cover off last night and looked back there, but nothing looked obvious -- so I'll call a plumber.
posted by cider at 5:51 AM on April 3, 2012

« Older Poetry reading   |   Where to print a tiny book? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.