If you live anywhere in Los Angeles, particularly near a fire hydrant, the bottom of a hill, or a tall, city building, you might be experiencing some excessive water pressure in your home. Unbeknownst to many, continuing urban and suburban development has created an increase in LA’s water pressure over time.
“So what?” you might say. “Isn’t low water pressure a bigger and more annoying inconvenience?”
While low water pressure can be a frustrating problem, in actuality, high water pressure that goes unfixed could end up costing you much more time, frustration, and money in the long run.
How to Tell if Your Water Pressure is Too High
- Loud Noises from Your Plumbing - Excessive water pressure can cause your plumbing to make noises that sound like knocking or banging. These noises probably occur when you flush the toilet or turn off a faucet or when the dishwasher or washing machine stops running. You may have heard this referred to as water hammer.
The water hammer phenomenon is created when water is shut off suddenly. When water that’s quickly rushing through a pipe is brought to a sudden halt, that causes a hydraulic shockwave, which then causes the pipe to knock against other pipes or nearby wood. That results in the knocking/banging/hammering sound that you hear. If the force of water hammer is strong enough, it can dislodge plumbing joints or even break your pipes.
Leaks Keep Coming Back - If you’re faced with recurring leaks in appliances and plumbing fixtures even after getting a repair, it could very well be an indicator that your water pressure is too high. Even if fittings, seals, and washers appear to be watertight upon installation or once a repair is complete, a buildup in water pressure over time can force leaks out. You’ll also want to keep an eye on your water heater because excessive water pressure can cause it to leak as well.
Appliances Break Much Sooner Than Expected - No appliance is going to last forever. In fact, you shouldn’t expect your dishwasher and washing machine to last much longer than 10 years if that. However, if it has been only a few years since you’ve bought a new water-receiving appliance, and it’s already breaking down, the cause might be damage from excessive water pressure.
Water-receiving appliances contain seals and pumps that are designed to handle a certain level of water pressure. If a higher water pressure level than that is coming into contact with those seals and pumps, it can wear them down or break them prematurely.
Bursting Hoses or Lines - Your water receiving appliances (such as your washing machine, dishwasher, and ice maker), are connected to a main source of water through smaller lines or hoses. When water pressure is strong enough, lines or hoses can burst.
What To Do If Your Home’s Water Pressure Is Too High
If you suspect that your LA home’s water pressure is too high, it’s generally advisable to do one of these two things next:
Option 1: Measure your home’s water pressure.
Option 1: Measuring Your Water Pressure
To measure your water pressure, you will need a water pressure gauge that measures in PSI (pounds per square inch). These are usually easy to find at a hardware or home improvement store. A pressure gauge with female hose threads is recommended, as this will allow you to screw the gauge directly onto a hose bib/faucet.
Generally, you want your home’s water pressure to measure in the range of 40 to 60 PSI. If the pressure is much higher than 60 PSI, this could cause some of the plumbing problems mentioned above.
You can follow these steps to measure your water pressure:
Make sure no running water is being used anywhere inside or outside your home (including icemakers in your fridge, sprinklers, etc.). Any extra running water could throw off the reading the gauge gives you.
Go outside and find the outdoor hose faucet that’s as close as possible to where your home’s main water supply line enters your home.
If there’s a hose on the faucet, take it off, and thread the gauge on there instead. Use the rubber gasket to hand-tighten the pressure gauge until a decent seal is formed. A leak during testing can throw off the reading.
Turn on the faucet all the way. The gauge’s dial will show you the pressure reading.
If the reading shows that the pressure exceeds 60 PSI, it’s a good idea to contact a plumbing and water pressure expert at Bryco Plumbing to determine the wisest solution to adjust your water pressure.
Option 2: Contact a Plumber with Knowledge About LA’s Water Pressure
While one would hope that every plumber would take water pressure into consideration when it comes to recurring plumbing issues, unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. As stated above, leaks that keep coming back even after repairs have been performed can be a sign of excessive water pressure, and not every plumber thinks to check for this. Hopefully now, though, you feel better equipped with some water pressure knowledge should you need to contact a plumber in the near future.
At Bryco Plumbing, we’ve been able to help many Los Angeles residents with water-pressure-related issues.We take a personalized approach to each customer and genuinely care about your welfare as well as your home’s. Call (818) 805-0883 or contact us online to get started!