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Admittedly, this isn't something that is happening to me but I'm curious: I've heard that in some houses, flushing toilets or running a clothes washer sometimes changes the water temperature for people taking showers at the same time in the same house. Why is this?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

This happens because water is diverted away from the shower to the toilet or washing machine.

What happens next will depend on the type of shower and it's age. Older, non thermostatic showers will be affected to a greater extent.

For an electric shower the flow of water through the shower will be reduced which will have the effect of heating it up further - though the thermostat should keep the effect to a minimum.

For a mixer shower it will depend on whether the cold water is reduced - in which case it will get hotter, or the hot water via the heater is reduced - in which case it will get colder. Again a thermostatic mixer should keep the effect to a minimum.

In any case you'll get a much reduced flow through the shower.

Power (pumped) showers shouldn't be so affected as the pump in the shower is controlling the flow rate.

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Thanks Chris! As always, I appreciate the prompt and helpful feedback. –  Mike B Nov 29 '10 at 0:39
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You don't explicitly say it, but the toilet is, obviously, cold water, so that's where the imbalance comes from. The situation can also be more complicated in a house with an on-demand central water heater, as a thermostatic faucet adjusts the flow of the hot water which causes the on-demand heater output temperature to change which takes several seconds to flow into the faucet, etc... –  Sean Reifschneider Dec 6 '10 at 7:30
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