Due to the common complaint of low water pressure, a lot of people think that high water pressure is something good, but a home with excessively high water pressure can be an absolute nightmare. Although rare, high water pressure can cause serious damage to pipes causing leaks, water wastage, and expensive repairs.
What’s the problem with high water pressure?
Oh sure, high water pressure is fun when you’re luxuriating in the shower or cleaning the car with what feels like a power-washer, but it’s causing you problems. The extra stress on the pipes and appliances (toilets, dishwashers, etc) means that the life expectancy of these expensive items drops significantly. Meanwhile, your heavy-flow taps and showerheads are causing a serious strain on your water and energy bills.
Why is my water pressure so high?
One of the most common causes of high water pressure is often the local water supplier – this is especially true if you live in an area with lots of multi-story older buildings that would require higher pressure to reach the top levels. There can also be issues for anyone living at the bottom of a valley or hill – gravity and basic science is not your friend on this one.
Testing your water pressure
- The easiest way to check your home’s water pressure is to test the incoming pressure from the municipal lines.
- Locate the first faucet along the incoming water line. This faucet has the highest pressure and will tell you if you have any pressure issues within your home or originating from the municipal lines.
- Make sure there is no water being used anywhere in the house. You may wish to use individual shut-off valves for faucets or toilets if you plan to exclude those from the test.
- Close the main shut-off valve.
- Attach a water pressure gauge to the faucet.
- Turn on the faucet completely to get a reading of the pressure.
High water pressure and knocking pipes
Things going bump in the night? Who ya gonna call?
Ghostbusters! A plumber!
Water hammer refers to the banging noises which sometimes come from plumbing pipework when water that had been flowing at a very high speed is stopped abruptly. When the fast-moving water abruptly meets anything in your piping such as a valve, a banging noise will occur which is water hammer.
Since water is a dynamic fluid containing mass, when it is stopped abruptly it sets up a shock wave through the water which causes the pipes to vibrate and ‘shudder’. Reducing the water pressure will in turn reduce knocking pipes and create a happier, healthier plumbing system.
It’s not only an individual problem – water use is at an all time high and an effort should be made to curb it. Between 30,000 and 40,000 gallons of water could be saved every single year if the average home operated at the maximum recommended water pressure.