High Water Pressure Can Cause Expensive Problems

Tips & Tricks / Article
September 13, 2023

Low water pressure can pose an inconvenience, as no one wants to spend an eternity rinsing shampoo from their hair. However, it's important to note that high water pressure can present an even more significant issue than its low counterpart.

Excessive water pressure can lead to plumbing problems and accelerate the wear and tear of costly appliances. To gain a better understanding of the complications stemming from high water pressure and discover ways to maintain a safe level in your home, refer to this comprehensive guide. It aims to provide valuable insights and practical solutions to help you effectively manage your water pressure.

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: Excessive water pressure exerts continuous force on your pipes, gradually causing them to deteriorate and fail to contain the water. This can result in the development of pinhole leaks, leading to water damage in hard-to-reach areas of your home, such as behind walls.
  • Broken Seals: High water pressure can also contribute to the breakdown or accelerated wear of seals around pipe ends. Similar to leaking pipes, broken seals can cause water damage within your home. In some cases, a sudden surge in pressure can lead to a burst pipe, causing water to flow throughout your entire home.
  • Worn Appliances: Appliances that rely on water, such as dishwashers, washing machines, or water heaters, are designed to operate under specific water pressure conditions. When the water pressure exceeds the recommended level, the hoses and internal components of these appliances may experience excessive wear or even complete failure. This not only increases the risk of premature appliance failure but may also void the warranty.
  • High Water Bills: Excessive water pressure can result in more than just physical problems. It can also lead to higher water bills. If you are looking to save money on utilities, it's important to consider that high water pressure could be contributing to your increased costs.

How Do I Know if I Have High Water Pressure?

The optimal water pressure range for residential homes typically falls between 40 and 80 pounds per square inch (psi). To determine if your water pressure is high, you can employ a water pressure gauge—a cost-effective tool readily available at hardware stores for under $20.

To utilize the pressure gauge effectively, attach it to a faucet while ensuring the water is turned off. Verify that the gauge registers 0 psi before turning on the water. Once the water is running, observe the gauge's needle to ascertain the pressure reading. If the needle exceeds 80 psi, it may be necessary to reduce your water pressure.

While a water pressure gauge offers a reliable measurement, there are also alternative, though less scientific, methods to identify high water pressure. Indicators of elevated water pressure include:

  • Increased Water Bills: If you notice a significant rise in your water bills, it could indicate excessive water consumption. This may signal that the water pressure in your plumbing system is too high.
  • Noisy Pipes: When water flows at high pressure through your pipes, it can create turbulence and result in pipes vibrating, clanging, or shaking. This phenomenon occurs when water rebounds off the pipe walls, causing these disruptive noises.
  • Loud Appliances: Excessive noise from washing machines and dishwashers during water flow may indicate elevated water pressure. This can cause your appliances to work harder to regulate water movement through the hoses, resulting in the audible noise you hear. Understanding this correlation can help you identify and address potential issues with your water supply system.
  • Insufficient Hot Water: Have you noticed that your hot water supply depletes quickly, leaving you with only a few minutes of hot water? This issue could indicate high water pressure. The increased pressure results in a higher volume of water flowing through your faucet or showerhead in a shorter duration. Understanding this connection can help you address the issue effectively.

Fixing high water pressure is crucial for preventing water damage and maintaining the longevity of your plumbing and appliances. Most modern homes are equipped with a water pressure regulator to monitor and control water pressure levels. If you're experiencing persistently high water pressure, it's recommended to check your regulator. Adjusting it may help lower the water pressure, but in some cases, replacing it with a new one might be necessary.

For older homes that lack a water pressure regulator, it's advisable to consider having one installed, which typically requires the assistance of a professional plumber. By addressing high water pressure, you can effectively mitigate the risk of major plumbing issues caused by water leaks or burst pipes.