Low water pressure

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    • #277989
      Avatar photoGraham Nissen

        Hello, I live in a 80year old three story house with city water service, copper pipes inside the house and 3/4inch galvanized steel pipe from the basement to the curb. The house is heated with hotwater radiators from an oil furnace and we also have an 80gallon gas hot water heater. Pressure has steadily decreased in the past two years to the point where taking a shower on the second floor is nearly impossible. What I did so far trying to troubleshoot the problem was to check the water pressure with a gauge and the best I got was 15PSI right after the water meter in the basement. Regarding flowrate I measured 1.9 gallons per minute coming from the cold water tap in the basement sink. In the second floor bathroom I measure .5 gallons per minute. Note the hot water measures the same. After reading other posts I replaced all the old galvanized pipe up to the water meter in the basement with 3/4inch copper. I also replaced all the gate valves with ball valves except for the one that is located in the basement between the city water meter and the floor. To replace that one I would have to have the city shut the water off at the curb. After all this work the low water pressure problem remained the same. I did call the city and asked them to check their meter but they came out and claimed that the problem has to be with the old galvanized pipe going to the curb and that the screen in the meter would not cause low water pressure because the screen has large holes which allows most particles to pass through? Question one, “Would the only old gate valve remaining, which does shut on/off, restrict water pressure or flow?” I understand that old galvanized pipe corrodes from the inside and the diameter is decreased which would cause the flowrate to decrease. But doesn’t water pressure remain the same regardless of the inside diameter of the pipe? I believe that the city is not delivering enough water pressure regardless of the old steel pipes but I have no way of prooving it without paying thousands to replace 80ft of steel pipe to the curb. The city contends its not their problem because no one else is complaining about low water pressure yet when they came to the house they didn’t take a pressure test or test the flow rate. Once they saw the old steel pipe they convinced themselves that was the problem. Thus I’m at the point where I need to have the water shut off at the curb so I can replace the last remaining old gate valve but do you think that would make a difference? I looked into pressure boosting systems but one of the companies I contacted said that we don’t have enough flow (gallons per min) for their booster system to work. They said I would need to have a 250gallon storage tank in addition to the booster pump? What do you think? I believe since we already have an 80gallon hot water heater and a low pressure(low flow) shower head we wouldn’t run a booster pump dry? The problem is a matter of money to replace the steel pipes could cost $4000-$6000 and a booster system with tank would cost $1700. I wonder if after spending the money and replacing the pipes and the problem remains would the city say well maybe we’ll increase the pressure for your street? Or do you think we should try a booster system? I realize I should poll some of the neighbors to see if they are having a similar problem but not reporting it because they think it’ll fix itself eventually or someone else probably already reported the problem? Thankyou in advance.

      • #297498
        Avatar photoRetired plbg1

          Your trouble is the gal. pipe from your house to the street. You should replace it with 1″ copper and yor trouble should be over. Get in touch with a Lic. Plumber and have it done.

          Art retired plbg

        • #301832
          Avatar phototrentonnewjersey

            One year later. I wanted to update my low water pressure problem and try to be brief. I had the city check to see if the problem was between the water main and the curb valve before I spent any money replacing pipes. The curb valve had to be dug up because it was buried deep with the top missing. The city thought there might be a leak and replaced all the pipes from the main to the curb valve. After that the problem was still there and those pipes replaced were fine afterall. Now atleast I could shut off the water at the curb valve so I replaced the water main valve in the basement with a ball valve. No difference. I dug up the concrete floor two feet down and replaced the 90degree elbow that went towards the street. No difference. I bought a 35ft. 1/4inch snake and ran it through the pipe from the basement and found no obstructions at all. The old one inch galvanized pipe seemed OK for atleast the first 35ft. I bought a 75ft. 3/8inch snake and ran it out approximately 50ft.(length to the street was 65ft.) I hit an obstruction so I attached a power drill to the snake and tried to drill out the obstruction. I drilled and drilled with this contraption I made and what came out was a black paste? As it turned out the sediment from 80years lied at the lowest point in the pipe which was the first 15ft. from the curb to the house, our house is up on a hill. Drilling turned the sediment into a thick black paste but after hours I could not get it out and eventually I ruptured the pipe where the drill could not go any further. Then we had absolutely no water and a spring in the front lawn. With the water shut off at the curb valve and a good neighbor allowed us to tap into their garden hose bib which allowed us to run our whole house temporarily. I got three estimates from plumbers which ranged from $2900.00 to $5000.00 to replace the whole 65ft. of water main with one inch copper. We went with the contractor who was the most expensive only because they were the most professional with uniformed employees and detailed written estimates. Also we wanted to minimize the destruction to the front lawn, landscaping, concrete sidewalks and they agreed to atleast try to pull the pipe out by digging a single whole at the curb and using a backhoe pull the old pipe out and pull a new one in at the same time. They tried but it was down too deep so they had to cut out ten feet of sidewalk and trench half way through the lawn before they could pull it out. They saved us a lot of money because the landscaping and sidewalk near the front of the house would of been expensive to replace. Also since they cut the sidewalk at the curb with a concrete saw and lifted the slabs out with the backhoe they were able to drop the 5ft 5ft sections back into place only breaking one of them(which I later replaced myself). The job cost $5000.00 plus $600.00 in concrete and sod. I know everyone told me it would have to be replaced but I don’t regret replacing all the old gate valves in the house with new ball valves and buying $150.00 worth of drain snakes to atleast try and fix the problem myself. Now we have 48PSI water pressure and taking a shower is great. We can run the wash, do the dishes and take a shower at the same time! This summer watering the lawn will go a lot quicker.

          • #301833
            Avatar photoSelgas

              Question for Art….

              Do you folks in the States use PVC or PE pipes for in ground water lines from the street/road boundary ( property side of the sreet isolating valve ) or do you only use copper pipes??

            • #301834
              Avatar photokenny b

                “Do you folks in the States use PVC or PE pipes for in ground water lines from the street/road boundary”

                Both PVC and Copper are used for services depending on local or state codes having jurisdiction. PE is seldom used but is accepted in most areas.

                kenny b

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