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Because water pressure is an integral part of your home’s plumbing, some of the most common plumbing problems are caused either by water pressure that is too high or too low. So what happens when your water pressure goes haywire?
How is Water Pressurized?
Municipal water is usually pumped from reservoirs or groundwater sources into pressure tanks located on towers or elevated ground. These tanks then distribute water to surrounding areas, occasionally passing through booster stations if the pressure becomes too low.
When water reaches your house, it should be pressurized to between 45 and 80 psi (pounds per square inch). Residential water pressure below 30 psi is considered to be too low, and anything above 80 psi is too high.
High Water Pressure
In comparison to low water pressure, which is often more of a nuisance than a serious problem, high water pressure has the potential to cause a significant amount of property damage. When water pressure is too high, more water than needed runs through faucets and into appliances at a greater speed. This can result in the following issues:
An increased flow of water means that a large amount of water will be flushed down the drain. Faucets, toilets and showers will begin to drip regularly, resulting in ever increasing water bills. As water is quickly becoming a precious resource, it is important to conserve it as much as possible.
A common side effect of high water pressure is noisy pipes. If you start to hear loud banging noises when you turn your faucets or shower off, it may be due to a phenomenon known as a water hammer. When highly pressurized water is suddenly forced to stop moving, for example when a faucet is quickly turned off, a minor shock wave is created. This shock often results in a loud banging noise that reverberates through pipes, and can usually be heard throughout the house.
Burst or Leaking Pipes
If water pressure is high enough, a water hammer can cause pipes to burst open or start to leak. High water pressure can also cause pipes to erode at a rapid rate, which frequently results in leaks.
Damage to Household Appliances
High water pressure decreases the life expectancy for household appliances such as washing machines or faucets. Dishwashers, for example, are built to receive water under average pressure. If they are subject to water pressure that is too high, it can prevent them from functioning properly.
Low Water Pressure
Low water pressure is far more common than high water pressure, and is often (but not always) the result of a burst pipe.
The pipes that carry municipal water from a pressure tank to your home have more than likely been underground for many years. Sometimes, these pipes have small cracks or holes in them. Under normal circumstances, municipal water is under enough pressure to ensure that contaminants do not enter into drinking water through these cracks, because water is only able to leak out. When water pressure is lost, ground water can seep into drinking water. Because this water has not been treated, it can contain anything from bacteria to pesticides, and even gasoline. For this reason, households that experience a dip in water pressure will most likely receive a boil water notice, encouraging them to boil all water before consuming it to ensure it is safe to drink.
Inability to Perform Basic Tasks
One of the most common side effects of low water pressure is the inability to perform water-based tasks such as washing dishes. Without adequate water pressure, these basic, everyday tasks become very difficult or impossible to perform.
Most people discover issues with low water pressure while in the shower, because we all know what a poorly pressurized shower feels like. Although bad showers are particularly unpleasant, they are often good indicators of whether or not you have a problem with low water pressure.
Just as there are many symptoms of poorly pressurized water, there are also many different causes. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of low or high-water pressure, you need to contact one of our qualified Art Plumbing, AC & Electric technicians today.