Water temperature problems in residential settings tend to be relatively straightforward. If the water heater isn't at fault, then the issue usually comes down to the thermostat setpoint or hot water line distance. Commercial buildings typically require much more sophisticated plumbing designs, however. These more complex layouts lead to trickier fixes when problems arise.
One significant challenge many commercial structures face is the need to deliver varying water temperatures throughout the building without producing scalding water at any fixtures. Thermostatic mixing valves are one solution, and plumbers often trace water temperature issues back to these components.
The Role of Thermostatic Mixing Valves
Many facilities maintain high water heater setpoints for two reasons: to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and to avoid issues with distant fixtures. High storage temperatures can also pose significant scalding hazards, however. High water temperature may also be unsuitable for many applications, such as appliances or cooking needs.
To address these issues, many facilities use one or more thermostatic mixing valves. These components attempt to maintain a target temperature by blending hot and cold water. Multiple valves around a building can adjust temperatures for each fixture, reduce scalding risk, and ensure that hot water remains at an acceptable temperature even at distant fixtures.
Depending on your particular needs, you may have valves blending water for your entire building, sections or floors, or individual use points. Whatever the case, these valves' proper operation is essential to maintain appropriate water temperatures throughout a facility.
Common Mixing Valve Problems
Like any valves, the ones in your building that regulate water temperature can wear out and fail. Old valves may become dirty or clogged, which can impact both water pressure and temperature. Depending on the particular mode of failure, you may notice decreased water pressure, inconsistent heating, or both at fixtures served by the valve.
Clogged up valves are usually a relatively straightforward problem to fix. Most thermostatic mixing valves contain a check stop with a filter. If debris makes its way into the system, it can create a blockage that prevents water from passing through the filter. Disassembling the valve and carefully cleaning the filter and other components will usually fix the issue.
Other potential problems include internal failures, such as a faulty valve ball. Depending on the severity of the issue, it may be possible to disassemble and clean the valve instead of replacing the entire piping section. If this doesn't work, then rebuilding the valve with new parts should restore proper operation at a lower cost than a full replacement.
Always remember that a commercial building's hot water system not only provides water at the appropriate temperature but also protects occupants from harmful scalding. If you notice issues with the water temperature in your building, always consult with an experienced commercial plumber as soon as possible. Contact a commercial plumbing service for more information.