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High Water Pressure

High water pressure might seem like a good thing when you are taking a shower, but when it comes to the water flowing through a home high water pressure is definitely not a good thing. High water pressure can cause a number of problems including leaking pipes and it can even cause damage to appliances such as a water heater. Not to mention the water damage that may occur if one of those pipes or even your water heater starts seriously leaking. At that point, you may have to pay to repair any water damage or even replace your water heater.

So what is considered high water pressure and what is the cause? First, water pressure is measured in PSIs (or pounds per square inch) and a normal level for a home is between 30-60 PSI, though it can get as high as 75 PSI without any major worries. However, anything over 80 PSI can cause problems and may even void the warranty on your water heater. High water pressure is typically a result of the water from the city or whichever agency is responsible for delivering water. This is because the water has to travel uphill at times and long distances as well, so the city has to make sure it has the pressure to get everywhere. However, once it gets to your home, that water pressure needs to be reduced.

This brings us to some of the solutions to the problem of high water pressure. One of the most common ways to deal with high water pressure is to install a pressure regulator. These are typically installed at the water main as it goes into the home and they work essentially as you might expect: they regulate the water pressure. Normally, these pressure regulators come out of the box set at 50 PSI, though they can be adjusted. These work very well and are installed in most homes.

Once a pressure regulator has been installed, the plumbing in the home becomes what is known as a “closed loop system”. This essentially means that if the water pressure rises, the excess pressure really has nowhere to go since the pressure regulator stops the water from flowing back into the city main water line. That is why the California Plumbing Code now requires an expansion bottle to be installed on the cold line of the water heater if it is a closed loop system. An expansion bottle is essentially a bottle with a bladder on the inside and it is used to give excessive water pressure a place to go. If the pressure had nowhere to go, it could cause stress on the pipes in the home and even the water heater itself and that could lead to the water heater failing, possibly leaking water everywhere. Instead, the pressure goes into the expansion bottle and when the pressure drops, the extra water goes back into the pipes.

Typical expansion bottle installed on a residential water heater

Finally, it should be noted that there is a pressure relief valve on your water heater, but they can sometimes fail or won’t go off until the water reaches a pressure that may still cause some damage or fatigue to the current plumbing. This is why it is important to have other preventive features such as a pressure regulator and expansion bottle. That’s also why it is important to check your water heater and have it replaced if it is older than 10-12 years. There is a better chance of things not working properly – such as the pressure relief valve – on an older water heater than a newer one.

Now that you know a little more about water pressure, you may want to know what the water pressure is in your home. There are pressure gauges available for the average homeowner to use. They simply get attached to an outside hose bib. However, these may not be as precise as you might want, so we encourage you to have a licensed plumber come out and test your water pressure. When we install a water heater, we check the water pressure every time and let the customer know if there in issue and we give options as to how best to remedy the situation. Just give us a call at 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and we will be happy to set up an appointment to come take a look. Remember that high water pressure can cause leaks and even damage your water heater and other appliances and, in some cases, can even void the warranty on your water heater, so don’t delay and give us a call today!