Quite often I answer article requests for quotes all about things to look out for when buying a new home. I always share the same piece of advice and that’s to check the water pressure! I rarely see anyone else mention it and that’s probably because it’s not an obvious thing to check when buying a new property. It certainly wasn’t something we ever thought about checking, but unfortunately this turned out to be a costly mistake when we purchased our first family home.
Ben, my husband, had owned a home before and it was relatively new and had great water pressure. I’d previously moved around rented accommodation and sometimes the pressure was OK and sometimes it was bad, but livable. Even so, I still never thought to turn on a tap when we went for a house viewing as prospective buyers.
As soon as we moved into our new home we knew that was a big mistake. I turned a tap on and immediately shouted to Ben saying I think there’s something wrong with the water or the pipes. It came out so slowly it was ridiculous. Much to my dismay, there wasn’t anything wrong with that tap or pipe, but the whole house had the worst water pressure I’ve ever encountered!
It was so bad that I struggled to wash my hair in the shower as there just wasn’t enough force to wash the shampoo out of my hair! Running a shallow bath for our daughter, who was two at the time, took a whopping 40 minutes!
It was total madness and we had to call an expert out to assess the plumbing and water tank. It turned out we needed a pressure fed water tank to increase the water pressure as whatever system we had just wasn’t giving us anything more than a trickle of water. There was barely any pressure at all for whatever reason. Maybe it was just old and needed replacing, but I’ve no idea how the previous owners, a family of four, managed to get anyone showered and bathed each day! It must have taken forever!
It was far too frustrating for me and one of the first things we had to fork out for in our new home at a whopping cost of more than £2000. Of course this cost was also totally unexpected and not budgeted for so left us very out-of-pocket at what was already an expensive time.
Don’t make the same mistake as us and always remember to turn a tap or two on when you are viewing a house to check the plumping is up to par.
Below are some more facts about water pressure, what’s considered normal and what’s not.
Water pressure - what is right for your home?
Have you ever noticed the pressure of water coming out of your tap is not the same as the pressure in your friend’s house? That’s because water pressure is affected by a variety of different things; many of which you actually have control over.
However, how do you know what the right water pressure is for your home?
What is water pressure
In layperson terms water pressure is simply the amount of flow that comes out of your tap; a trickle means your pressure is low and a stream that blasts across your sink can be considered high. Ours was definitely a trickle, but now it’s a full on blast!
Water pressure can be measured in bars, PSI or head. PSI is pounds per square inch, which sounds like quite a strange unit of measurement for water coming out of a tap! The average home will have water pressure between 30 and 80 PSI. But just because it arrives at your house at 80 PSI this doesn’t mean that the pressure at your taps will be the same.
It is a good idea to reduce the pressure if your water pressure is at the top end of this scale or higher. High water pressure will place a huge amount of stress on the joints and washers in your water system; potentially resulting in one or more of them blowing. The result will be a leak which could be serious. You'll want to make sure you always have a number of a professional to hand for these sorts of situations, so it's worth finding a local plumber that you can rely on. If you live near Sydney then click here for professional advice.
To check if the water pressure for your own home is between 30 and 80 PSI if you have any concerns, or if you’re just curious, you can use a pressure gauge or you can call in the professionals to measure it for you!
Reducing high water pressure
If the pressure is near the top end of the scale then the easiest solution is to fit a pressure reducing valve. Ideally this should be fitted where the mains supply enters your home; this will ensure it reduces the pressure everywhere in your house.
If your pressure is in the middle of this range but you have pressure sensitive appliances, you can always install the valve just before the specific appliance.
Increasing the pressure
If you’re on a mains supply then your first step will need to be to contact the water board. They will need to test your water pressure and confirm whether it is within the acceptable range.
If it isn’t, they probably have a leak or some other issues in the pipes and will need to locate and resolve the issue.
If they say the pressure is within the acceptable range but you want more pressure then you may need to add a pump to your system. This will suck the water in and force it into your pipes at a higher pressure. You should be able to adjust it to get the exact level of pressure right.
You may find that the pressure at the mains is different to the pressure inside your home; this will indicate blocked pipes. You’ll need to take a look at the age of your system; it may be time to upgrade the pipes.
I can’t remember exactly what was wrong with ours, but we called out the professionals and chose to have a pressure fed water tank installed which totally did the trick!
More helpful articles when buying a house:
9 ways to start updating your home on a budget
Why I won’t use a mortgage adviser again
My top tips to prepare for a house move
Is buying a house better than renting?
3 ways to make sure the house you are buying is in good shape
Should I stay or should I go. Moving house decisions.