Plumbing Crossover
Detection and Easy Fix

How to find and fix the plumbing crossover, and problems when the hot water is not hot enough or water heater doesn't produce enough hot water.

Every house, either new or old, has two separate water lines; hot and cold. When the cold water is heated inside the water heater, it produces hot water from where it is distributed to where it is needed; hot water taps, washing machine, dishwasher…

The water temperature inside the heater is controlled by the thermostat, and if properly set, the water temperature should be between 120 F (factory set) and 140 F (maximum recommended).

If hot water is not hot enough, it is lukewarm or even cold, something is wrong either with the water heater or plumbing.

There are several reasons why the water heater is not producing hot water, and some are described in the troubleshooting guide.

If everything is ok with the water heater, the reason for the problem when hot water is not hot enough or there is not enough hot water might be in the house plumbing, and the most common problem is the plumbing crossover.

This is the situation when the cold water mixes with the hot water; for some reason, it flows into the hot water system, which shouldn't. The location for the plumbing crossover (assuming the plumbing was done correctly and there are no plumbing cross connections) is usually inside one of the faulty mixing valves (such as those found in washing machines) or single handle faucets.

How to check and locate the plumbing crossover

Locate the shut-off valve installed on the cold line and close to the water heater and a valve.

Usually, inside the laundry room or even garage, there is a faucet with the two separate, hot and cold spigots. Open the hot water tap and look what’s happening. The normal situation is when the hot water stops running completely after some time. If it doesn't and it turns cold, you have a situation with the plumbing crossover where the cold water enters the hot water plumbing system. If the water stays hot and continuously running with the slower flow rate, the problem is with the defective shut off valve that allows cold water to enter the water heater tank. The faulty shut off valve must be replaced.

Once you figure out that there is a problem, you have to locate where the mixing occurs, which might be time-consuming. This is one of the ways:

First, check if the plumbing cross connection is happening in the washing machine. Shut off the service valves to the washer while the hot water tap is open. If the water stops flowing at the hot water tap, the mixing valve on the washing machine is the cause.

If the washing machine runs properly and the mixing valve is not causing any issues, check every faucet that has the single handle, by touching the pipes that run to that tap. If the pipes of one fixture are both cold than that faucet is the cause of the plumbing crossover and must be fixed.

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