Water pressure refers to the amount of force, or pounds per square inch, that water moves through pipes and water taps. Having too much pressure can cause damage to pipes and appliances, while too little water pressure can result in poor performance of sprinklers and showers. Understanding more about the normal pressure ranges and the causes of pressure problems will help you problem solve issues with pressure.
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Normal water pressure for a house is typically between 45 and 80 psi. Anything below 40 psi is considered too low, and above 80 psi is dangerous for plumbing components.
Normal Pressure Range
The normal range of water pressure in a residential application is between 45 psi and 80 psi. There is no specific suggestion about how much pressure is best for your house, since everyone's needs are different. However, anything below 40 psi will likely lead to poor performance of devices that use water. Building codes typically establish a minimum of 20 psi for homes.
Anything higher than 80 psi is too high and could lead to damage, such as ruptured pipes or blown sprinkler heads. High water pressure can also be wasteful since more water runs through the pipes than you need. Check your pressure regularly by attaching a water pressure gauge to an outdoor faucet and turning on the water.
Adjusting Water Pressure
Most homes contain a water pressure regulator. This device regulates the water pressure coming into the home since the pressure from the municipal water source is usually too high for homes. The regulator sits along the main water line, usually in an access panel, crawl space, or basement.
The regulator has a gauge on the top of the valve that points to how much pressure is coming through the pipe. Adjust the valve by loosening the locking nut around the bottom of the valve and turning the screw on top of the gauge to the desired psi rating. Tighten the locking nut again when finished.
Causes of Water Pressure Drop
There are a number of reasons water pressure drops in your house, but most are temporary. New construction in the neighborhood can cause a large drop in water pressure, as well as maintenance on the utility's water lines. Call your utility and ask whether it is experiencing a widespread pressure loss, and when the problem is expected to be corrected. If you're experiencing consistent low pressure, there could be a leak in your system.
In the meantime, you can increase water pressure by only using one water device at a time. For example, don't run the sprinklers and the shower at the same time. Choosing one or the other will increase the overall amount of pressure that's available to your home.
Water Pressure Surges
Sometimes, water pressure will surge. This is when pressure increases and then suddenly decreases. Surging water pressure can be caused when more than one device in your home uses water. If you are showering, for example, and someone flushes a toilet, the water pressure will be divided between the two devices, and the pressure to the shower will decrease until the toilet is finished filling. Surging water pressure can be avoided by using only one water-using device at a time.