How to Tell if Your Water Pressure is Too High or Too Low - and What to Do About it

how to test water pressure

How to Test Water Pressure

When it comes to water pressure, there's a fine line to too high and too low. You need your water pressure to be a sufficient pounds per square inch (psi) of water in order to fill appliances, water your garden, and perform other tasks with minimal frustration. However, if your water pressure is too high, it will stress your pipes, appliances, and fixtures. That's why it's good to learn how to test water pressure and to check it from time to time, especially if you see signs that it's too high or too low.

How to Test Water Pressure

Testing your water pressure is relatively easy and inexpensive; you can totally do it yourself at home. Get a pressure gauge from Amazon or your local hardware store and simply hook it up to a hose faucet. This should cost you between $10-15. Turn off all faucets and appliances and check the pressure to record your baseline water pressure. If it registers between 30 and 80 psi, your water pressure is just fine.

If you don't want to get a pressure gauge and just want to do a quick test, try this: turn on both the shower and sink faucets in your master bathroom and flush the toilet. If the shower water flow drops while the toilet is filling, you've got water pressure problems.

Low Water Pressure

Maybe your shower flow diminishes to a trickle when other people are using water in the house(or appliances are running). Perhaps your washing machine seems to take forever to fill. You might hear a whistling sound coming from the pipes. All of these are signs that you have low water pressure.

But What Causes Low Water Pressure?

The following are common causes of low water pressure.

A Hidden Leak

One of the most common causes of low water pressure is a hidden leak. If this is the case, be happy you have discovered it - the longer a leak goes undetected, the most damage is possible (and the more money you'll waste on water bills). Check your water meter (click here to learn how), and if you decide the problem is probably a leak, have a plumber out who uses leak detection equipment (click here to learn about our techniques and equipment).

Mineral Deposits in Pipes

Your pipes are supposed to remain click and smooth on the inside, but you may have problems with mineral deposits or corrosion, especially if you have hard water or water from a source that has a lot of minerals in it. This can also happen if your pipes are very old and are corroding. If there has recently been a break in the local municipal system, there may be debris in your pipes. You'll probably see rusty colored water if this is the case.

Your Local Municipal is Having Problems

Once in a while we encounter a situation where the problem is actually the local municipality due to a break in a water main nearby. Call your local water department and ask if they are having problems of this nature.

High Water Pressure

Is water blasting out of your faucets? Have you heard the classic banging sound from the pipes (also known as a water hammer) when water is running? Is the pressure irregular — sometimes really intense and sometimes regular? it might feel fantastic in the shower, but you're worried about the impact on your water bill. Worse yet, high water pressure can destroy the fixtures, especially those connecting your appliances to water sources, resulting in leaks and wearing down appliances, making them break down sooner.

What Causes High Water Pressure?

Believe it or not, your home's location is probably the cause. If you live at the bottom of a hill, gravity may cause high water pressure. If you live near or in skyscrapers or fire hydrants, you might have high water pressure because the local water company keeps the pressure high near tall buildings or hydrants. It's also possible that your water heater is causing thermal expansion inside your home, causing changes in water pressure.

How High is Too High and What Can You Do About It?

If your water pressure goes over 80 psi (even occasionally), you should install a pressure regulator to your water main line. This will protect your plumbing and appliances, saving you money both on water bills and appliances and long term plumbing.

Unfortunately, installing a pressure regulator is not something a novice should attempt. It involves locating the pipes where the pressure valve should be installed, and that requires digging up to three or four feet around the edge of your water meter. You need to locate the valves and the pressure nipples, (triangular fittings on the end of the pipe). Then you need to turn off the water and carefully disconnect  the pipes from around one of these nipples. You will then need to determine which pipe directs clean water to your home, and unscrew the fittings. The water pressure regulator slides onto the pipe in such a way that is inside the pipe, and then the pipe need to be retrofitted, which often involves sawing off the proper length of the pipe. (Be careful not to saw off too much.) The pipes ends need to be fit together and the pressure control valves set around the new point. Connections are wrapped with tape and the nipple screwed back onto the pipe. Finally, set the water pressure regulator. Presto! Done!

As you can see, it's a complicated project. Unless you are skilled at home improvement project, you will be best off hiring a plumber who can finish the job quickly and correctly.

Charlotte NC Plumbers Solve Water Pressure Problems

Suspect you have water pressure problems and need help from a Charlotte plumber? Give us a call at 704-269-1066 or use our online contact form for assistance. We'll help you assess your water pressure and solve the problem quickly and affordably.

how to test water pressure

Article Summary

Quick question & answer: Why is my water pressure low?

Your water pressure could be low for several reasons. You could have a hidden leak, which you can detect by checking your water meter and have a plumber out that uses leak detection equipment. Your pipes could have issues with mineral deposits or corrosion, especially if you have hard water. Lastly, your local municipality could be having problems.

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8 comments on “How to Tell if Your Water Pressure is Too High or Too Low - and What to Do About it

  1. Laura Robey on

    I have purchased a small condo in a 9 floor apartment building. I asked the plumber to move the turn off valve from the living room to the kitchen. The plumber told me my pressure is too high and that the pipes have shark bites which are illegal. The home inspection did not mention any of these as issues. Is my leg being pulled?

    Reply
    • David Parker on

      Hey Laura, Sorry for the late reply my site was not getting me my messages. The shark bites are not illegal we use them when needed in the Carolinas and have no restrictions. I would install a pressure regulator if your pressure is high and it will tone down the high pressure. The home should not have any more than 80psi per code requirements on the individual units. The water main will need the high pressure to reach the top floors and maybe that's what they would need to work on. I am not a fan for liability reasons installing shark bites on high pressure pipe and sounds like they arent either which is understandable.

      Thanks,
      Dave

      Reply
  2. Jacqueline Tucker on

    Hello,
    I received an extremely high water bill from $30 to $114 after being away for 18 days during the reading. The water co. says several things could have occurred but the problem was mine. It was stated the pressure was 80 and that I might need to have a reverse value put in and that would be my responsibility as well. Tell me what do you think about this situation.

    Reply
    • David Parker on

      Jacqueline, I would make sure my toilets aren't running and check your meter. If you shut the water main off in the house and go outside to the meter does it still run?

      Thanks,
      Dave

      Reply
  3. Keryn on

    Hi I had a leak pressure test done it came back as 1000psi no leak but there was a leak at the metre I know the homes are only suppose 2 be 500psi I have had high water bills wen they use 2 be low can this cause high water bills

    Reply
  4. Joseph warren on

    I have a small problem. I tested my water pressure any outside line and it registered 130 pounds . There is a pressure regulator on my side of the meter rated 25-75 . Is the regulator gone bad? Trouble I'm having rite now is pressure relief valve on water heater continue s to run. Doesn't when u turn on another faucet. Do I need to replace the regulator and install a thermal exspansion tank ? What do I need to do?

    Reply
    • David Parker on

      Hey Joseph, You defiantly need to install a new regulator and set the pressure always below 80psi. The regulators are usually pre-manufactured at 55psi for installation so something has failed with yours and not uncommon. I would also install an expansion tank and make sure its set at the house pressure they come pre-charged around 40psi so more than likely you will need to add air once you set your house pressure.

      Thanks,
      Dave

      Reply
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