Under Pressure

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You might think that high water pressure would make for a nice shower, more water power to wash out dirty pans and make it easier to wash your car. Isn’t more always better? Not so with water pressure.

Some national and regional plumbing codes and most plumbing product manufacturers say that water pressure should not be more than 80 pounds per square inch (psi). Often, in some areas of Billings, including the Heights, water supply pressures can be more than 120 psi.

What is bad about too much water pressure?

  • Water heater tank explosions
  • Shorter water heater life
  • Banging or noisy water pipes when turning water on or off
  • Leaking faucets
  • Running toilets
  • Pinhole leaks in water lines cause damage
  • Increased sewer bill costs because sewer charges are based on water usage through metering
  • Increased hot water heating costs – if water pressure is high, the increased volume and rate of cold water flowing through a water heater increases the cost of operation
  • Water is wasted when running at a higher pressure than needed (twice as much water flows through a plumbing system at 150 psi as flows at 50 psi)

How do you solve the problem of too-high water pressure?

Install a water pressure-reducing valve, also called a regulator. They are easy to install. Usually they are installed above your water meter and before your sprinkler line, if you have one. (Your water meter will be in your mechanical room.)

Can I test my own water pressure?

If you want to measure your own water pressure, purchase a water pressure test gauge at your local hardware store. Screw it on to a hose bib (outside faucet, where the hose is attached) and turn it on. Whatever the gauge says will be your water pressure.

If you have a concern about your water pressure or want to have a pressure-reducing valve installed, call Rimrock Plumbing at (406) 855-7131.

Bill Manske, Owner and Master Plumber