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chicagoRandy 12-09-2007 09:57 PM

Pressure Regulators
Any plumbers out there know the ins and outs of pressure regulators. Such as how high the pressure spikes need to be before you need a pressure regulator to keep your pipes from blowing out or leaking?

Iíve got a ten year old house and have had 4 leaks in the copper pipes (in the pipe not at couplings)since Thanksgiving and had another last March. All the leaks were on the return leg of the re-circulating hot water loop so we just disconnected it. Then 2 days ago a toilet connection tube completely blew out in the middle of the night causing major flooding. This is in addition to the 4 dripping toilet and sink connector tubes that we replaced last summer.
Iím beginning to think that I have a problem with the water pressure from the city main spiking and causing pressure surges. The plumbing just isnít old enough to be this worn out by itself. I Called the DWP (the house is in LA) and their records indicate that the water pressure at the meter fluxuates between 60 and 120 lbs/sf.

Could the pressure spikes be causing the leaks and are they extreem enough to justify installing a pressure regulator behind the water meter (and expansion tank)? Has anybody ever heard of 10 year old copper pipes being worn out and pitted enough to start leaking?

One other potentially significant piece of the puzzle, the house is framed with steel studs. We were careful to isolate the copper from the steel when we built it and none of the leaky pipes were touching steel. But they were corroded and pitted on the inside and we were seeing a little dirty water discharge when we turned on the hot water. If a copper pipe is touching steel in one part of the system could the electrolysis cause corrosion in another part?


jpplumber 12-09-2007 10:58 PM

The maximum recommended pressure is 80 psi, (I don't understand why the 60psi to 120psi spike in pressure) install a pressure reducing valve and also an expansion tank at the water heater. About electrolysis I am not so knowledgeable, and there seems to be varied info on the subject if you google it, but the pitting you describe may be caused by the use of acid based flux, some say it is caused by electrical grounding tied to to water pipes. The recirc line itself should be no less then type L copper as it gets a lot of water flow. Type K is even better.

cjett 12-10-2007 09:46 AM

I don't know how hard your water is, but a water softener will help stop the pin hole leaks in copper pipes, if that is the kind of leaks you are getting. I have a building that will develop these leaks shortly after the water softener stops working for whatever reason. Start the softener back up, water leaks disappear, after fixing all the leaky pipes of course. Hope this helps.

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