Testing Water Pressure
Residential water pressure tends to range between 45 and 80 psi (pounds per square inch). Anything below 40 psi is considered low and anything below 30 psi is considered too low; the minimum pressure required by most codes is 20 psi.
When it comes to water pressure, there’s a fine line to too high and too low. You need your water pressure to be a sufficient pounds per square inch (psi) of water in order to fill appliances, water your garden, and perform other tasks with minimal frustration. However, if your water pressure is too high, it will stress your pipes, appliances, and fixtures. That’s why it’s good to learn how to test water pressure and to check it from time to time, especially if you see signs that it’s too high or too low.
How to Test Water Pressure
Testing your water pressure is relatively easy and inexpensive; you can totally do it yourself at home. Get a pressure gauge from Amazon or your local hardware store and simply hook it up to a hose faucet. This should cost you between $10-15. Turn off all faucets and appliances and check the pressure to record your baseline water pressure. If it registers between 30 and 80 psi, your water pressure is just fine.
If you don’t want to get a pressure gauge and just want to do a quick test, try this: turn on both the shower and sink faucets in your master bathroom and flush the toilet. If the shower water flow drops while the toilet is filling, you’ve got water pressure problems.
Low Water Pressure
Maybe your shower flow diminishes to a trickle when other people are using water in the house(or appliances are running). Perhaps your washing machine seems to take forever to fill. You might hear a whistling sound coming from the pipes. All of these are signs that you have low water pressure.
But What Causes Low Water Pressure?
The following are common causes of low water pressure.
A Hidden Leak
One of the most common causes of low water pressure is a hidden leak. If this is the case, be happy you have discovered it – the longer a leak goes undetected, the most damage is possible (and the more money you’ll waste on water bills). Check your water meter, and if you decide the problem is probably a leak, have a plumber out who uses leak detection equipment (Mountaineer Plumbers has leak detection equipment).
Mineral Deposits in Pipes
Your pipes are supposed to remain click and smooth on the inside, but you may have problems with mineral deposits or corrosion, especially if you have hard water or water from a source that has a lot of minerals in it. This can also happen if your pipes are very old and are corroding. If there has recently been a break in the local municipal system, there may be debris in your pipes. You’ll probably see rusty colored water if this is the case.
Your Local Municipal is Having Problems
Once in a while we encounter a situation where the problem is actually the local municipality due to a break in a water main nearby. Call your local water department and ask if they are having problems of this nature.
High Water Pressure
Is water blasting out of your faucets? Have you heard the classic banging sound from the pipes (also known as a water hammer) when water is running? Is the pressure irregular — sometimes really intense and sometimes regular? it might feel fantastic in the shower, but you’re worried about the impact on your water bill. Worse yet, high water pressure can destroy the fixtures, especially those connecting your appliances to water sources, resulting in leaks and wearing down appliances, making them break down sooner.
What Causes High Water Pressure?
Believe it or not, your home’s location is probably the cause. If you live at the bottom of a hill, gravity may cause high water pressure. If you live near or in skyscrapers or fire hydrants, you might have high water pressure because the local water company keeps the pressure high near tall buildings or hydrants. It’s also possible that your water heater is causing thermal expansion inside your home, causing changes in water pressure.
How High is Too High and What Can You Do About It?
If your water pressure goes over 80 psi (even occasionally), you should install a pressure regulator to your water main line. This will protect your plumbing and appliances, saving you money both on water bills and appliances and long term plumbing.
Unfortunately, installing a pressure regulator is not something a novice should attempt. It involves locating the pipes where the pressure valve should be installed, and that requires digging up to three or four feet around the edge of your water meter. You need to locate the valves and the pressure nipples, (triangular fittings on the end of the pipe). Then you need to turn off the water and carefully disconnect the pipes from around one of these nipples. You will then need to determine which pipe directs clean water to your home, and unscrew the fittings. The water pressure regulator slides onto the pipe in such a way that is inside the pipe, and then the pipe need to be retrofitted, which often involves sawing off the proper length of the pipe. (Be careful not to saw off too much.) The pipes ends need to be fit together and the pressure control valves set around the new point. Connections are wrapped with tape and the nipple screwed back onto the pipe. Finally, set the water pressure regulator. Voila! Done!
As you can see, it’s a complicated project. Unless you are skilled at home improvement project, you will be best off hiring a plumber who can finish the job quickly and correctly.
West Virginia Plumbers Solve Water Pressure Problems
Suspect you have water pressure problems and need help from a Mountaineer Plumbers? Give us a call at 304-877-1254 or use our online contact form for assistance. We’ll help you assess your water pressure and solve the problem quickly and affordably.