QUESTION: I have to wait forever to get hot water at the bathroom faucet in the morning, and the water never gets really hot. Is there any low-cost, do-it-yourself method to get hot water quicker?
ANSWER: I know how annoying this can be. Until I installed a simple demand hot water kit, it took about two minutes to get hot water to my bathroom. Now it takes only about 15 seconds, and the water is steamy.
Waiting for hot water at your faucets not only wastes your time, it pushes up your energy and water bills. A typical family of four annually wastes up to 15,000 gallons of water down the drain just waiting for hot water. What's worse, the water is only lukewarm when you finally get it.
The basic components of the various do-it-yourself rapid hot water kits are similar. The kits include a tiny water pump, temperature sensor and a solenoid water valve. Most use screw-on (no soldering) flexible pipes.
The solenoid valve connects the hot and cold water supply lines under the sink. On a demand-actuated kit, when you want hot water, the quiet water pump draws hot water from the water heater through the hot water line.
This water is diverted through the solenoid valve into the cold water line and back to the water heater. Not a single drop is wasted down the drain.
In several seconds, hot water reaches the temperature sensor, the pump stops and the solenoid valve closes. Now you turn on the faucet as always and you have hot water.
You can also install additional wireless remote demand buttons in other bathrooms. If you install the kit in the bathroom farthest from the water heater, you will have instant hot water at all your faucets.
The water is also much hotter. Since the hot water gets to the faucet so fast, it does not lose its warmth in the pipes as before. This allows you to set the water heater temperature lower for an overall 10% energy savings.
On a timer-actuated kit (no demand button), you set the hours when you need instant hot water at the faucet (usually the morning). This design provides literally instant hot water. Another very low-cost option for some homes is a valve-only kit that relies on gravity for the water circulation.
Still another instant hot-water option is to install a tiny point-of-use (two- to four-gallon) electric water heater under the sink. This allows you to have steamy hot water at one faucet without setting up your main water heater thermostat.
Write for (instant download: http://www.dulley.com) Update Bulletin No. 807, a listing of demand-timer instant hot water kits and point-of-use water heaters, features, prices and installation instructions. Please include $3 and a business-size, self-addressed envelope and send to James Dulley, Los Angeles Times, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244.
Spray Plaster Walls to Remove Wallpaper
Q: I have an older house with real plaster walls that are wallpapered. I want to remove the wallpaper and paint them so that the room is brighter without lights on. How can I remove the wallpaper?
A: On most walls, a steamer makes the job easy, but be careful on old plaster walls. Test the steam method in an obscure corner to make sure it does not damage the plaster.
A safer method is to spray the wall with warm water from a weed-type pump sprayer. Also, stripper additives, sold at most hardware stores, speed up the job. These usually use enzymes to break down the old adhesive faster.
On-demand kit is actuated by a button-optional wireless button for each sink or bathroom.
Console model is controlled by adjustable timer.
Install under sink furthest from water heater.
Letters and questions to James Dulley, a Cincinnati-based engineering consultant, may be sent to James Dulley, Los Angeles Times, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244.