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 having not enough 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 Pressure Range
The normal range of water pressure in a residential application is between 40 psi and 80 psi. There is no specific rule 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. Anything higher than 80 psi could lead to damage, such as blown sprinkler heads or ruptured pipes. Check your pressure regularly by attaching a pressure gauge to an outdoor faucet and turning on the water.
Adjusting Water Pressure
Most homes contain a water pressure regulator. This device regulates how much pressure water is allowed to enter a home with. 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 why water pressure would drop 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. 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.
Heath Robert has been a professional writer since 2001. Covering news, politics and local communities, he has worked for daily newspapers across Colorado, including the "Columbine Courier" and the "Colorado Statesman." Robert holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in journalism and political science.