One of our friends asks about the water pressure in their home and they believe that they are getting pressure that is too high and damaging their home appliances such as their water heater. In an attempt to find an answer they called a plumber that came out and checked their system. The plumber found that they had 80PSI which is at the top of the acceptable range for residential water pressure. At this point the plumber is not suggesting any out of range problems but when our friend tests their water pressure at their clothes washer they are getting 105 PSI.
If you are on a municipal water system you should understand the pressure in the water system can change throughout the day and day to day. Normally the pressure should be at an acceptable range however during heavy use there might be demand that drops your pressure. We have all experienced low pressure in the summer or spring when neighbors are filling their swimming pools or watering their laws all at the same time. The system just can’t keep up with the use by so many people at an unusual rate.
So what can cause water pressure that is too high? Normally that is a problem due to bad zoning or equipment owned by your water company. In reality there might not be anything you can do personally to make sure the water at your water meter is below an acceptable level if other customers in your area are experiencing low pressure and the company is making adjustments that throws your house out of wack.
This really isn’t an acceptable situation but high pressure is better than low pressure because you as a home owner can install a pressure reducing valve on your side of the water meter to reduce pressure within your home.
Installing A Water Pressure Reducing Valve
A pressure reducing valve can be installed by you or a plumber but as stated you need to place it after your water meter. If the water company wants to provide this for you then great but you shouldn’t let the issue pass because you could end up damaging expensive appliances in your home.
To install a pressure reducing valve you will need to turn off the water to your home. Normally every home should have a valve before and a valve after the water meter so that the meter can be turned off and removed for servicing. This is where you want to turn your system off.
You want to install the valve as the first thing in your home that water passes through. You should not install it after the expansion tank.
All Valves will say what they are rated for. Most will be between 40PSI and 75PSI and if operating correctly a valve that is wide open shouldn’t allow more than 75 PSI into your home. Depending on the valve you purchase the pressure may be different. If you are installing one in an RV then the pressure will be much lower.
The valve will be brass with a 3/4 inch line size and they will require some type of union or fitting to be mounted on your home line to accept them. Normally they are threaded so a Union will allow you to remove the Valve if it needs replacement. I wouldn’t even consider trying to service one of these valves you should just replace it if you find you are having any problems.
After the Pressure Reducing Valve you may want to install a hose bib so you can test the pressure outside of the valve. Most valves will have either a hose bib attachment on them for pressure testing the street and the home side of the valve and others will have a pressure gauge built into them but this is normally only found on smaller systems.
Testing Your Home Water Pressure
Testing your water pressure should be performed at different locations in your home. Pressure testers are available to hook to hose bibs with a screw on attachment. In your bathroom and kitchen you can install a hose bib type screw on fitting on your faucet aerator temporarily to take a reading however your faucet might limit the pressure. You can also check at your water heater drain bib, your clothes washing hookup and your outside hose bibs. Remember the valves must be open fully to check the pressure.
In an older home lower pressure is possible because of corrosion and particulate buildup so if you have dramatic pressure changes throughout your home that are much lower it might be pointing to a problem with your water feed lines that needs to be addressed. Again if you are testing off of a faucet you might get lower than actual pressures because of the faucet internals.
Adjusting Your Water Pressure Reducing Valve
Once you have installed your water pressure reducing valve you may want to adjust the pressure within your home. If your unit has a street and customer test hookup you can read the street side and then adjust the valve by turning a screw on the valve to set your pressure.
Since most units do not have both a street and home test hookup you will have to test at your outside hose bib and then make adjustments. Remember to count the number of turns you make on the screw and follow the arrows on the label tab as to which direction to turn the screw to set the pressure. One or two turns should be enough to see a pretty large change. Remember don’t set the pressure at the absolute high point of the unit or its like having no valve at all and for best results I like to keep the pressure between 50 and 60 PSI. This should be more than enough to provide quick filling of your Clothes Washer and Toilet Flush Refills.
Most people don’t think twice about the water pressure in their home they just complain about it if it is too low but high water pressure can mean early failure of your appliances and huge surges if your local municipal water system is having problems can cause trouble in your home.
Many people like to have as much pressure as possible in their home but I have found that over time this leads to lots of wasted water especially if you have kids or teens. Reducing your water pressure might mean that you wait a bit longer but it may also save a costly repair.