The International Plumbing Code (IPC) dictates that residential water pressure must be 80psi or lower. We recommend keeping your pressure between 60-70psi. Anything higher than 80psi can cause significant damage to not just your pipes, but also the plumbing fixtures in your home. In our area, the average pressure entering a home can range between 90-110psi. We’ve even seen it as high as 140psi!
What’s Wrong with High-Pressure Water?
High-pressure water can erode your pipes, eat at your connections and cause leaks from your plumbing fixtures such as faucets, toilets, hose bibbs, shower heads, and even your shut-off valves. High-pressure water can shorten the lifespan of your water heater, your washer, and your dishwasher. These problems can be quite costly to repair!
High-pressure water can also be a wasteful problem. Millions of gallons of water are wasted every year due to excess flow, drips, and leaks. If you haven’t noticed any leaks or wear and tear on your appliances, you might see it on your higher than average water bill.
How Do I Know if I Have High Pressure?
Do you have toilets that always seem to run? When turned off, do your faucets drip, or spray when turned on? Do you ever hear a banging or clunking in your pipes? These are all symptoms of having high water pressure in your home.
That banging and clunking you hear can be rather disconcerting. That sound is called water hammering. This is what causes the most amount of damage from high-pressure water. It is not so much the fast and hard flow of the water when you turn on a tap or flush your toilet. That sound is the water hammering against a valve when you turn off the water, your toilet stops filling, or your dishwasher stops running. You can see an example of this effect below.
When this happens continually, it can cause anything from an annoying drip to washer hoses bursting. We’ve seen more than one basement flood from a burst hose or water heater.
What Do I Do About It?
Luckily, lowering the water pressure in your home is a straightforward fix. Most newer homes already have a device called a Pressure Reducing Valve or PRV. This device, installed on your main water line, regulates the pressure of the water entering your home. If your pressure is high, this is a sign that the PRV in your home needs to be adjusted or replaced. The best way to tell if your pressure is high is to call a licensed, professional plumber to test the pressure in your home.
What to Expect With a New PRV
When you have a new PRV installed in your home, you may have a pronounced decrease in your water pressure if your pressure was previously very high. This drop in pressure can be most noticeable when bathing. A good shower head with higher flow rate can help offset this issue.
There is another issue that most people don’t expect: leaks. Unfortunately, the damage may already be done and even after reducing the pressure you might encounter drippy faucets and leaking pipe joints. We recommend having a thorough plumbing inspection during or after the replacement of a PRV. An inspection can help spot any damage that the pressure may have caused before you encounter any significant issues.