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Does My Home Need a Pressure Release Valve?

Water pressure is a fickle thing. You don't want it too low where your shower dribbles like a leaky faucet, but you also don’t want it so high that it feels like you’re power washing your hands. Properly balanced water pressure is key to the efficient functioning of your home's plumbing fixtures and appliances.

Enter the pressure regulator valve (PRV): This small (but mighty!) plumbing device is one that every homeowner should be well-acquainted with. In case you aren’t familiar—or aren’t even sure if your home has one of these nifty devices—don’t worry. We’ll explain everything you need to know below.

What Is a Pressure Regulator Valve?

The PRV is the unsung hero of a home's plumbing system. Mounted on the main water line, usually near the water meter or shutoff valve, it's a small, bell-shaped contraption that's often confused with a backflow preventer.

Its fundamental job is to reduce the water pressure from the exterior lines to a safe, consistent level for your indoor plumbing. This ensures that your sink, shower, and everything in between are supplied with just the right amount of water pressure. If you've spotted a pressure gauge, check valve, or bell-shaped fixture near your water main shut-off, chances are you've located the PRV.

What Is a Normal Water Pressure for a Home?

The sweet spot for water pressure in most homes is between 40 and 80 pounds per square inch (psi). This range ensures that you have sufficient pressure to handle daily needs without causing damage to your plumbing systems and the appliances it feeds.

Should your water pressure rocket beyond 80 psi, it's time to consider a PRV. Consistently high water pressure can erode pipes, damage water heaters, and even lead to scary fails like burst hoses on your washing machine.

How Can I Tell If My Water Pressure Is Too High?

You don't need a plumbing license to check if your water pressure is too high. All you need is a pressure gauge that can be bought or sometimes rented from hardware stores. Simply screw the gauge onto an outdoor faucet and open it all the way. The gauge will then display the water pressure inside your home’s plumbing system.

Telltale Signs of High Water Pressure

Common signs of high water pressure can manifest in different ways throughout your plumbing system. It's crucial to be aware of these signs to address them promptly and prevent potential damage.

Here are some indicators to look out for:

  • Frequent leaks in plumbing fixtures such as faucets, toilets, or showerheads.
  • Noisy pipes, often heard as banging or hammering sounds when turning on faucets or appliances.
  • Rapid wear and tear on water-using appliances like dishwashers and washing machines.
  • Fluctuating water pressure, where the flow of water varies unexpectedly.
  • Damage to pipes, evidenced by bulging, leaking joints, or even burst pipes.
  • Difficulty controlling water temperature, especially in showers or sinks with single-handle faucets.
  • Premature failure of water heaters due to increased stress from high pressure.

If you notice any of these signs, it's essential to address them promptly to avoid potential damage to your plumbing system and home.

Why Is My Water Pressure So High?

Sometimes it's not your home that's to blame, but the city's water system. Cities located in hilly areas might establish higher water pressures to ensure service to locations at steeper elevations. As a result, however, homes and businesses at lower elevations experience higher water pressure.

While homes in these locations are typically built with pressure regulator valves installed, older properties might not have them. This could be because the city didn’t previously need higher water pressure and made a switch in the intervening years.

In-Home Causes of High Water Pressure

While the pressure of the municipal water supply is often the culprit of high water pressure, sometimes there are other causes that are unique to a specific property.

A few other common reasons for high water pressure include these:

  • A closed-system malfunction occurred
  • Pressure release valves in plumbing fixtures and appliances have failed
  • Sediment buildup from hard water has constricted flow within water lines

What Kinds of Problems Does High Water Pressure Cause?

High water pressure might seem like a serious issue, but it's a silent threat that can cause havoc because:

  • It shortens the lifespan of appliances like dishwashers and washing machines.
  • It can lead to pipe leaks and eventually burst pipes, a homeowner's nightmare.
  • It increases the risk of mineral buildup in your fixtures, hampering their performance.

Who Can Help Me Install a Pressure Regulator Valve?

When installing or servicing a PRV, you don't want to take any chances. Only a licensed plumber should handle this job, ensuring it's installed correctly and meets local code requirements. Meyer's Companies, Inc. is a renowned plumbing service provider with a wealth of experience in keeping homes' plumbing in top shape. Whether it's a PRV installation or any other plumbing service, we can be your one-stop solution.

If you suspect your home's water pressure is too much to handle, don't wait for the leaks to happen. Contact Meyer's Companies, Inc. for a personalized assessment of your water pressure and the peace of mind that comes with it.

Reach out to us online to request an appointment today.