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Old 07-23-2008, 10:37 PM   #1
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water pressure problem- need opinions


We have major water pressure issues in our "new" home. When someone uses the shower on the first floor, the kitchen faucet shuts off completely. Same thing happens when you use the utility sink next to the washing machine. The water pressure is not very good in the first place.

The previous owner was told that there was a new water line needed, whatever that means!

I need opinions on what the problem might be and how to solve it.

Thanks,

mommyto5cuties

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Old 07-23-2008, 11:16 PM   #2
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water pressure problem- need opinions


There are a lot of variables that affect your pressure/volume. Note : PRESSURE/VOLUME. They are not really independent from one another. You might actually have great pressure, but no volume of water to quickly fill the system and reach full pressure.

First question is are you on city water, or do you live out in the sticks with a pump system?

Second, what is your approximate elevation from your water source (either city meter, or pump system)

Thirdly, what size is the main water line feeding your house now?

Also wouldn't hurt to know if you're talking about the hot exclusively, or cold exclusively, or are both affected similarly?

What type of waterlines?

Sometimes problems like this really are better solved in person, but i'm sure someone around here can try anyway. These questions would help them get a good start.

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Old 07-23-2008, 11:23 PM   #3
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water pressure problem- need opinions


Ok, lots of questions I don't have the answers to but I will try to get them and post.

I am on city water.

Approximate elevation? What do you mean? Our house is on a sand dune. Does that help at all?

No idea regarding the size of the main.

Hot/cold affected the same.

Type of waterlines? I just don't know.

I will try and get the answers for y'all!

Thanks,

mommyto5cuties
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Old 07-23-2008, 11:23 PM   #4
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water pressure problem- need opinions


You said "new home". Is it a New home? or just new to you?
Most older homes were piped with galvanized pipe. Depending on the water quality, the life of galvanized can be from 10 to 50 years.

IF you have galvanized steel pipe and it is an older home the pipes are probably starting to load up with sediment, hard water scale and rust. this effectively reduces the inside diameter of the pipe. Smaller pipes cannot flow as many gallons per minute of water as larger pipes. With deteriorated pipes, the first fixture in the line will often "steal" all the available flow.

If it is a newer home and has copper or plastic water pipes, it's just a bad installation and the pipes were sized improperly.

In any case, the fix will not be cheap unfortunately.
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Old 07-23-2008, 11:31 PM   #5
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water pressure problem- need opinions


elevation means the vertical distance.
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Old 07-24-2008, 09:10 AM   #6
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Pick a faucet closest to the main water supply, as far upstream from the rest of the house's plumbing as you can find. You'll have to trace the pipes in the basement to find this faucet.

Turn it on full and fill a large container with at least one gallon, or run the water for at least one minute, whichever happens first.

Measure how much time it took to put in how much water; this should be your best gallons-per-minute flow rate.
Minimum [for a properly working bathtub] should be 4 gpm according to the 2000 International Residential Code. I'd think you should get >6 gpm.
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Old 07-24-2008, 09:50 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoyizit View Post
Pick a faucet closest to the main water supply, as far upstream from the rest of the house's plumbing as you can find. You'll have to trace the pipes in the basement to find this faucet.

Turn it on full and fill a large container with at least one gallon, or run the water for at least one minute, whichever happens first.

Measure how much time it took to put in how much water; this should be your best gallons-per-minute flow rate.
Minimum [for a properly working bathtub] should be 4 gpm according to the 2000 International Residential Code. I'd think you should get >6 gpm.
The GPM is totally dependent on the type,size and condition of the pipe and the number of turns it makes on the way, called friction loss.
Piping systems are designed based on "fixture units".

Definition: In plumbing, a Fixture Unit (FU) is equal to one cubic foot of water per minute. A Fixture Unit is not a flow rate unit but a design factor. One cubic foot of water is roughly 7.48 gallons. A Fixture Unit is used in plumbing design for both water supply and waste water.

Each fixture is designed to work with a certain amount of fixture units.
Hand sink = one
Toilet = three
tub/shower = two and so on.
To supply a typical bathroom usually requires pipes capable of supplying 6 fixture units of water given a toilet, sink and tub. 1/2 inch pipe is typically figured at 4 FU, 3/4 inch at 12FU so if the water pressure provided by your supply system is low, the pipe size may need to be bigger to provide the same flow. I have had to supply a one bath house with an 1-1/4 main to get enough flow due to only 34 PSI available from the city main.

Old galvanized steel pipe may be larger on the outside but the effective size may be smaller due to build up of scale and rust.

Your problem sounds a bit complex, with many possible solutions. Time for a Pro to sort this out for you by actual test and observation of the existing conditions.
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Old 07-24-2008, 02:01 PM   #8
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water pressure problem- need opinions


For me, it's going to be

read plumbing books first
fully understand the problem and the question
post

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Old 07-24-2008, 03:58 PM   #9
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water pressure problem- need opinions


Mommy,

It really sounds like you have a restriction in the water service piping. If your house is over 30-40 years old this may be due to corroded galvanized piping. If so, the only solution is to replace the water line and possibly the piping inside the home.

If your house isn't this old there are a couple of other things to check. If you have a PRV (Pressure Reducing Valve) the screen could just be stopped up. If you don't have a PRV the line itself could be kinked or pinched. You could even have a leak underground that is being soaked up by the sand and only leaves you a little residual pressure.

Here's what I would do to try to narrow it down. First, make sure everything in the house is turned off. Turn the shut off valves at the toilets off. Now go and look at your water meter. Nothing should be turning on the meter. If it is there is a good chance you have a leak. You should probably call a plumber if this is the case.

If there is no leak, go to a plumbing supply and get a water pressure gauge that screws onto a hose thread. You might even find one at a Home Depot type store. Remove one of your washing machine hoses and screw the gauge on in it's place. (Make sure you turn the valve off before you remove the hose). Now open the valve and see what the gauge reads. You should probably have between 40 and 70 psi. Give it a minute and make sure it is steady. Now open a faucet and see how much the pressure drops. It should only go down 10 psi or so in a "normal" situation. If it drops to almost nothing, you most likely have some sort of restriction. If you are sure you don't have a PRV you should probably call a plumber now also, but at least you will be informed as to what the possibilities are and should be able to minimize the cost of the call.

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