What You Need to Know About Plumbing in San Diego, Part 3: Water Pressure

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Benefits of Maintaining Proper Level of Water Pressure in Your Home

Water pressure is what determines the flow of water from the faucet. The more water that is forced through a pipe, the more pressure there will naturally be. Higher water pressure will create greater water flow through any pipe size.

According to the California Plumbing Code, you are required to have water pressure on your property if the pressure in your area is more than 80 pounds per square inch. It is required because of the following benefits:

  • If water pressure is too forceful, it can destroy the pipes and cause significant and expensive damage. This becomes even more likely over time as the pipes corrode and become weaker throughout the years, and this can depend on the kind of pipe that was used. Some builders do not use the highest quality pipes on initial buildouts in order to save construction costs.
  • High water pressure will lead to increased water usage and inflate the utility bill.
  • High water pressure is a common cause of leaks from various fixtures.

If you would like to figure out the status of your water pressure situation, the first step is to test your water pressure. A professional plumber like the ones on the team at John Padilla Plumbing, Inc. will be able to help you understand the quality of your water pressure. Water pressure in the 50-80 range is considered normal, and if your water is outside of that range, we will need to work to solve the issue.

Like many home services projects, the solution for water pressure can range from simple to complex. Sometimes, the solution might be as simple as installing a pressure regulator. Other times, it might be a sign that you are already having issues with the pipes that are preventing the water from flowing properly. The most common causes of low water pressure include:

  • The water meter valve might not be fully open

Most homes have two major shutoff valves that control the water to the home. The first is the water meter valve, which is located next to the water meter on the main city supply pipe serving the home. This valve is not normally in use because it belongs to the water company. It is usually only used by water company and by water company personnel. If your water pressure is low throughout the home, this valve might not be fully open.

If you have noticed a drop in the water pressure throughout a house, checking the meter valve can help. It is typically located on an outside wall of the house in an underground box between the house and the street. The valve is fully open when the handle is parallel with the water pipe. If it is set at an angle to the pipe, it is not fully open as it should be and can affect the water pressure.

  • The main shutoff valve might not be fully open

There is another main shutoff valve in the home’s shutoff. This is usually located inside the house where the main city supply pipe enters the home through the foundation wall. The valve should be fully open. If it is a gate valve with a wheel-like handle, it is necessary to make sure the handle is turned fully counterclockwise.

If it is a ball valve with a lever handle, the handle should be parallel to the pipe direction in order to be fully open. It is possible that the main shutoff valve could be partially close after a repair has been done to the system. If your water pressure has been decreasing recently, it is possible that this valve is not fully open and it needs to be corrected.

  • The pressure regulator is failing

Pressure regulators are responsible for reducing a supply pressure to a lower outlet pressure and to maintain the outlet pressure despite fluctuations in the inlet pressure. When we talk about inlet pressure, or pump intake pressure, we are talking about the pressure available where the suction pipe meets the booster pump. The inlet pressure can be positive or negative, but it typically occurs when the booster needs to suck water from tanks that are placed below the booster.

If the pressure regulator fails, you will notice the impact on all the fixtures in the home, and this change will happen quite suddenly. To get a reading of your pressure regulator, you will need to test the pressure by attaching a water pressure gauge to the outdoor hose spigot closest to the water main or pressure regulator. The recommended water pressure is between 52 to 75 pounds per square inch. If it is not within this range, it is a sign that you have a failed pressure regulator.

  • You have old steel water pipes

When galvanized pipes age, the zinc coating and pipes corrode. Lead is a dangerous toxin that tends to build up when pipes corrode. Galvanized plumbing can pose a health hazard if it is not replaced with safer, more sophisticated pipes. If galvanized plumbing becomes corroded to the point that it significantly reduces water flow, the result can be low water pressure. You might not be able to see the corrosion without the help of a professional, but it will gradually close the pipe, at which point you will most certainly notice. This is definitely a factor to take note of if you move into a house with older plumbing.

How to Increase Water Pressure in the Home

Low water pressure is a common problem, and there are plenty of reasons why, as this blog has shown. If you find yourself with lower water pressure than you prefer, here are some helpful steps to take:

  • Check water pressure in the whole house

It is important to figure out if the water pressure issue is going on in the whole house or is isolated to one area. You can begin by seeing if the showerhead is clogged or not, removing it, and measuring the level of water that flows out of the shower arm and into a bucket. If you collect around 8 to 10 gallons per minute, the shower head might be the issue. If the flow is less than that, you will need to clean or replace the shower valve.

  • Check the pressure-reducing valve

A pressure-reducing valve is an important way to protect pipes, fixtures, and water-using appliances from damage or breaks. If your gauge is showing that the entire house has low water pressure, it is time to adjust the pressure-reducing valve. To do this, you can look on the main supply pipe near the water meter for a conical valve with a bolt sticking out of the cone. If you would like to raise the pressure, turn the bolt clockwise after loosening its locknut. Watch the gauge to make sure the pressure is within bounds and retighten the locknut.

  • Check the pressure booster in the house

A booster pump is a machine that will increase the pressure of a fluid. The pressure that the booster pump must provide makes up the difference between the required system pressure and the existing pump pressure. This pressure difference is the pressure boost that the booster pump needs to supply at the desired flow rate in order to fulfill the application requirements. To adjust the pressure on a booster pump, turn nut #2 clockwise. The switch should never be adjusted to cut-on below 20 PSI, or cut-off above 60 PSI. The pressure in a well pump system must keep a set relationship.

Can a Plumber Fix Water Pressure?

If you are having trouble with your water pressure, a plumber like the ones on the team at John Padilla Plumbing, Inc. has the expertise and knowledge to help. We can bring in a scope to find the clog and solve the issue. We will also work to get to the bottom of any pipe corrosion. This can cause a variety of health problems, so if you think this might be the cause of your water pressure, our team would be happy to assist. We will also look out for issues like problematic pipes, faulty pressure regulators, and an inadequate water supply line. If you would like us to install a water pressure regulator so you do not experience these issues in the future, you can experience the following benefits:

  • Saving your plumbing fixtures

Water that rushes through the pipes and into the faucets adds lots of stress to them. If we install a regulator, it will help set the ideal pressure that extends the life of the fixtures and ensures that your showers are comfortable and effective.

  • Saving your appliances

When water runs through your appliances, this also brings stress to them. Regulating water flow will help protect your appliances and reduce the number of repairs and expensive replacement parts that is necessary, and extend the lifespan of the appliance.

  • Reducing flood risk

When cities make changes like switching to a new water main, it is possible that there will be changes in the water pressure as well. Not only can this lead to unfortunate and illegal water pressure changes, but it can also damage your washing machine hose. When we install a water pressure regulator, it will reduce flood risk and help negate these other issues in the process.

If you are ready to learn more about the importance of water pressure in San Diego, call John Padilla Plumbing, Inc. at (858) 375-5633 or contact us online.

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