If you’ve ever turned on a faucet or shower and been blasted by a strong stream of water, then you’ve experienced high water pressure. While it might not seem like a big deal, high water pressure can actually be quite dangerous. It can damage your pipes and fixtures, leading to costly repairs, in addition to raising your water bills.
That’s why many homeowners opt to install a water pressure regulator.
If you’re not sure whether or not your home needs a water pressure regulator, keep reading! This article will explain everything you need to know about water pressure regulators, including how they work and whether or not you need one.
But, first, a quick recap on what generates the water pressure in the first place and what a water pressure regulator does.
How is water pressure generated?
Most homes receive water from surface water sources such as rivers, lakes, or reservoirs. Before it enters your home, the water in these sources is first directed to water treatment facilities. The treated water is then pumped into pressure tanks across the distribution area. These tanks are typically located at a height compared to the area where the water needs to be distributed.
In addition to water’s weight, the height of these tanks contributes to water pressure.
Water pressure, in other words, is the force of the water flowing through the main. Low water pressure will make it difficult to operate your appliances such as washing machines.
High water pressure, however, is a serious problem that requires immediate attention.
What should the water pressure ideally be?
Water pressure is measured in ‘psi’ or pounds per square inch.
In most cases, it is recommended that you have a water pressure regulator if your water pressure is above 60 to 80 psi. Any pressure above 80 psi will harm the plumbing system while a pressure lower than 45 psi will result in low water pressure, making it difficult to use appliances.
Many factors will impact the water pressure that you will get. These include:
- the elevation of your home or apartment building as opposed to the height of the water tower/ tank
- the water main’s location
- number of homes in the building connected to the water main
- the size of the water main
In addition, the size of the pipe connecting your home to the water main will also make a difference.
An improperly sized pipe affects the final water pressure you receive at the tap.
What does a water pressure regulator do?
A water pressure regulator is a device that is installed on your main water line and reduces the water pressure coming into your home.
The valve is installed on the incoming water line to a home or building. The purpose of the regulator is to keep the water pressure at a safe, consistent level. This is important because high water pressure can damage pipes and fixtures, and low water pressure can make it difficult to get enough water for basic needs.
The regulator has three main parts: a valve, an orifice, and a diaphragm. When there is not enough pressure in the system, it will close off and stop any more water from flowing through it. When there is too much water flow going on, it will open up and allow more water to come through the pipe.
Now to answer the question “does my house need a water pressure regulator?”
Top reasons to install a water pressure regulator in your home
The water pressure in your home is above 80 psi
Typically, residential water pressure ranges between 45 to 80 psi. Any pressure above 80 psi will need a water pressure regulator while a pressure below 40 psi is too low.
But, how to know the water pressure in your home?
If you have wondered how much water pressure is in your home, there are a few ways to measure it. One way is to use a water pressure gauge. These can be found at most hardware stores and are relatively easy to use.
First, turn off all the water in your home. Next, attach the water pressure gauge to a faucet or hose bib. After threading the gauge to the hose bib, turn the water on and observe the reading on the gauge. The reading will tell you the amount of water pressure in your home.
Another way to measure water pressure is to use a pressure regulator. These devices are installed on the main water line into your home and can be used to measure the water pressure coming into your home.
To get an accurate reading of your pressure regulator, you will need to test the pressure by attaching the water pressure gauge to the outdoor hose spigot closest to the water main or pressure regulator. The recommended water pressure is between 60 to 75 pounds per square inch. If it is not within this range, it is a sign that you have a failed pressure regulator.
If your home has uneven pressure in different places or if you live in a tall building with multiple homes connected to the main water supply pipe, you may not be able to correctly assess the water pressure using the pressure gauge.
In this case, the best way to know the water pressure is to call an experienced plumber in your area. They have the tools and expertise to check the water pressure at different points in your home to assess if you need a water pressure regulator.
You use a private well as the primary water source
Most homes and buildings have a water pressure regulator installed by the municipality or utility company. However, if you have a private well, you will need to install your own water pressure regulator.
There are a few different types of water pressure regulators, so it is important to choose the one that is best for your needs.
If the pressure regulator fails, you will notice the impact on all the fixtures in the home, and this change will happen quite suddenly.
You are paying higher than average water bills
A water pressure regulator can help you cut costs in different ways.
While plumbing fixtures typically operate optimally at 50 psi, the pressure of municipal water in some areas can be as high as 150 to 200 psi.
