Low water pressure in a household’s water supply lines is annoying at best. But many homeowners don’t realize that its opposite – high water pressure – can actually be detrimental to their home’s fixture lines.
The telltale signs of high water pressure include harsh showers, faucets that drip or hammering noises coming from inside pipes. Water hammer happens when flow – such as from a dishwasher, washing machine, or hand faucet – is turned off suddenly. A single hammer or banging noise is created when the surge of water through the pipes slams to a stop.
Ideal static pressure, the volume and weight of the water at rest, is between 60 to 80 psi (pounds per square inch). Over time, the excessive water pressure of above 80 psi can cause faucet gaskets, toilet valves, and other devices connected to the plumbing to wear prematurely, sometimes in as little as a few months. Even more serious is high water pressure’s ability to cause hoses and supply lines to burst.
The problem can sometimes be solved simply by adjusting an existing pressure reducing valve or by having one installed by a licensed plumber. Another solution might be a water hammer arrester. Commonly installed in newer homes, water hammer arrestors are air-filled chambers connected to the plumbing that dissipates high-velocity water flow before it reaches fixtures. For those considering new construction, problems due to excessive water pressure can usually be avoided altogether by having larger water supply lines (for example, ¾-inch pipe as opposed to ½ inch) installed closer to fixture groups. Upsizing supply lines later is an involved process that should be avoided if possible.
Homeowners who suspect they may have high water pressure can take a few simple steps toward a self-diagnosis. If your water source is a well, check the water pressure meter or buy one from your local hardware store to make sure it’s within an acceptable range. Those on a public water system can check with their neighbors to see if they are experiencing similar problems. However, this is not a sure-fire indicator as differences in pressure reducer valves and the pressure in main lines can result in variances in pressure even between neighboring houses.
To be sure, consult a licensed plumber like Mr. Dan’s for a professional diagnosis. Give us a call at 256.835.6244 to make an appointment with one of our technicians.