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The Dangers of High Water Pressure for Your Plumbing

Most people have a preferred water pressure when they take their morning showers. When you have high water pressure, it’s invigorating, and it really helps you to get moving in the morning. But, you can have a water pressure that’s too high or low for your home, and it can affect your home life in very different ways. If you’ve ever thought about lowering your water bills by adjusting the pressure, this is the article for you.

What is the “Ideal” Water Pressure?

This is a hard question to answer. People have unique preferences when it comes to their water pressure. But, most people want to save money without making any compromise in the quality of their life. This may seem impossible, but even if you only make minor adjustments, you can save a lot of water and get decent pressure. Most modern home plumbing systems are designed to handle up to 80 PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) of water pressure. Like many things in life, just because you can do them doesn’t mean that it’s a particularly good idea. Having a residential water pressure of 80 PSI would be a bad idea because the volume of water used would be considerable. A water pressure that high could also damage your water using appliances leading to frequent repairs and an earlier than expected replacement. Most water experts agree that the ideal home water pressure should fall in the 50-70 PSI range.

Why Does My Home Have High Water Pressure?

There are a few possible causes of high water pressure in homes. The most common factor is the location of your home at or near the bottom of a hill. The force of gravity pulls everything down, and that includes water running down a hill. This pull can make water flow faster into and through your plumbing system than neighbors on flatter ground. Another possible cause would be the local water company, which can have a higher set pressure for apartment blocks, commercial buildings, and fire hydrants in your area.

How Do I Know if the Water Pressure is High?

There are a couple of signs that you can look out for that will let you know that your water pressure is too high. First, listen out for a loud banging or hammering sound from your plumbing pipes. Professional plumbers refer to this as a “Water Hammer,” and you may hear it when you turn a faucet on. The sound is caused by the pipes banging against their fittings as water passes through under high pressure. Second, you may notice that your faucets and toilets leak constantly even after they’ve been checked. When these fixtures run even when they are not in use, it’s a good sign that the water pressure is too high for your plumbing system.

How Does High Water Pressure Damage My Plumbing System?

We briefly touched on this earlier, but it’s worth exploring in a little more detail because a home plumbing system is a significant investment. When you have high water pressure, it places a great deal of strain on your pipes and fixtures. That extra pressure has to be released somewhere, and eventually, that will be through the pipe walls or fixtures. The pipe surface will develop pin prick holes with very tiny leaks, and over time, this will turn into larger holes and cracks. The other key areas under threat are the seals, gaskets, and other connectors that connect the fixtures to the pipes. These will be weakened; water will begin to escape, and eventually, they will fail entirely. This can lead to a series of frequent and expensive repair bills, and the problem will not go away on its own. Until the underlying high water pressure issue is fixed, the problems will continue.

How Can I Reduce the Water Pressure?

The water pressure can be lowered to a more acceptable level with a water pressure regulator. There are a couple of possible approaches depending on the level of your DIY plumbing skills. You could attempt to install the regulator yourself, but this can go wrong, and you may have to call the plumber anyway. In our opinion, it makes better sense to contact your local plumbing professional first and get them to install it for you.

What About Low Pressure Showerheads?

You can purchase low pressure showerheads to reduce the water pressure when taking a shower. There are also high pressure showerheads that are designed to do the exact opposite for people with very low water pressure. These products are effective, albeit in a very limited way. Sure, you will save money when you take a shower because you will be using water with a lower flow rate. If you limit your shower to around 5 minutes when a lower pressure showerhead fitted, you can save a large volume of water. Even if you enjoy longer showers, the showerhead will compensate a little for the larger volume you could be using. The main problem with these products is that they don’t protect your appliances, fixtures, and home plumbing system.

There are many specialized types of showerhead on the market, and it can be hard to make the right decision. Many models have spray patterns, water softening, and other features to give you a spa experience at home. A key consideration is the health of your showerhead because they are the ideal breeding location for bacteria. The risk of exposure is pretty low, but daily exposure over a long period of time does raise the risks.

Finally, you need to think about the cost; some of these showerheads represent a significant investment. But, if they live up to the hype, they could save you a large volume of water to lower your water bills. A standard showerhead may use as much as 10 GPM (gallons per minute) when they are opened fully. In comparison, a newer design may get the same job done with only 2-3 gallons of water.

If you want to lower or raise the water pressure in your home, contact your local certified plumber today.