Lukewarm water raises hot topics…moldy toilet |

Lukewarm water raises hot topics…moldy toilet

Q: Hi Ed, first let me tell you thanks! For single mothers like myself, your column and book is full of professional information that helps us finally figure out and understand many of our house problems on our own. My daughter and I just moved into a small house and the shower water will only get lukewarm while the rest of the house faucets in the bathroom and kitchen gets scalding hot. It’s a one handle shower valve and my old valve was a three handle set up. Any ideas on how we can get the shower water hotter? Jane – FloridaA: Thank you Jane, when I wrote my book “Ed Del Grande’s House Call” I pointed out that what homeowners really want and need is real information from real contractors. Not fluff thrown out by actors that you see so often these days. Fluff never helped anyone, so let me tell you strait out on how to deal with your problem.First, the main concern I have is that you described the water temperature in the rest of your house’s fixtures as “scalding hot.” This is not a safe condition. Manufacturers of water heaters recommend that temperature settings for water heaters do not exceed 120 degrees F under any condition. Most water heaters even have a little drawing of a hand under a hot faucet and the print says something like; Danger, hot water can burn!I know that sounds like basic advice, but this is a serious warning that many homeowners overlook. So, the first thing you need to do is have your water heater temperature lowered to your manufacturers safe hot water temperature range.I know what your thinking: Everyone out there is saying, “wait a minute Ed. If she can’t get a hot shower now with a very high water temperature, how is she ever going to get a hot shower with an even lower water temperature?Great question, and to understand the answer let me explain to you how most modern one handle anti-scald shower mixing valves work. By the way most three handle mixing valves may not have anti-scald protection and every mixing valve should be checked by a licensed plumber to insure safe operation.Modern one handle anti-scald tub and shower valves have balancing water flow pistons and/or thermostatic mixing controls built into the valve. These controls protect the user from excessive hot water conditions and many of them also have a built in stop setting so the handle may not be turned past a certain point and that would account for lukewarm shower water.The good news is that most tub/shower valves can be adjusted and reset to match your water heater’s temperature and this should give you back a reasonable hot shower. Since we are talking about adjusting your water heater and resetting your mixing valve, I suggest you call a licensed plumber to take care of both issues with one service call and that should save you a little money. The best non-fluff information I can give any homeowner about working around their own house is to know when you should call in a professional. Trust me, when it comes to your families safety you don’t want to get yourself into hot water by fooling around with equipment and controls that you’re not familiar with.Q: Ed, I have a strange problem. What would cause mold to form on the inside of the toilet tank above the water line? It’s not in the bowl, just the tank. Phyllis – Michigan.A: This can be a tricky problem! In order to grow, mold loves a moist, dark, warm area. In most cases where I have seen this problem, the toilet tank water has been raised to lukewarm temperatures for some reason and this completes the triangle for the three things that may attract mold.Tank water can warm up due to the toilet tank being located directly over a heating source or some toilet water feed lines have hot water mixer valves on the water supply to cut back sweating of the toilet tank. Either way, that could heat up your tank water. Check to make sure you don’t have lukewarm water in your tank and address the problem if you do.Also, if your toilet is broken and running constantly that may account for extra moisture at the top of your tank, so check that as well. Finally, there are some good additives that may control tank mold that you can purchase at your local home center and place in the tank. Be careful though: some additives can shorten the life of the rubber parts in your tank. I’m sure we’ll get letters from a lot of people with this same problem and if I hear a good solution to an oldie moldy toilet tank I’ll be sure to pass it along.(Master Contractor/Plumber Ed Del Grande is known nationally as the author of the book “Ed Del Grande’s House Call” and for hosting TV shows on Scripps Networks and For information visit or write eddelgrande(at) Always consult local contractors and codes.. For more stories visit

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