Dealing with your home’s water pressure is reminiscent of Goldilocks: Too hard, and high water pressure can cause expensive damage to your pipes and fixtures. Too soft, and low water pressure becomes a time-consuming nuisance that may be highlighting a more serious problem. You need an in-home water pressure that is just right – and the good news is it’s not hard to achieve.
In-home water pressure should ideally range between 45 and 55 pounds per square inch (psi), but it commonly ranges from 45 to 80 psi. To find out your home water pressure, get a water pressure gauge from any hardware store and test the flow at a hose spigot. Anything under 30 or above 80 psi is considered to be a problem worth fixing.
Even if your water pressure is currently perfect, it’s not guaranteed to stay that way. Here’s a quick look at where water-pressure fluctuations come from and what you can do about them.
Low water pressure is often first noticed at a sink or in the shower, and sometimes you hear a faint whistling sound at the same time. If…:
- It seems to be affecting your whole neighborhood, it’s likely a temporary problem with your local water authority. If this happens often, a water pressure regulator can eliminate the issue at your house. (Read on for more information.)
- It only seems to be affecting one faucet or one appliance, the problem is likely right there, such as a clogged fixture aerator or a leak in that water line.
- It’s affecting only the hot water, you likely have a problem with your water heater.
- It happens throughout your home but only at certain times of day, you might have too many appliances pulling water at the same time. Try staggering your water usage throughout the day to see if it helps.
If low water pressure seems to be affecting the water flow throughout your home and/or your outside faucets most of the time, you likely have a larger problem that needs to be addressed. Potential problems include:
A valve problem.
The flow of water into your home is regulated in two places: one shut-off valve at the meter and one on or in your home. If you’ve had plumbing problems worked on just prior to discovering the low water pressure, it may be that one or both of those valves is still partially closed and therefore reducing the flow of water. You just have to look at each valve and ensure it’s fully in the open position.
A water leak.
A leak somewhere in your plumbing system would account for the pressure drop. Assuming there are no other signs of a leak such as damp spots or the sound of unexplained drips, you can use your water meter to uncover a leak. Stop all water use, including turning off all water-using appliances such as the water heater, then check your water meter. In a couple hours, check your meter again. If water has been used, you have a leak and it’s time to contact a licensed professional plumber.
Pipes get blocked for several reasons, but any of them can affect your water pressure. One giveaway of a clogged pipe is that the water comes out at normal pressure when you first turn on a faucet, but then it quickly and noticeably loses pressure. Common causes of pipe blockages include mineral buildup from hard water and the corrosion and/or collapse of old buried pipes. The best way to diagnose the problem is to call your plumber, who will likely do a camera inspection.
Alternatively, your home’s water pressure may be so high that it can strain and damage any part of your plumbing system, especially if left untreated over time. In addition to noticing the force of the water or checking the psi, you may also hear a loud thumping sound when you turn off a faucet.
Common causes of high water pressure aren’t generally fixable. For instance, if your home is at the foot of a hill, gravity alone may be rushing the water through the municipal pipes and into your fixtures. Or your home may have higher pressure if it’s on the same water line with, for instance, a large building with extensive water needs.
Time to Call Horizon
In any of these instances, Horizon Plumbing Services can quickly be on hand to help get your water pressure back to that sweet spot – and our consultation visit is free.
If the problem is low water pressure, we can determine whether your pipes can be cleaned out or must be replaced. Another question we can answer is whether your home has outgrown the capacity of its existing intake pipes and needs larger branch lines; this could be a possibility if you’ve recently renovated your home or added new plumbing fixtures. If the problem is high water pressure, we can install a pressure regulator on your main water line that will do exactly what its name says: force the water pressure going into your home into a more moderate range.
Speaking of pressure regulation, in order to keep up with the latest advances in home plumbing, we now offer the Flo by Moen smart water detection system. The smart water valve has three sensors that actively monitor water flow rate, pressure, and area temperature to protect your home from potential leaks and burst pipes, no matter where you are. It’ll even shut off your water entirely in case of emergency – which it recognizes after monitoring your home’s water usage to “learn” your water footprint. You monitor and control the system through the Moen app on your smartphone. All told, this system can reduce your risk of water leaks and damage by 96% — and you may be eligible to save on your home insurance premiums.
Contact Horizon Plumbing today to get your free estimate on the Flo by Moen leak detection system.