Doctors call high blood pressure “the silent killer” because it causes so many serious problems with our bodies, but almost never actually shows any signs that you might have it. Water pressure is the same way for your plumbing system: having pressure that’s too high or too low can have some potentially catastrophic consequences, but few people often realize that their water pressure may be as serious of a problem as it is.
The human body also has an ideal blood pressure (no more than 120/80). Likewise, your plumbing has a recommended water pressure of approximately 60 PSI. However, unlike a human body, you can’t really measure water pressure by simply strapping a meter to an arm—it’s a bit more complicated than that and requires some expertise. Instead, check out this list of signs that can tell you whether or not your water pressure is too high or too low.
Signs Your Water Pressure Is Too High
High water pressure is far more common than low water pressure, particularly in this day and age where water utilities often can’t keep up with the blistering pace of construction of new commercial and residential properties. To compensate, rather than building more and more water supply stations, these utilities simply crank up the water pressure in the utilities they already have. As a result, the water that enters your home does so under even higher pressure, and that in turn could have a negative impact on your plumbing fixtures.
Here are a few signs that your water pressure is too high.
- You are constantly fixing small leaks. A running toilet, leaking faucet, or slow dripping of water beneath the sink may not seem like a serious symptom, but the truth is it’s a sign that other water lines could be struggling under the pressure inside them. Water pressure causes leaks, particularly as pipes age, wear out, and become brittle. Other plumbing parts, including the rubber gaskets or seals found in toilet fixtures and water line connections, are often prone to wearing out and falling apart faster than your pipes are. Therefore, if you see some of these minor parts wearing out, your larger ones are probably on their way to doing so as well.
- You hear hammering or banging in the wall when you turn off a faucet or flush the toilet. This is a phenomenon known as “plumber’s hammer,” and it is caused by water inside your pipes coming to an abrupt halt once the flow is cut off. Water is particularly heavy, and when it travels through your lines at fairly high pressure, cutting it off abruptly means that the momentum needs to have somewhere to bleed off. When there is too much of this momentum, the pipe itself starts to vibrate and shudder in response. This creates the banging or clunking noise you might hear inside your walls.
- You are frequently fixing lawn sprinklers or garden irrigation. Lawn sprinklers and outdoor landscape irrigation are typically controlled by an automatic controller that is connected to electronic plumbing valves. When these valves open, the water flows through to the various heads and nozzles on that particular line. If the pressure that flows through to these heads is too high, the heads can burst right open, sending a jet of water shooting straight into the air or unfettered out into your garden. Not only is this a waste of water, but it can be a real nuisance to fix too.
Signs Your Water Pressure Is Too Low
- Shower water pressure fluctuating constantly. Are you constantly fighting for pressure during your morning shower? Does someone turning on the sink in the kitchen cause the water flow to dwindle even just a little bit? This is a sign that your water pressure isn’t strong enough. Under normal circumstances, there should be enough pressure in the lines to keep an even, strong flow of water to your shower, even if your supply of hot water dwindles or changes. (No guarantees that your water stays comfortable if someone chooses to flush a toilet, however. That’s a different story.)
- Water flow from faucets being inadequate. Do you have to turn the faucet all the way on to get an acceptable amount of water? If you have to do this for only one faucet, then you may have a simpler problem to fix. If you have to do this for every problem in your home, then your problem is likely that your water pressure is too low.
- Water pressure is higher at one end of the house than the other. If the water pressure is higher near the front of your property, by the connection to your water main, but weaker near the back, then the problem is likely that water pressure simply isn’t high enough to carry all the way through your home. Increasing pressure will rectify this issue.