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Low water pressure question


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Question: Can I run my gas water heater even if my pressure is low, or should I keep it shut off in case the water stops completely?

 

Context: I came home yesterday to find the water main in the street blew. They got it fixed up just before midnight last night. I have now spent the last 12 hours trying to figure out why I have low water pressure through the whole house, and I have narrowed it down to either a jammed up PRV (pressure regulating valve), caused by the massive amount of debris the busted up line pushed through, or the county water company screwed up something, but they won't be back in til monday (I did check to see that they opened the main valve back up, which they did). I have been keeping the water running to try and avoid freezing pipes, as the low pressure makes that more likely, and the water hasn't stopped and doesn't seem to sputter or drop out.

 

Additional context: If I leave my faucets all closed, the pressure begins to rise slowly over time, before finally achieving what seems like proper pressure, but is lost within a few minutes of turning a faucet on. I have shut off water to the whole house, and purged air from the lines twice. I will be running out shortly to get an actual water pressure gauge.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Money_Pits said:

I have been keeping the water running to try and avoid freezing pipes, as the low pressure makes that more likely, and the water hasn't stopped and doesn't seem to sputter or drop out.

 

Low pressure could be caused by ice in the pipes. Myself, if I didn't have heat, I'd turn the water off at the street or where it enters the house, then drain all my pipes.

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I agree, I'd fill up as many containers as I could for toilet use and then purge the lines until I know more about what's going on. 

 

that sucks. :( 

 

where are you located?

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16 hours ago, Ωhm said:

 

Low pressure could be caused by ice in the pipes. Myself, if I didn't have heat, I'd turn the water off at the street or where it enters the house, then drain all my pipes.

I thankfully have heat, but my pipes are uninsulated in the crawlspace, so I've been keeping an eye on my water for a few weeks now, leaving it running all the time to keep it flowing. It appears my neighbors were not doing the same thing, which I'm guessing is what caused the main to burst, it likely froze over. We are a dead end street. Funny enough it's against county ordinance for me to shut water off at my main (though I have done it out of necessity before), I have to shut it off at my house. Problem with that is I'm about 150 feet uphill from the main, and that's a lot of pipe to leave water sitting in with temps having been in single digits as of late.

 

13 hours ago, Pete M said:

I agree, I'd fill up as many containers as I could for toilet use and then purge the lines until I know more about what's going on. 

 

that sucks. :( 

 

where are you located?

 

Yea, I've got a bunch of 5 gallon buckets filled up and some pails. Grew up with a poorly installed well, so I'm at least lucky enough to know how to be prepared here. I did get to teach my girlfriend how to melt snow and strain it to use for the toilet, she had a bit more of a privileged life growing up. I live in eastern Missouri, so of course after the 8 inches of snow and sub freezing temperatures we've had for the last 2 weeks, it'll be 60 degrees on Tuesday...

 

3 hours ago, MiNi Beast said:

be aware that they may make you responsible for anything after the main. some do the meter but just be ready for he cost. id open my pipes up at meter and ensure no junk in lines. ¹⅔

 

 

I am in fact responsible for post main work, and as I said above, I'm not technically supposed to touch the main. The part that burst was the county one just before mine, so I'm not on the hook for that, thankfully. They are giving me a 1000 gallon credit (for flushing purposes), which is definitely not going to cover the cost of a new regulator valve.

 

I bought a water pressure gauge, and I'm sitting at 30 psi with no valves open, that climbs to 45 psi over time with no valves open. With valves open, the pressure drops to 22-25 psi and holds steady for hours. I have walked my property (thankfully the marked the line locations) and I have no water leaking or bubbling up from the ground anywhere, including in my crawlspace. I did check the main to make sure they opened it all the way. So I'm thinking debris have clogged the regulator up, along for enough flow to maintain the 20ish psi, or to slowly build pressure up if I let it sit.

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3 hours ago, rokinn said:

Have you checked the pressure reducing valve?  It's likely filled with debris and in need of a good cleaning due to the work on the main line.

just got done replacing it. The line coming in is packed with rocks and grit. After installing the new one, pressure is slightly improved, but not perfect, and I assume it's now repacked with junk. EDIT: I would have just cleaned out the old one, but I'm pretty sure it was older than me and was pretty heavily corroded.

 

But now I understand why they gave me a 1000 gallon credit to flush... they didn't mean to flush the lines like I normally would after a boil order or leak fix, they mean to flush my actual main line. They didn't say that, or even imply my line was F***ed with rocks and gravel. I would be absolutely livid, but this was already just a $#!& week that I'm just too tired to be.

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On 2/21/2021 at 7:32 PM, Pete M said:

can you flush it out with the pressure valve guts removed?

Thankfully, I didn't have to. I went and cleaned out the new valve I just put in, and it wasn't as bad, so I did it about half a dozen more times and it cleared up :banana:

 

 

BUT, it didn't fix the pressure problem. County came out today, ran some water up the lines, said I may have a leak, but they turned the pressure up a bit at the main, and I'm now sitting in mid 40's with multiple faucets going. Not great, but bearable. As for the supposed leak, I never found anything inside or under the house that appears to be leaking, but the underside of my house is a crawlspace that is currently a bit muddy from a cracked foundation letting the melting snow in, so I may have missed a pinhole leak somewhere. Nothing dripping, no hissing, no slow runs down any pipe.

 

Through all of this, I was trying to rest and recover from a tooth extraction, but that wasn't in the cards, and today I had a follow up appointment where the dental hygienist jabbed my mouth a whole lot, so I didn't bother crawling under today. Temps are back above freezing, so at least I don't have to worry about that. I'll crawl back under tomorrow and see if I can find any sign of this leak, and if I can't, I'll call a plumber just to be safe.

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Your static water pressure should be between 45 and 80 psi.  Meaning only the valve with the pressure tester is open.  You can also determine if there is a leak by monitoring your water meter.  Leave everything off for a couple of hours and see if the reading changes.  If it does you have a leak.  If not you don't.

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  • 2 weeks later...

This is nearly all fixed up. The main leak was just the flapper in the toilet, I went ahead and replaced everything including the tank to bowl gasket. The next leak is one that could have been avoided in hindsight. After shutting off the toilet, I checked my meter and I still had a leak, though not as severe, but still a pretty good one. I had all other appliances off, so I figured it would be under the house (no pipes in walls thankfully), and immediately set about finding it, but couldn't. After two days, I give up the search, call a plumber, and go ahead and fix the toilet that I was putting off fixing while trying to find the other leak. And that's when I discover that the shut off for the toilet doesn't fully close :doh: . The toilet had slowly been leaking out just a little bit of water the entire time, and if I had just fixed that one immediately instead of trying to chase down the other imaginary one I would have been done with this way earlier.

 

I do still have debris in my line, I had to reclean out my pressure regulator and I know there's still more, but the plumber can deal with that.

 

Thanks everyone for the help

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