The higher the water pressure, the more water that flows through pipes. This can result in not only
in wastage of water, but raises your water bills.
If you have been paying higher than usual water bills, it may be due to high water pressure. This is an indication you need a water pressure regulator for your home.
The water pressure regulator can be set to ensure water flows at a recommended pressure level to give you maximum water savings.
Your plumbing components need frequent repairs
High pressure damages the components of plumbing, resulting in frequent repairs.
For instance, high water pressure can make the pipes burst and cause leaks.
If the water pressure is constantly above 80 psi, it can corrode the pipes in the plumbing system resulting in extensive damage as the pipes become weaker over the years. This is particularly the case when high-quality pipes have not been installed at the time of construction.
High water pressure also can lead to a pipe breach. The risk of a pipe bursting is higher in winter. As water freezes, it expands, causing weak pipes to burst, resulting in expensive pipeline repair.
You can avoid these problems and extend the lifespan of plumbing components by installing a water pressure regulator.
Some older homes also may have galvanized pipes with zinc coating. When these pipes corrode due to high water pressure, it can lead to a build-up of lead, a toxin that can impact your health.
Galvanized plumbing that is corroded can reduce water flow leading to low water pressure and eventually close the pipe altogether. You may not be able to check the old pipes in your home for corrosion by yourself. Before installing a water pressure regulator, you will need to call a plumber for professional pipe inspection services.
It’s not only the plumbing components that can fail due to high water pressure. Your appliances including dishwashers, washing machines, and other appliances can also malfunction because of constantly high water pressure.
Although these devices typically have water pressure regulators built in, a water pressure regulator offers optimum protection, allowing these appliances to function normally.
Your water pressure regulator is not working
Sometimes, a water pressure regulator can fail due to damage, leading to high water pressure that you may not notice immediately.
Some of the signs of a damaged water pressure regulator include:
- High-pitched whistling, hammering, or banging sounds from the pipes when you turn the water off
- Higher than usual water flow from water fixtures
- Frequent leaks in faucets and toilets
- Higher water pressure at the faucet
- Bursts of water when you are washing dishes or showering
High water pressure can also be an inconvenience. You may have noticed how annoying it is to shower, wash hands, or do dishes thanks to the high pressure.
Bursts of hot water can also be dangerous if you have children.
All the above are signs of high water pressure. But, a damaged or malfunctioning water pressure regulator can also lower the water pressure significantly.
It’s best to call a licensed plumber who will inspect the water pressure and your water pressure regulator. In most cases, the water pressure regulator may only need a small adjustment. The plumber will also replace the water pressure regulator if it is beyond repair.
The occupancy levels tend to fluctuate in your building
In some cases, the water flow demand can fluctuate widely. This is typically the case if there is a large supply main to an office or apartment building with varying occupancy levels.
Here, a single water pressure regulator may not handle the varying water flow rate.
Your plumber may install parallel pressure-reducing regulators to address this issue. In this model, one regulator can be set at a lower psi flow than the other.
For instance, one pressure reducer can be set at 60 psi and the second one at 50 psi to handle the fluctuations in demand.
You may have an old water pressure regulator
With proper installation and maintenance, a water pressure regulator should last for many years. However, there are a number of factors that can affect the lifespan of a water pressure regulator, such as the quality of the unit, the water conditions in your area, and how often the unit is used.
If you have a water pressure regulator that is more than 10 years old, it is a good idea to have it inspected by a professional to ensure it is still in good working condition.
If you have a low-quality regulator, then it will not last as long as one with a high-quality build.
You can get a rebate on your water pressure regulator
If you are a resident of San Diego and have an individual water meter, you can get a discount on a new water pressure regulator of up to $100.
To qualify, the water pressure in your home should be equal to or more than 80 psi that you are not able to lower.
Get a professional inspection
Water pressure is one of the most important aspects of your home’s plumbing system. It determines how well your fixtures function and how much water your home can use at one time. If you have low water pressure, your fixtures will likely have poor performance. On the other hand, if you have high water pressure, your fixtures may be damaged or wasteful.
If you have concerns about the water pressure in your home, it is best to consult with a professional. A water pressure regulator may be necessary if you are experiencing any plumbing, water, or sewer line issues.
San Diego Plumbing and Pipelining can help you with all of your plumbing needs including water pressure regulator installation and repair. We even offer 24/7 emergency service with live assistance anytime. Call us today to know more about our plumbing services.