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Old 03-01-2010, 03:39 PM   #1
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Intermittent Low Water Pressure


If anyone would be so kind as to point out what could cause water pressure to be too low, especially if the degree to which it is too low (sometimes it's almost fine!) to change depending on the time and day?

Let me explain: This is a townhouse in northern Virginia. It was just purchased by my future wife, and the previous owners were DIYers...only in the worst kind of way. (We had to shore up a basement joist they simply cut straight through. Apparently they didn't feel it was important. Or the main water shut off, as it was completely walled up.)

Water pressure in the house seems to be fairly good (kinda, sometimes) at off-peak times. So, I could shower without problem at 3:30AM or so. Any other time, if we turn on the washing machine in the basement, you can get a trickle, or nothing at all, in bathrooms on the second floor.

Because the basement was finished by the previous owners, there are sections of plumbing I cannot trace to the hot water heater as it is walled up. I plan to rip down the walls, as I cannot find the PRV (Pressure Reducing Valve) that should be installed somewhere in this house. It may not exist, but given that the main water shut off was walled up, I wouldn't put it past the previous owners to wall up the PRV as well.

I've contacted the water company, and they were adamant that the PRV was the cause of my problems, and that it needed adjusted. I wasn't entirely satisfied with their answer, and pushed further, but didn't have proof. I'll explain...

I'm no plumber. I'll DIY a lot of things, but I'm hesitant to work with anything that could cause massive flooding. But before I call out an expensive contractor, I want to know my stuff. My understanding is that a PRV is designed to protect your internal plumbing from high pressure water coming from the city water department. I'm confused how having one set inappropriately could cause a fluctuating issue with low pressure. Were a PRV set too low, to my understanding, the pressure would always be low. The changes in pressure indicate, to me, that pressure is coming into the house at too low a pressure. The fact that both her and I have taken separate showers at the same time before tells me the pipes are capable of supplying pressure high enough to be 'normal'.

So unless there's a gremlin downstairs behind that wall with a wrench, screwing around with a PRV, reducing my water pressure, to extremes around 8am and 6pm, my guess is my water company needs to increase pressure in my area.

Cause really, I'd like to be able to wash the dishes and my clothes at the same time.

A penny for your thoughts?



P.S. I apologize for not being able to search for this prior to posting. I can't yet figure out how to search for two terms at once on this forum. (e.g. "low pressure" or "low flow") Unfortunately just searching for "pressure" turned up 11 pages of results.

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Old 03-01-2010, 04:45 PM   #2
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Intermittent Low Water Pressure


fox; Original Poster (OP) Poster #1;
This appears to be a City supply problem. Because, as you pointed out, at off-peak times the water pressure seems to be near normal. But. Additionally, you could have a problem with the PRV. or other plumbing components. I'm surprised that the sloppy, haphazard attempts at doing plumbing work (certainly below proper DIY standards.) didn't come up during Home Inspection!!

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Old 03-01-2010, 06:19 PM   #3
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Intermittent Low Water Pressure


check at your meter outside and make sure it is full on. there should be a brass fitting with an arrow pointing towards house. also some localities have a second prv at the meter which may need adjustment. I'm familiar with that area and sometimes your distance from the pump station can cause low press during peak use. do find the one in the house should be close to where water line enters
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Old 03-01-2010, 06:52 PM   #4
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Intermittent Low Water Pressure


Quote:
Originally Posted by tpolk View Post
check at your meter outside and make sure it is full on. there should be a brass fitting with an arrow pointing towards house. also some localities have a second prv at the meter which may need adjustment. I'm familiar with that area and sometimes your distance from the pump station can cause low press during peak use. do find the one in the house should be close to where water line enters
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Old 03-02-2010, 06:04 AM   #5
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Intermittent Low Water Pressure


Thanks for all the advice. I need to find the meter outside. I've no idea where it is in this complex and haven't been able to find it in my searchings.

I'll get a plumber out here as soon as I can.
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