A lack of cold water from the faucets in your home is irritating. If your hot water is still working, that narrows down the issue, but you still will need to do some troubleshooting. Hot water is excellent, but washing dishes or showering in piping hot water that may scorch you is no fun.
If the cold water is not working, but the hot water is, the problem should be relatively easy to isolate. Use these steps to help you navigate through your cold water issue.
Perhaps you have just spent the day working outside in the sweltering hot sun, and you come in for a nice and cold glass of water, only to find out that the cold water is not working, but the hot water is. There are a few things you should try to get your cold water up and running again.
Before getting into the technicalities of troubleshooting your lack of cold water, ensure that there is still water flow when you turn on the hot water. Check the faucets in your kitchen, shower, bathtub, and bathroom to ensure that there is water flow in the other taps in your home.
You may be experiencing a lack of cold water in your house. This can result from an accidental bump to a shut-off valve in the main water supply line. Check your main shut off valves to ensure that it is not the culprit.
If there is no cold water anywhere in your home, it could be a possible indication of a frozen pipe or debris blocking the cold water pipe. Since the cold water pipe splits off from the hot water pipe that heads to the water heater, and you have no cold water, the blockage may be in the cold water pipe.
Removing debris blocking the cold water flow can be tricky, and it is better to hire a professional plumber to handle it if you are not comfortable doing so yourself.
Sometimes, the temperature will drop so low that pipes can freeze if not used regularly in the winter. This could happen overnight while you sleep if the temperatures get low enough, or it may take several days for ice to build in the pipe.
Once you have determined which faucets the cold water works in, take a look at the pipe layout in your home if you have them. You may be able to narrow down which pipes may be frozen.
Fixing frozen pipes can be tricky, especially if the pipes have burst, so it may be best to pass this one off to a professional plumber. If you are experienced with this sort of maintenance, you can try these tips:
- Keep the water running: Allowing the water to flow slightly will help move water through the frozen areas, helping to speed up the thawing process.
- Use heat on the section of frozen pipe: You can try using a hairdryer or heating pad on the area of the frozen pipe. Do not leave the heating pad unattended. Avoid using a space heater unless you are sure there are no flammable objects in the area, and if you do use one, do not leave it unattended. Do not use a blowtorch, or kerosene or propane heater, as this presents a severe fire hazard.
- Apply heat until the water flow is normal: Thaw the pipe thoroughly, ensuring that there is no residual ice. Check that the water flow has returned to normal by running the faucets in your home.
Although this should not be a problem for individuals who live alone, you should check your shut-off valve. Kids or pets may have been playing in the area and may have bumped the shut-off valve. Ensure that the cold water valve is open by turning it counterclockwise as far as it will go.
Shut-off valves are usually located beneath the sink. The shut-off valve may be the culprit if the lack of cold water has been isolated to a single faucet.
If the shut-off valve was not the issue, check the supply line located underneath the sink. There will be a braided steel supply line in most newer homes that can withstand damage reasonably well. However, older homes may have a pliable copper or all-metal supply line that can be warped or bent easily, thus cutting off the water supply.
If a bent cold water supply line seems to be the issue, try to straighten it out and see if that helps the cold water situation.
If you have a single-handled faucet in your kitchen, bath, or shower, it is possible that the cartridge can go bad after a period of time. These faucets work by mixing the hot and the cold together, but if the cartridge goes bad, they may cross-feed into each other. If the hot and cold water leak together, you may notice that only lukewarm water is coming out of the cold tap. The cartridge will need to be replaced to correct the issue of warm water coming from the cold side of the fixture.
If the problem is isolated to your shower, the shower faucet cartridge could be causing the hangup. In the shower faucet, there is a pressure-balancing valve. If it fails, it may prevent cool water from flowing out of the shower head.
The issue should be a relatively easy fix, as the cartridge needs to be removed and replaced. However, many do-it-yourselfers find that the cartridge can be difficult to get out. You may need a unique tool called a cartridge puller. In some cases, it is more convenient to call a plumber and have them switch out the cartridge for you.
A lack of cold water in your home can be very aggravating. If you are not experienced with at-home DIY plumbing projects, it is best that you do not try to handle them. Instead, enlist the help of a professional plumber who has all of the necessary tools and knowledge to address the issue at hand adequately.
Locating the shutoff valve or the main water supply is simple enough, and most people will not have any issues doing so. However, repairing a burst pipe or removing clogged debris from a line is much more complex and should only be handled by experienced individuals or professional plumbers.
In the event that you choose to have a professional handle the issue, proceed with caution while you wait for it to be handled. The water coming out of the tap may be extremely hot, so be careful not to scorch yourself. You can also try setting the temperature on the water heater much lower than usual to help combat this issue.