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High Home Water Pressure Can Mean More Water Damage

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020
high home water pressure

The water pressure inside your home can be a contributing factor in the risk of water damage as well as the severity of it. High water pressure stresses all indoor plumbing components—both the pipes as well as appliances such as washing machines connected to the pipes—and may make damaging incidents more likely. Where water pressure soars excessively high, a minor pinhole leak in a water supply line or seepage at a joint may turn into a major pipe rupture and inflict extensive water damage in a house.

How High Is Too High?

To reduce plumbing wear and tear as well as the risk of indoor water damage, most plumbers recommend that indoor pressure should not exceed 65 p.s.i. Unfortunately, water pressure in the main municipal water line your house is connected to may commonly exceed 100 p.s.i. and sometimes rise as high as 200 p.s.i. in some locales. A ruptured indoor pipe at that pressure will be especially damaging.

Is Your Pressure Too High?

You can purchase a water pressure tester at any of the large retail home centers or many hardware stores. This simple gauge has a fitting exactly like a garden hose that connects to an outdoor faucet or washing machine bib. Follow instructions to get a proper pressure reading.

What Can Be Done About It?

A city-installed pressure reduction valve (PRV) is often located at the house water meter to limit incoming water pressure to levels that lessen the risk of extensive water damage. If it’s not doing the job, here are two options:

  • The city-installed PRV may require adjustment to maintain pressure at specified levels or it may be defective and need replacement. Contact your local municipal water department for information.
  • If no PRV is present at the meter—or if the standard city water pressure specification is higher than you prefer—a plumber can install a manually-adjustable regulator in your water supply line, somewhere just after the water meter and before the line enters the house. This enables indoor water pressure to be fine-tuned to a more exact specification.

Troubleshooting Low Water Pressure & Other Common Home Plumbing Issues

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

Low water pressure becomes an annoyance impossible to ignore. Every time you enter a dribbling shower, open a kitchen tap and get anemic flow, or wait for what seems like an hour for the washing machine to fill, you’re reminded of this problem. Since low water pressure doesn’t fix itself and may in fact only get worse, simply ignoring the situation indefinitely isn’t much help. The sooner you address the issue, the better.

low water pressureLow water pressure may be a simple fix or simply one symptom of another, more fundamental household plumbing problem that requires professional attention. Here are some of the common causes:

  • Main shutoff valve not fully open. It’s a no-brainer, but worth checking. Sometime in the past, someone may have shut off water to the house at the main valve, then failed to fully re-open it all the way. Check your valve and see if you can open it any further. Don’t try to force it. If you still suspect the valve, ask a plumber to investigate further.
  • Defective pressure regulator. Most municipal water is at a pressure too high for residential plumbing. A regulator located at the water meter or somewhere on the main water line reduces pressure to safe limits, usually between 40 and 80 psi. If the regulator is defective or improperly adjusted, household water pressure may be too low. A plumber can check the regulator and adjust or replace as necessary.
  • Mineral deposits in pipes. Naturally occurring mineral content in municipal water — mostly calcium carbonate — accumulates inside water pipes over time, gradually reducing water pressure in the whole house. This is a worsening, systemic problem that requires a comprehensive solution to restore normal pressure. Usually, re-piping the supply lines in the house with copper or PEX pipe is the best alternative.
  • Underground leak. A leak in the main supply line may show few obvious signs on the surface yet still reduce water pressure in the house. Detecting and locating underground leaks requires the skills and tools of a qualified plumber.

For more information on low water pressure issues, ask the experts at Rytech, Inc.

What to Avoid to Prevent Plumbing Leaks

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

Anything you can do to prevent plumbing leaks is better than the alternative. Leaks from water supply lines, no matter how apparently small and trifling, should never be acceptable. A water supply pipe is under pressure and even minor leakage may be the sign of a pipe or joint that’s about to fail. Once it does, it can rapidly inundate the house with hundreds of gallons. If it happens when nobody’s home, the consequences can be even more catastrophic. Prevent plumbing leaks and you not only prevent needless waste and increased water bills, but you also may prevent expensive water damage.

prevent plumbing leaksCheck Your Water Pressure

High household water pressure — generally above 80 p.s.i. — may trigger or exacerbate leakage. A qualified plumber can test your supply pressure. If it’s above limits, he’ll investigate causes such as a misadjusted pressure regulator, typically located at or near the meter.

Replace Washing Machine Hoses

Cold and hot water supply hoses that connect to your washing machine are usually rubber with a life of only about 5 years. A leaky or ruptured washing machine hose is a common cause of water damage. Don’t wait for them to fail. Replace rubber washing machine hoses with braided stainless steel lines that have long expected service life.

