Having the correct amount of water pressure in your home is important for many reasons. Both high water pressure and low water pressure can lead to many issues and prevent your plumbing system and fixtures from working as they should. In this article, we’ll explain what the optimal water pressure in your home is and what steps you can take if your water pressure is too high or too low.

What Is the Ideal Water Pressure for a Home?

Ideally, the water pressure in your home should be around 45 to 55 psi. If your water pressure is higher or lower than this, it can create different issues. If the water pressure is under 40 psi, you often won’t have much more than a trickle of water when you try to shower. Low water pressure will also prevent your washing machine from working as effectively as it should, and it can reduce the effectiveness of your dishwasher.

High water pressure can be an even bigger problem. If the pressure rises much above 60 psi, it increases the chances of your pipes developing leaks. The issue is that high pressure prevents water from flowing through pipes smoothly since the water flows faster than it should. This creates lots of turbulence in the water, especially where it hits elbows or bends and suddenly changes direction. The increased turbulence can slowly erode the inside of the pipe and cause its walls to thin over time, which can eventually lead to pinhole leaks developing in the pipe. It can also lead to the elbows and other joints becoming loose, which can create a much larger leak.

When the water pressure is too high, it also puts much more strain on your plumbing fixtures and appliances. In most cases, this will lead to your dishwasher and washing machine wearing out more quickly or starting to leak. When the pressure is higher, your water bill will also be higher simply because much more water flows when you use a faucet or shower. High pressure can also cause faucets to continuously drip or toilets to start running almost constantly, which will lead to your water bill increasing even further.

One way to detect high water pressure is when you hear a phenomenon called a water hammer. This is not the only reason for this phenomenon, but it is a common symptom. Water hammers are a thumping/rattliing noise that is heard when you open or close facuets. Water hammers cause additional problems like loose joints, leaks and broken faucets.

What Causes a Home’s Water Pressure to Be Too High or Too Low?

High water pressure is a fairly common issue that results simply because the pressure in the municipal water system is high. The pressure in municipal water mains is often around 80 or even 100 psi, and this is necessary to ensure that all of the buildings in the area have sufficient pressure. When there are tall buildings in an area or hills, the pressure has to be much higher since the water has to travel upwards. Homes in low-lying areas or at the bottom of a hill also typically have higher water pressure. This happens because gravity causes the water to start flowing faster as it moves downhill. The faster the water starts flowing, the more its pressure increases.

While high water pressure comes from the municipal water system, low pressure is usually due to an issue with the home’s plumbing system. Rust and corrosion can build up inside water lines over time and slowly decrease the inside diameter of the pipes. This means that less water can flow through the pipes, which leads to a drop in pressure. An even bigger issue is if the home has hard water since this leads to lots of mineral deposits forming inside the pipes and starting to choke off the flow of water. Leaks can also cause your water pressure to decrease. You usually won’t notice a decrease in pressure if there is just a tiny pinhole leak in one pipe, but having lots of leaks or a larger leak will almost always lead to a noticeable decrease in pressure.

There are times when issues with the municipal water system can also lead to a temporary decrease in the water pressure in your home. This can happen if a water main is leaking or bursting or when work is being done on the municipal water system in your neighborhood. However, these issues will affect every home in the area, and the pressure will typically be restored to its normal level within a day or so.

How to Overcome Issues With High and Low Water Pressure

The fact that the pressure in municipal water systems can be much higher than a home’s plumbing system can handle is why many homes require a water pressure regulator or reducing valve. The pressure-reducing valve is installed on the main water line right where it enters the home. The pressure level is preset by the manufacturer, but the regulator can be adjusted if needed by turning the adjustment screw.

Pressure-reducing valves have a spring-loaded diaphragm inside them that automatically widens or narrows to keep the pressure consistent. If the pressure of the water coming into the home suddenly increases, the diaphragm narrows or constricts. This reduces how much water can flow, which in turn causes the pressure to decrease. Similarly, if the water pressure is suddenly lower than it should be, the diaphragm will widen to allow more water to flow and increase the pressure. However, if the water pressure coming into the home drops below a certain level, the valve won’t have much of an effect since it can only widen so far and allow so much water to flow.

If your home constantly has high water pressure and you don’t have a pressure-reducing valve, the easiest solution is to have a plumber install one on your main water line. If you already have a pressure-reducing valve and your water pressure is too high or low, you may need to have a plumber readjust the valve. Pressure-reducing valves can also break or get stuck, so you may instead need to have the valve repaired or replaced.

If your water pressure is constantly too low, you’ll first need to have a plumber inspect your plumbing system to determine the specific cause. Pipes that are corroded or clogged with mineral deposits should be replaced. Another option to overcome issues with low water pressure is to install a pressure-boosting pump. The motor pumps the water so that it flows much faster and the pressure instantly increases.

When you need any plumbing services, look for an experienced, trustworthy plumbing company. At Plumbtree Plumbing & Rooter, we have years of experience helping residents in San Jose and the Silicon Valley area with all of their plumbing, water, drain and sewer needs. We offer 24/7 emergency repair services. Whether you need help optimizing the water pressure in your home or any other plumbing service, contact Plumbtree Plumbing & Rooter to get the expert help you need.

Josh Gibson

Hi, I’m Josh. I’ve been around plumbing my whole life. When I was 5-6 years old my family built a home where I did a lot of the sanding of copper pipe and definitely some playing in the mud. Plumbing is a major part of my family as I am a fourth-generation plumber. The skills I bring to the job are a good technical knowledge of plumbing and code requirements. I am often complimented on my hands-on problem-solving skills.
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