Only getting 20 psi of water from the main (on city water)

by Nick
I am only getting 20 psi of water to my home and it is becoming a hassle to find out what the actual problem is. I don't think I have a flow problem because when the city was here to look, they turned the water off at the street, then turned it back on so it came just straight out of the iron pipe on the basement wall. The water maintained about a 5 ft spray and didn't go any further or shoot any less, which leads me to believe I have proper flow???
Also, when hooked up to a pressure gage, the water pressure will not build above 20 psi, no matter how long the gage is left on capping the main water line coming into the house. Shouldn't it build? Even with low pressure? Just looking for some opinions on what the problem may be. I've been told I don't have a leak, I've been told I do have a leak, I've been told its an obstruction. But even with an obstruction pressure still should build correct? Also, I don't believe I have a leak, snow doesn't melt over the line, the ground is firm, and when dry outside the yard is not soggy. Someone please give me an expert opinion. Also, would installing a pressure tank with only 20 psi coming into the house be possible as a short term fix?
  9 answers
  • Nick, you are correct about the pressure building up even if the pipe is clogged or not. It may take a bit longer for pressure to build, but it will over time. If you have old iron pipes and perhaps the township does as well, the water company may have a limit on the pressure so not damage the older pipes in the ground. But you would need to check with them on that . AS far as putting in a pump system in the house that will work, sort of. The pump will build up pressure in the house and store some additional water in a pressure tank in the process, however if your using the water over a period of perhaps a shower or laundry the pump will need to refill the tank and re-pressurize the system. All that is great, except that the water coming in may not flow in enough volume due to aging pipes. You need to check that before spending money on a pump system. I do not know what the volume should be as that is determined by the jet pump that would be installed. So the first thing to do, is check with the township and find out what the pressure should be coming out of your house. If it supposed to be something more, then they have some work to do. If its set low to protect the pipes in the street, you need to find out when they plan to fix. If its in the spring, perhaps you can wait a bit longer and use pressure raising type heads on the shower to give it more power. But if they have no idea you need to go to plan B. Plan B would be to first figure out what jet pump and tank you need to install in the house. Once you know that the supplier should be able to tell you how much volume will be needed to prevent the pump from going dry when running. Once you know that you need to do a volume test with a large five gallon bucket and a timer. Fill it and time it to determine if the current supply to the house has enough water per min to supply the new pump. If it does, put the pump in and you will be fine, If not Plan C is in order. Plan C is to replace the water line from the street. Ideally you should do this first anyway as once the street is fixed your old iron pipe most likely will rupture from the new pressure. Once the new line is installed, you will see a big difference in the supply but you will still need the new pump. Lastly, if you still have iron pipes in the house, be very careful when boosting the pressure, Like the in ground pipes, the inside can rupture just as easy. But if you take your time you should be able to correct this issue. Good luck and keep us posted on how you make out.
  • Nick Nick on Feb 05, 2013
    Thanks guys. Really confused on this because the numbers just don't add up. I'd also like to NOTE, that I live on a hill and about 200 yards from the towns water tower. I know that can be an issue at times, but the house up hill from me (same side of street) gets 34-37. I should be getting that plus 2 extra pounds from elevation change. The city commissions out their water problems to a company, and that person told me because pressure should build overtime and that their isn't a leek in the line, he isn't sure what's going on and he would get back to me. That was 3-4 WEEKS ago. Every plumber has told me different things. I am set & ready to replace a whole water line this Friday, but why should i spend the money when it may not increase the pressure? Also, I have no idea where my PRV is, one would think it would be necessary? It's certainly not in the home. I would like to believe that's the issue.
  • The pressure valve will be inside of the home. Pressure will take a sort time to build if the line is plugged. but it should be up to what ever the pressure is in the town in around 60 seconds worse case. I would continue to bug the water supplier for an answer to this issue. Most older homes do not have any methods to adjust pressure in homes, they are normally installed when the new lines are put in or if the town puts in new lines and increases the pressure to the homes.
  • Nick Nick on Feb 06, 2013
    Had yet another plumber tell me it's probably my PRV. The city is just giving me the run around because the PRV is probably on their end and don't want to have to replace it. Garbage and BS.
  • Nick Nick on Feb 07, 2013
    UPDATE: when speaking to the city's one official worker, he informed me that maybe I don't have a PRV since I live so close to the tower. I call BS on this excuse considering the house up hill from me gets 15 psi more. His recommendation was to dig to find it, if i even have one. Now I am left wondering in a city water system where the PRV is located??? Would it be before my shut off on the street or after the shut off on the street, more towards my home in the yard someplace? Any answers to this??? I think I'm getting the run around considering when I call the company that services the town, it goes straight to voicemail and has all week, with no messages returned. I was informed by the former water commissioner that water psi has always been an issue on my street and that the new regime squandered the money to fix the issue on other things. Mind you, i live in a town with 1000 residents, no stop lights, yet we have a brand new SUV police car, a new dodge charger police car, a car for the K-9 unit, 13 auxiliary police officers, and 14 spy cameras on order to be placed throughout the small town of Apple Creek Ohio. I wonder to myself, would a call to the states utilities Commision, EPA, attorney general, and my attorney light a fire up their a$$, or just make me a marked man? All signs point to this being an issue in the road, not in my lawn. Like I said previously, the person who is subcontracted out to fix water problems originally said I have no sign of a leak, nor should my pressure remain a constraint psi when I have a gage on it directly after the meter. Sick and tired of no answers to serious questions. Why should I pay for utilites I can hardly use? Minimum water bill in this city is $44.57 no matter how much water is used. This is a joke.
  • If you do not see the pressure valve then you do not have one. They are not buried in the ground. Where is your meter located? All PRV are located inside normally next to the meter.If all your pressure is from gravity and the water tower, You do not have a pressure reducing valve as the water pressure will not be much more then 35 psi anyway,
  • Nick Nick on Feb 08, 2013
    Ok, then I don't have a PRV, because it isnt inside by the meter. However, the house up the hill is still getting around 15 more psi than I am. So what's next? I'm almost 100% certain I don't have a leak in the yard considering snow doesn't melt over where the line runs, nor are any sink holes forming. Question......? If I did have a leak, would I still have proper flow? Or if there was a leak, the gage would be variable in psi, correct?, meaning it would go down with nothing running? No matter what time of day it's a constrained to 20 psi, even with a gage on the main into the house connected for long periods of time.
  • Nick a plugged pipe or crushed one will mimic a pipe that has a PRV on it. If you wait long enough however the pressure will eventually build back up. Also location has a lot to do with this. I know in my town early morning around 6 am and around 8 pm my water pressure drops a lot. Everyone on the same pipe in the street is taking showers, running laundry etc. But if I wait until after 10 pm or 9 am when everyone goes to work or bed, Pressure soon returns. In your case this may be the cause. In any case you need to find out what the township water company is supposed to supply you with pressure wise and work from there.