Maintaining the Proper Water Pressure in Residential Plumbing

by on 18/01/11 at 9:42 pm

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Poor water pressure is a prevalent  plumbing issue. If you have this kind of a trouble, the first step towards diagnosing and remedying it is measuring your static water pressure.

This is simple enough to do with a water pressure measuring gauge, which  many hardware and home improvement retailers keep in stock . This simple gadget consists of a measuring gauge and a standard hookup like those on a garden hose that you can screw on to an outside hose bib or your washing machine’s cold or hot water bib. To verify your house’s static water pressure level, simply screw on the measuring gauge, open up the faucet, and the gauge can show how much pressure you have on whichever floor the faucet you are using for the test is located (the water pressure on a house’s 2nd floor is generally 8 psi lower than on the ground floor).

So, what is the correct water pressure level? For home plumbing, it’s ideal to be inside a range of from 50 to 70 psi. Plumbing fixtures for residential use are intended to stand up to a maximum pressure of 80 psi, so at 80 psi and above, you risk harming your fixtures. Conversely, if the pressure is much under 50 psi, you may experience annoying problems of inadequate water flow.

In the instance that your water pressure is too high, you’ll have to dial back your PRV (pressure reducing valve) which should be situated near your home’s primary water shut-off. If you don’t already have one, then you’ll want to get one put in. The PRV is easy to adjust and will keep the house’s water pressure at a exact level.

In the case that your water pressure is too low, you should initially contact your municipal water provider and inquire whether that level is standard for your area . If that is the case , then the only possible fix is to purchase a water pressure booster pump. These are available in a variety of designs and at a wide variety of prices, but it is certainly recommended to have one of these booster pumps put in by  a licensed plumber; this is not a D.I.Y. project.

If the pressure is lower than it should be, there may be  an issue with the outside pipes, such as a leak, blockage or crimp. Who is responsible for correcting the trouble is dependent on exactly where it happens to be . House owners are accountable for maintaining the plumbing from the point at which it enters their property. The pipes exterior to your property line are the responsibility of the municipality.

There is additionally some likelihood that your difficulty is not one of water pressureper se, but rather one of water flow. If your check shows enough static water pressure, but you sense that you’re obtaining inadequate water coming out of one or more of your plumbing fixtures, there is most likely some trouble effecting the water flow in your house’s inner plumbing.

The problem might be as uncomplicated as a clogged faucet aerator or shower head. To clear them, simply unscrew the offending aerator or shower head and soak it in a solution of 50% water and 50% white vinegar overnight . If you can’t unscrew it, you can put the water-white vinegar solution in a plastic bag and then attach the bag around the fixture with a rubber band.

If you have weak water flow from all of your fixtures, you’re most likely facing a much more high-priced repair job. A likely cause is corroded galvanized steel pipes. Buildings are no longer plumbed with galvanized steel pipes simply because they only hold up for approximately 40 years. As they are corroded by the water itself running through them, rust deposits develop on the inside, reducing the pipes’ diameter, which in turn causes  decreased water flow. The only way to fix the problem is to replace them with copper or PEX water lines.

The problem could also be one of poor workmanship or design. A crimp or inexpertly soldered joint in your plumbing can reduce water flow, as can a circuitous structure with excessive bends and general length of pipe.

One way to boost your water flow is to increase the diameter of your water lines. This is a little counterintuitive, but bigger diameter water lines help to sustain your home’s dynamic water pressure, which is the level of water pressure at  any specific point in your plumbing system when one or more plumbing fixtures is in use. Water pipe diameter doesn’t impact static water pressure, which is a measure of the amount of water pressure in the system when no fixtures are drawing water .

The bigger diameter water pipes you have, the more h2o there is existing in the system prior to when you begin drawing water. Thus, the impact on the total system when any one fixture starts drawing water is lessened . The good news is that you don’t have to beef up the diameter of all your water lines to take advantage of this effect. If you increase water pipe diameter at any point in your house’s plumbing system , you are raising the volume of h2o in the total system and lessening the effect of individual fixtures on dynamic water pressure. Obviously though , the greater the increase the bigger the benefit.

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  • Steve Dorff

    With a common pipe supplying all twelve floors, your static pressure will always be higher as you go lower in the building. Don’t confuse pressure with volume.

    Changing the pipe diameter will tend in the direction of equalizing the flow from a fixed orifice on each floor, but this can hardly be a scientific calculation as the number of fixtures opened at any given time is extremely varied.
    Your example of all outlets open at the same time is very unrealistic. Highly unlikely.

  • Steve Dorff

    Highly unlikely. They are not scientists, and from what I observe frequently, the trades these days are less professional compared to a few decades ago.