Many older homes may have a destructively high water pressures. As construction of homes and businesses continue to expand outward from city centers, water utilities must increase pressure to reach those locations.
Years ago, water pressure regulator valves were not customarily installed. The line pressure coming from the street was acceptable and not a concern. The water pressure in your neighborhood may have increased to a troublesome level without your knowledge.
Is that faucet leaking because the valve or washer should be replaced? Do we need a new washing machine? Why is the water heater leaking? I have to replace the toilet valve AGAIN because it will not stop running? It could be extreme water pressure.
This is easy to check with a gauge available at any KC area home improvement, hardware store or plumbing supply house (see photo). Simply screw the gauge onto an interior or exterior hose bib and open the valve to get an instantaneous reading. Set the red needle at the current mark. Leave the gauge alone for at least 24 hours to get a peak reading.
The pressure should top out between 60 and 75 psi. Higher readings invite problems like those mentioned above.
This area home receives 110 psi from the street, which caused a new water heater to leak. A pressure regulator valve was installed in the crawl space (see photo). It is important the the valve be installed before the service line branches or connects to any other component.
Some do-it-yourselfers will not want to attempt soldering the copper lines, which can be tricky with water present. The fast and easy way is to use quick connectors that simply shove together.
Shut off the water. Cut the pipe with a rotary pipe cutter. Be patient and tighten the cutter in small increments to get a smooth cut and not crush the line. Clean/sand the pipe ends with emery cloth. Put on the connectors. Push on the valve. Turn on the water and check for leaks.
When you buy the quick connectors such as SharkBite, also pick up the release tool. It is just a small piece of plastic, but you will be glad to have it handy if necessary. Leave the release tool hanging on a nail beside the valve.
Set the maximum pressure by adjusting the valve to keep the pressure at 75 psi or below. 60 psi is preferable if there is adequate flow at the farthest fixture.
You have now extended the life of all your plumbing components.
The next article will deal with pressure problems caused by water heaters.