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Dear Jim: Our water heater supplies ample hot water, but it takes a long time for it to reach the bathrooms. Without installing larger pipes, are there any simple fixes I can do myself to get hot water quicker? - Mike M.
A: Your situation is common and you are wasting more than just your time in the mornings. You are paying for the thousand of gallons of water wasted down the drain each year just waiting for hot water. Also, that wasted water is partially heated from your house, so energy is also wasted.
There are several simple fixes for this problem that will bring hot water to any faucet in your home within 10 seconds and eliminate all the wasted water. One method is installing a quick-delivery pump/control unit under just one bathroom sink or installing a mini-water heater in each bathroom.
A quick-delivery unit is the most efficient method and the kits include everything needed for do-it-yourself installation. You just unscrew the water lines underneath the sink in the bathroom furthest from the water heater. Attach flexible pipes (in the kit) from the water valves to the unit. Attach another set of flexible pipes to the faucet and plug it in.
There is a tiny high-speed pump, diverter valve and temperature sensor inside the unit. When you want hot water, the pump starts drawing hot water from the water heater. Instead of dumping the cold water from the long pipe down the drain, the diverter valve puts it back into the cold water line.
As soon, within 10 seconds, as the hot water reaches the unit under the sink, the temperature sensor shuts off the pump. It also switches the diverter valve so the hot water comes out the faucet as normal. These tiny pumps consume only about $2 of electricity over an entire year's usage.
If you locate the unit under the sink in the bathroom furthest from the water heater, it fills that entire hot water pipe. With the pipe full, you will also get hot water much faster to other bathrooms on that branch.
There are several types of controls for these quick-delivery kits. With a demand control, you push a button to start the unit when you want hot water. Additional wireless remote demand buttons can be mounted in other bathrooms or the kitchen. This is the most efficient type of control.
Another design uses a timer to start the unit. This may be 6:00 a.m if this is when your family awakes. This system starts and stops automatically during the timer "on-time" so you have hot water immediately at the faucet.
If all of your hot water lines are above the water heater, you can install a simple low-cost valve to keep hot water continuously tickling through the system. This is less efficient though.
Instant Download Update Bulletin No. 429 - buyer's guide of seven manufacturers of quick-delivery hot water kits showing types of controls (timer, demand button, remote controls), prices, installation instructions, detailed product descriptions, illustrations, and six manufacturers of tiny point-of-use electric water heaters showing water capacities, first hour hot water ratings and sizes.
Dear Jim: I just finished building a redwood deck in my backyard. I have heard that a new deck should not be treated and sealed for a year or so, but I don't want it to get damaged. What is the proper wait time? - Ned B.
A: There is not an exact proper wait time because it varies depending on the type of wood used. Redwood and cedar tend to start weathering quickly, so treat it soon after the deck is completed.
New pressure-treated lumber, which is more commonly used and less expensive, needs to dry out for several months before is it treated. You can usually notice when it stops shrinking meaning it is time to be treated.