I always have trouble with faucets like this - trying to find the sweet spot between too hot and too cold.

I always have trouble with faucets like this – trying to find the sweet spot between too hot and too cold.


We left NYC on a late-evening flight, arriving in Syracuse (where the car was parked) around midnight – so by the time we got to our hotel in downtown Syracuse, the night manager was the only one there to greet us. She politely checked us in and sent us up to our room.

It was nice to finally unwind, and we immediately made ourselves at home, hanging jackets away and putting on pyjamas. We checked the beds for bugs, and put on the television in preparation to have a hot shower.

Naked now, I turned on the faucet – one of those dial jobs where you’re never sure which way to point the handle for hot and which way for cold. So I wasn’t surprised when the stream quickly turned to scalding. I hopped out of the way and turned the dial in the opposite direction.

Nope. Still hot. What the hell?!

So I turned it off altogether and stomped out to complain to Junkii that I couldn’t figure the damn thing out. He gave it his best shot but no luck. So I got the bright idea to try the sink faucet – which had two knobs, clearly labelled cold and hot. Now we’d get to the bottom of things!

I turned on the cold and it wasn’t long before the water again turned scalding hot. Something wasn’t right.

We called the front desk to explain and the manager didn’t offer much in the way of a solution. The maintenance man wasn’t on site and she had no vacancy in their second building. Best she could come up with was to move us to another room on a different floor.

I insisted that she first go check that room first, to see if the water was working properly. She did so, and came back to assure me the room did have cold water. So we repacked our bags, put our clothes back on, grabbed our coats, and went back to the front desk to switch keys.

We got to our new room and indeed, the water felt cool when I turned the tap on…but I let it run for about 30 seconds and the longer it ran the hotter it got.

We called the front desk, but aside from trying to find another hotel, we had few options left. We resigned to go to bed without showering and hoped the issue would be resolved by morning.

The problem put us both in a foul mood and we watched a little telly before turning out the lights. And just before lights out, Junkii went back to the washroom one last time. And when he checked the water, the problem was resolved. Cold water aplenty – fresh and pure.

So here’s the question: what the hell happened?! I’m no master of plumbing, but don’t the hot and cold water come from separate pipes? It makes no sense that a faucet spewing scalding hot water would suddenly turn cold; and I mean truly cold – not just tepid. The source had to have changed.

In the end, we never got an answer. The morning staff were blissfully oblivious to the issue. It remains an unsolved mystery. So please, if you’re reading this post and you’re in any way handy, tell us what might have caused this plumbing paradox.

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4 responses »

  1. Lillian Holowka says:

    I have been there too. You have to have patience to find the sweet spot between the too hot and too cold. Patience is the answer.

    • RoC(k)r says:

      Generally patience works, but in this case, there was definitely something wrong. Facebook friends are saying it was likely a check valve somewhere in the system that was malfunctioning and that eventually flipped the right way.

  2. I had a similar problem in an old apartment building here in Ottawa.. sometimes I’d get hot water from both pipes but only in the shower.. the only thing that I could think of was that some tap in another unit but on the same lines and a pressure difference was causing hot water to get sucked back down the cold pipe. It was pretty maddening.

    • RoC(k)r says:

      It’s most annoying if you get partway THROUGH a shower and the water changes. Changing to cold is nasty but doable. Changing to scalding hot is just unfeasible! Hopefully your water supply is more stable nowadays 🙂

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