Soften the Water

If the local municipal water has naturally high mineral content, mineral deposits forming inside water supply pipes may cause pressure to increase as well as accelerate corrosion. Installation of a whole house water softener will extend the life of water pipes — as well as your water heater — preventing a common cause of corrosion and plumbing leaks.

Don’t Let Them Freeze

Insulate all exposed spans of plumbing you can access. Seal any external openings that allow frigid air to contact water supply lines. When temperatures drop into the danger zone — below 25 degrees — keep the household thermostat at 55 degrees or higher and open taps very slightly to allow water to dribble out as long as freezing temperatures persist.

The water damage specialists at Rytech, Inc. have more ideas to help you prevent plumbing leaks and avoid water damage.

Common Causes of Broken Pipes

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

Broken pipes not only cause household damage: they make headlines, too. Recently, we read the story of the Missouri homeowner who was out of town for a brief getaway when a common water supply line inside his house ruptured. He returned to find that his home had been inundated with nearly 45,000 gallons of water in his absence. Broken pipes can inflict severe water damage to structure and valuables, as well as make a house toxic due to mold growth. Most pipe ruptures fall into one of three categories:

broken pipesFreezing

In winter, it’s a major cause of indoor water damage. Anywhere they are contacted by air below 28 degrees Fahrenheit, pipes may freeze and rupture. Pipes in unconditioned areas like crawl spaces and attics are at particular risk. Placing slip-on foam insulating sleeves on accessible pipes helps prevent freezing. So does sealing cracks and openings that allow frigid outside air into crawl spaces or exterior walls where pipes are routed.

Corrosion

While galvanized steel pipes have long been known for corrosion and rupture, copper pipes may internally degrade as well, leading to eventual failure. A major factor in the corrosion of copper pipes is the pH factor of the local municipal water supply. Water with a pH below 7 is acidic and over time corrodes copper piping from the inside out. A red flag is the appearance of pinhole leaks that “weep” small amounts of water. Because they may mask severe internal corrosion and an impending catastrophic pipe rupture, pinhole leaks should never be ignored. Contact a plumber ASAP.

Water Pressure

Water pressure straight from the municipal water supply line would be too high for your household plumbing. Therefore,  a pressure regulator at the meter reduces pressure to a safe level of about 40 to 50 p.s.i. However, if the regulator is defective or out of adjustment, pressure may rise high enough to cause pipe rupture. A plumber can attach a gauge to check the pressure, then check the regulator if necessary.

For more on recognizing and addressing issues that cause broken pipes, contact Rytech, Inc.

How to Avoid Pipe Bursts and Their Messy Aftermaths

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

Once a water supply pipe bursts, every minute afterwards at least 5 gallons of water will inundate your home and possessions. This can be something as simple as the half-inch line feeding a toilet tank or a washing machine hose. Water volume up to 10,000 gallons per day can flood the home if the main water pipe bursts. Until someone shuts off the main supply valve to the house, the flow of water and the devastating damage goes on and on. While water damage recovery professionals have the expertise and equipment to remediate almost any level of water intrusion, prevention of pipe bursts is always preferable to dealing with the aftermath.

pipe burstsGuard Against Freezing

In winter, frozen pipes are a common cause of ruptured plumbing. Anytime outdoor temperatures drop to 28 degrees or below your pipes may be at risk.

  • Install pipe insulation sleeves on any exposed water supply lines.
  • Seal exterior openings that allow frigid outdoor air to reach water supply lines inside walls or in the crawl space.
  • During severe cold snaps, keep a trickle of water running from indoor taps to relieve pressure caused by freezing.
  • If you suspect a frozen pipe, don’t wait for it to thaw to make sure. Turn off water to the house and call a plumber immediately.

Take Small Leaks Seriously

A small, apparently minor pinhole leak in a water supply line could be the external sign of severe internal corrosion that may result in a major rupture at any time. Look for signs of leakage where supply lines are routed and contact a plumber ASAP if you notice any.

Have Your Water Pressure Checked

Water pressure straight from the municipal water main is too high for residential plumbing. A pressure regulator inside your meter reduces it to a safe level of about 50 p.s.i. A maladjusted or defective regulator can allow household pressure to become too high, increasing the risk of ruptured pipes. Ask a qualified plumber to test supply pressure to your house.

For more on avoiding pipe bursts, or professional water damage recovery if one occurs, contact Rytech, Inc.