When you go to tackle that pile of dishes in the sink or wash off the day’s stresses in the shower, how much water pressure are you getting? A trickle just won’t do, but a hard deluge of water doesn’t feel very comfortable either. You want to test your home’s water pressure, but how will you know what’s just right?
The water pressure of a residential home should be between 45 and 55 pounds per square inch of pressure or PSI. To test water pressure at home, you need a pressure gauge. A pressure regulator can control water pressure fluctuations.
In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about testing your water pressure at home. You’ll learn more about what your water pressure should be, the implications of ignoring high water pressure, and how to treat both high and low water pressure issues.
Let’s get started!
What Is Normal Residential Water Pressure?
Before we can talk about testing your home’s water pressure, you need to know what a normal reading looks like versus one that’s exceedingly high or low. Although water pressure readings can be as low as 30 PSI and as high as 80 PSI, neither is considered the average.
Instead, you want a reading between 44 and 55 PSI. In some parts of the country, a slightly higher reading of 50 to 60 PSI isn’t abnormal. Yet once you exceed 80 PSI, you could have a code violation on your hands. Even if the pressure reading is not quite at 80 PSI but still high, such as 70 PSI, it’s a good idea to take heed.
How to Test Your Water Pressure at Home
How do you figure out what your home’s water pressure is in the first place? You need a handy, dandy gauge.
This water pressure gauge from Measureman on Amazon is available for under $15, so you don’t always have to spend a fortune on one of these tools. It includes a ¾-inch female hose thread.
Water pressure gauges won’t give you a perfect reading of your home’s water pressure, but they will be very close. For instance, the Measureman gauge has an accuracy rating of plus or minus two to three percent.
Once you have your gauge, here’s how to test your water pressure at home.
Step 1: Turn Off the Water
Before you test your water pressure, you can’t have anything influencing it such as running appliances or equipment that use water. That’s why you have to turn off all sources of water in your home first. Those include your dishwasher, refrigerator icemaker, outdoor sprinkler, washing machine, showerheads, and faucets.
Step 2: Pick Your Spigot
Where does your home get its water from? That will influence where you perform the water pressure test. For homeowners that utilize well water, you should test near the pressure tank of the well. Municipal or city water users should find their main water supply line and test that.
For every other type of homeowner, choose the biggest supply pipe, which is typically ¾ inches but might be ½ inch.
Step 3: Connect the Pressure Gauge
The pressure gauge you bought will install on the hose bib or outdoor faucet. If the faucet already has a hose, take this off by unscrewing it. Then thread your water pressure gauge to the faucet. You can often do this by hand, but if your gauge is leaking any water, then increase its seal by tightening with a wrench.
Step 4: Test the Water Pressure
Step back and let the pressure gauge take its reading. The needle will move, indicating your home water pressure.
What some homeowners do to test water pressure is use the cold-water supply faucet in their washing machine. You first need to turn off the washer’s cold water and then remove its hose so the faucet is unobstructed. Then you’d attach your pressure gauge and watch the needle move.
Can You Check Your Home Water Pressure Without a Gauge?
What if you don’t have a pressure gauge but you want to read your home’s water pressure anyway? Can you do it?
Technically, yes, you can. As for how accurate this reading will be, that’s hard to say. Remember, even water pressure gauges aren’t completely accurate, so you’d be choosing a method that’s even less accurate.
If that doesn’t bother you, then here are some steps to follow for gauge-free water pressure testing right in your bathroom.
Step 1: Turn on the Sink and Shower
In your main bathroom, run the shower and the sink at the same time. You won’t keep both fixtures going for too long, don’t worry.
Step 2: Flush the Toilet
With the shower and sink still running, flush your toilet.
Step 3: Watch the Water Flow
As the toilet water drains into the bowl, keep a close eye on how it refills. The pressure should remain consistent during refilling. If the pressure is low, more than likely, the water pressure elsewhere in your home is low as well.
We’d recommend buying a pressure gauge just to be sure.
What Are the Risks of High Water Pressure?
High water pressure makes showering uncomfortable, but behind the scenes, the water pressure causes a lot more damage. The rushing of the water puts pressure on the plumbing throughout your home. Eventually, the pipes will weaken, letting go. Cracks can also develop in the pipes.
If you’ve never had to deal with a burst pipe before, you don’t want to. Depending on how fast you find the leak, the water damage to your home can be significant, necessitating thousands of dollars, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs. In the most serious cases, your home would have to be demolished and remodeled, especially if water seeps into the foundation.
Signs of High Water Pressure
How do you know if the water pressure in your home is too high? Testing with a pressure gauge is always the most accurate way but pay attention to these other signs as well.
Malfunctioning or Broken Appliances
Your washer worked just fine two days ago, and so did your toilet. Yet now nothing wants to run as it should. The reason for this is the high water pressure caused the pumps and seals to fail. You’ll probably need a new toilet or washing machine.
Your faucet used to turn on smoothly, now it spits every time you go to use it. The issue regulates itself after a few seconds, but still, you’re concerned. As you should be! This is another indicator that your pipes are under a lot of pressure.
If your fridge has an icemaker, check its hose inlet line. Do the same for your dishwasher as well. Have these lines burst? That’s not a coincidence, but a sign of high water pressure.
Loud Plumbing Sounds
The first time you heard it, you thought someone was breaking into your house. Your plumbing lines make knocking or banging noises all the time, and these sounds aren’t quiet, either. Known as a water hammer, this sound tends to happen more after flushing the toilet or turning off a faucet.
How to Fix High Water Pressure in Your House
If your pressure test revealed that your home’s water pressure is way higher than it should be, what do you do about it? You should buy a water pressure regulator aka a pressure-reducing valve. This valve controls the water that enters the main waterline. Before the water gets to your other plumbing fixtures, its pressure will come down so it’s safer.
This Zurn Wilkins water pressure regulator on Amazon is made entirely of bronze for durability. Its built-in bypass limits water pressure, and you can also install it in several positions, which is convenient.
How to Fix Low Water Pressure in Your House
Perhaps your issue is with low water pressure. Although it’s less damaging, living with low pressure is still aggravating. You need to use more water to wash your hands, bathe, clean the dishes, wash the dog, or do anything else with water.
Low water pressure can be caused by the following:
- Mineral deposits: When hard water leaves mineral deposits in the pipes, they can accumulate to the point where water can’t flow freely. This is more common with galvanized iron pipes.
- Pipe leaks: If one or more of your plumbing pipes is leaking, the redirection of the water brings the pressure down.
- Open meter valve(s): If either of your home’s water meter valves were left on, either accidentally or after being pushed into that position, then your water pressure will not be as high as it should be.
We’d recommend checking both water meter valves and ensure they’re in the correct position. Then it’s worth having a plumber over to the house to assess the state of your pipes so you know they’re not leaking. Your plumber can also check for mineral deposits and clear these out.
If none of those issues is the culprit, then a water pressure regulator can again treat the low water pressure.
The best way to determine whether your home’s water pressure is right is with a pressure gauge. You can also check the pressure of your toilet as it refills while the sink and shower are running, but this method is less accurate.
Both high and low water pressure is detrimental to your quality of life, but high water pressure can also wreak havoc on your plumbing behind the scenes. Once you know that your water pressure is abnormal, it’s not a bad idea to call a plumber!