How to Solve Water Pressure Problems
LESLIE: Well, we hear from lots of you who complain about how to fix low water pressure. But what happens when you have too much water pressure? Is there such a thing? (chuckles)
TOM: Well, that might sound like a good problem to have but it can actually damage your plumbing system. And here to tell us about controlling both low and high water pressure is This Old House host, Kevin O’Connor, and plumbing expert, Richard Trethewey.
And guys, besides a lousy shower, if you don’t have enough pressure, you can actually damage some of your appliances.
KEVIN: Yeah, that’s right. To make sure that certain appliances work properly and that you can take a comfortable shower, most houses should have a water pressure that’s consistently around 50 to 60 psi – or pounds per square inch – but that’s not always possible.
RICHARD: Well, your water pressure depends on a number of factors like the distance in elevation relative of your house to the nearest water tower or pumping station in the town. Now, usually the complaint about water pressure is that it’s just too low, so you want to make sure it’s not something simple. So you want to check whether or not you have an obstruction or a corroded pipe. If it isn’t, you may have to consider a water pressure booster. Now this is a bronze pump with a specially-designed well tank and a combination of these two parts allow you to boost the pressure inside your house’s plumbing system.
KEVIN: OK, so there are solutions to the problem of low water pressure. What about the problem of pressure being too high?
RICHARD: Well, water pressure that’s too high can also be a problem. It can damage pipes and fixtures. You may want to install a PRV – that’s a pressure-reducing valve – right near the water main where the water main comes into the house.
KEVIN: Great. And to see a video of a water pressure booster and another video of a pressure-reducing valve being installed, go to ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: Richard, right now we’re talking a lot about using low-water faucets, low-water fixtures, low-flow toilets. What’s the effect of water pressure on those faucets and fixtures? Does it make a big difference?
RICHARD: Well, if you have too high of a pressure, yeah, those 1.5- or 2.5-gallon-per-minute showerheads can give you more than you want it to, so it becomes wasteful. But it also becomes dangerous to the piping system itself; it can cause water hammer, too.
TOM: Richard Trethewey, Kevin O’Connor from This Old House, great tips. Thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.
KEVIN: Thanks for having us.
LESLIE: Yeah, and you know, Tom, that actually makes perfect sense with all that engineering that goes into giving us those water-efficient appliances. The water pressure needs to be just right for them to work properly, so that’s good to know.
Well, for more tips, you can watch Tommy and Richard on This Old House Television. You can find local listings by going to ThisOldHouse.com. And This Old House is brought to you by Cub Cadet. Cub Cadet – you can’t do any better.