You probably know low water pressure can be an issue — no one wants to spend forever trying to wash shampoo out of their hair. Did you also know that high water pressure can be an even bigger problem than low water pressure?
Water pressure that’s too high can cause plumbing issues and wear out expensive appliances. Use this guide to learn more about the problems caused by high water pressure and how you can help keep your home’s water pressure at a safe level.
What Happens If My Water Pressure is Too High?
High water pressure puts excess strain on your plumbing system, including your pipes, seals and appliances that use water. As high volumes of water are forced through, the parts that make up your plumbing system are stressed by the pressure which can lead to a variety of problems.
Over time, high water pressure wears on your plumbing system and leads to:
- Leaking Pipes: High water pressure continuously puts too much force on your pipes. Eventually, your home’s pipes will likely wear down until they can no longer hold back the water. You might start to get pinhole leaks in your pipes which can slowly cause water damage in difficult-to-reach areas of your home, such as behind walls.
- Broken Seals: Your water pressure can also cause the seals around the ends of pipes to break or wear down faster than usual. Like leaking pipes, broken seals can cause water damage in your home. A broken seal could also happen in one surge, resulting in a burst pipe and flowing water throughout your home.
- Worn Appliances: Appliances that use water — such as your dishwasher, washing machine or water heater — are designed for a certain amount of water pressure. When the water pressure is too high, the hoses and internal components of your appliances are exposed to conditions that can lead to excessive wear or a complete failure. Not only does this increase the risk that the appliance may fail prematurely it may also void the warranty.
- High Water Bills: Physical problems aren’t the only issues caused by high water pressure. If your pressure is too high, you could also see an increase in your water bills. If you’re trying to save money on utilities, high water pressure could be costing you.
How Do I Know if I Have High Water Pressure?
The normal range for water pressure in homes is between 40-80 pounds per square inch (psi). The easiest way to tell if you have high water pressure is by using a water pressure gauge. These inexpensive tools can usually be found at your local hardware store for less than $20.
To use the pressure gauge, attach it to a faucet with the water turned off. Make sure the gauge reads 0 psi before you turn on the water. Turn the water on and see where the needle on the gauge goes to. If it’s above 80 psi, you probably need to lower your water pressure.
There are several less scientific ways to see if you have high water pressure as well. You might have high water pressure if you notice:
- Expensive Water Bills: If your water bills seem a lot higher than expected, you’re using more water than usual. This can be a sign that your pressure is too high.
- Clanging Pipes: As high-pressure water moves through your plumbing, it doesn’t have enough room to move evenly. The water instead bounces off the sides of the pipes and back into itself, causing your pipes to rattle, bang, and shudder.
- Loud Appliances: Washing machines and dishwashers that make a lot of noise when water is running through them could be signs of high water pressure. Your appliances are working overtime to regulate the amount of water moving through the hoses and the noise you hear is a result of that extra work.
- Not Enough Hot Water: Does it seem like your hot water runs out after only a few minutes? A short supply of hot water could be a sign of high water pressure. The high pressure means more water is moving through your faucet or showerhead in a shorter amount of time.
Fixing High Water Pressure Helps Prevent Water Damage
Most modern homes are equipped with a water pressure regulator to help monitor your water pressure and keep it at the proper level. If you’re dealing with ongoing high water pressure, you should check on your regulator. You may be able to lower your water pressure by adjusting the regulator, or you might need to replace it with a new one.
Older homes may not have been constructed with a water pressure regulator. If you discover this to be the case, you should consider having one installed which typically requires the use of a plumber.
Fixing high water pressure helps extend the life of your plumbing and appliances, while also helping you avoid major plumbing issues caused by water leaks or burst pipes.