Knowing your home’s water pressure is important. If it becomes too high, then it could actually damage your pipes. If it’s too low, then you may be getting just a trickle which can be frustrating. Knowing your water pressure allows to monitor any changes, and potentially save your home from problems in your water heater or fixtures.
Top Tips for Troubleshooting Low Water Pressure
Starting or ending a long day with a weak shower is deeply unsatisfying and you don’t have to learn to live with poor water pressure. The issue may be with the city’s municipal water system. Just like your home’s piping, these systems are subject to leaks, clogs, buildup, and corrosion. Before calling your local provider, you can test the city water pressure yourself using a test gauge with a hose connection. Simply screw the device onto a hose faucet and turn on the tap, having first made sure that the rest of your home’s faucets and any water-using appliances (for example, the dishwasher and washing machine) are turned off. According to experts, a 45 or 50 psi is on the low side, 60-75 is a good reading, and 80 or above is too high. After you have either ruled out or confirmed a citywide pressure problem, you can decide what steps to take next.
Clear the Clogs
Over time, your pipes can develop a buildup of mineral deposits. In extreme cases, the diameter of the pipes decreases until they become clogged, preventing the water from freely flowing through, and leaving you with a pitiful drip in the shower or a paltry trickle from the faucet. While extreme cases can require that you replace sections of pipe, you can at least take care of clogs at your system’s exit points by dissolving any minerals that are gumming up the works inside your faucet fixtures and shower heads. Simply place an open zip-lock bag filled with vinegar over your shower head or faucet, tie it in place with some string, and leave it overnight to soak. Rinse off your cleaned fittings the next morning, and put your bathroom back together. If this trick doesn’t work and you believe you have a more severe mineral clog inside the pipes, call in a plumber to assess and correct the problem.
The next solution requires little more than a few minutes of investigative work. Your house has a main water valve, usually located near the meter, which controls the flow of water into your home’s pipes. Find the valve and check to see if it’s completely open. Sometimes the valve gets accidentally turned during routine repairs and maintenance without the homeowner’s knowledge. The result: restricted flow and reduced pressure. Fortunately, the valve is easy for you to adjust yourself; calling in a plumber is unnecessary.
Replace the Regulator
Most homes have a pressure regulator, either at the meter or where the service line enters the home, that ensures that water doesn’t rush through the pipes to quickly. When you turn off the tap, rubber or silicone-based washers form a water-tight seal that prevents more water from pushing its way through the pipes and out of the faucet. Over time, washers can become stiff, torn or dislodged, allowing a tiny trickle of water through and creating an annoying drip. If the leak has gone on long enough, the valve seat may become worn or corroded, necessitating a more involved repair that’s best left to a plumbing professional. When the regulator goes bad, the pressure gradually drops, causing a loss in velocity that affects some or all of the fixtures in your home. To solve the problem, reset or replace this part, or hire a plumber to do the work for you.
Look Out for Leaks
Cracked or damaged pipes may result in water leaks that siphon off water as it travels through your pipes, leaving you with just a trickle at the tap. To determine if your main pipe has any damage, make sure all faucets indoors and out are shut off, then turn off the water valve in your home and write down the number that appears on your water meter. Return in two hours and take the meter reading again, and an increased reading is a sign of a leak. Galvanized steel pipes are particularly vulnerable to corrosion over time, so if you decide to upgrade, choose superior plastic or copper pipes.
Top Tips of Troubleshooting High Water Pressure
If your sinks and shower have irregular water pressure, or the pressure seems very strong at all times, it may mean that the water pressure coming into your house is too high. While this might make for a great shower, it isn’t as good for your water bill. What’s more, high water pressure can put extra stress on your pipes and can even lead to leaks. Fortunately, you can address the problem with a pressure regulator.
What Are the Consequences of High Pressure?
The most common effect of high pressure is leaks in your plumbing system. They may be tiny pinhole leaks, and may only come at intermittent times. Even a small leak can lead to much bigger problems if it occurs in a spot where it can damage your walls or floor. Inconsistent or high water pressure can also put stress on your appliances like your washing machine and your hot water heater, shortening their lifespan.
Do You Have Water Hammer?
A banging noise in plumbing is called water hammer and it’s caused by a pressure shock in the plumbing when you turn off the water at a faucet, flush a toilet, a dishwasher or clothes washer stops, etc. Higher water pressure creates a stronger shock wave inside the pipes when the water flow is abruptly stopped. Again installing a pressure regulator will help solve this problem. This adjustable valve allows you to set the water pressure as low as you prefer. High pressure can additionally be caused by thermal expansion inside your home as the water volume changes due to heating by your water heater.
What Can I Do?
Even if your water pressure only occasionally shoots over the 80 psi mark, it’s a good idea to install a pressure regulator on your main water line. The regulator will slow down the flow entering your home and keep the pressure at reasonable levels. That way you can avoid paying for excess water you don’t need, as well as saving wear and tear on your plumbing and faucets.
Call a qualified plumber to help diagnose your pressure problem and provide the solution. The experts at Green’s Plumbing are always available to help. Call us at (818) 880-8847 .