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How much pressure is too much?

Posted 04-03-2009 at 01:21 PM by faucetman886

Water pressure seems to have been the theme of the week on the DIY forums and discussion groups so I thought I would end the week with a brief article about water pressure, how much you really need, what can cause it to fluctuate, how to lower or raise it and the damages that can occur with too much pressure.
Anybody that ever thought that too much pressure was impossible needs to know that long term you can destroy appliances and fixtures in your home. In reality 60 psi is more than adequate for the average home. If your water pressure exceeds 100 psi from the street you can be doing permanent damage to your washing machine, dishwasher and other appliances with valves. Additionally you can find that sensitive cartridges in single handle faucets, cartridges in showers as well as the showerheads themselves can be damaged. With this thought in mind if you have recently gone from high pressure to low pressure in a specific faucet or appliance the first thing you need to do is check you incoming pressure. If you find it to be high you may have to investigate the repair or replacement of the offending device. If you do find high pressure you should consider installing a pressure relief valve inline in the incoming water line. Some utilities can adjust the pressure at your meter so you might also check with them.
If you find your pressure to be satisfactory on all but one fixture, the most common example of pressure variance, you may simply have a clogged aerator. Believe it or not a miniscule amount of grit or trash that has gathered in your aerator can significantly hinder your water flow or pressure. Simply remove the aerator or shower head and clean it out thoroughly.
Another long term problem that can build up is corrosion in your delivery piping in a specific area of your home. This occurs especially when you live in an area with high iron or mineral content especially of you get you water from a well. This is not as easy a fix because it can involve repiping the area of your home where the pipes have become compromised. The immediate sign of this type of problem is low pressure in one part of your home and normal pressure in another. This is not a job for the faint of heart and should be left to a licensed plumber.
Lastly if the pressure problem seems to be the whole house it can be one of three things, either corrosion build up in your main supply line from the meter, an undetected leak in the ground or well or a system problem with the provider of you water. If you have a leak you should have noticed an increase in your water bill or possibly detect the sound of running water in your system. Before getting ahead of yourself if you are served by a water utility check with your neighbors and see if they are experiencing the same or similar problem. If it is a system problem report it you’re your utility if your on a well you will need to adjust your pressure tank to compensate. If it is your problem alone then you will have to face installing a new delivery line into your home. Again this is a time consuming and costly thing to have to have done
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