Water Pressure and Standard Variations What a Buyer Should Know

by : Eric Badgely

Homebuyers are often concerned about the water pressure at a home they plan to purchase. On the other hand, to complicate matters, it seems that no two homebuyers agree on what is satisfactory water pressure. Realizing that, home inspectors try to provide their clients with a water pressure reading that they can analyze and evaluate on their own.

Homebuyers often ask the home inspector about the water pressure at a prospective property. Is it good? Is it bad? Unfortunately, water pressure is pretty much subjective. What one person thinks is great pressure could be a mere trickle to another person. Those people who are used to obtaining their water from private wells are often less critical of water pressure than those individuals who are accustomed to getting water from sophisticated municipal water systems.

Since water pressure is largely subjective, the best thing to do is to measure it so homebuyers can decipher and evaluate the numbers themselves. There is a device known as a water pressure gauge. This portable meter screws onto an outside hosebibb, or inside at the laundry area, and gives a homeowner, a plumber or a home inspector an accurate reading of the water pressure at a given property. Normal water pressure is in the range of 40 to 80 pounds per square inch (PSI). This gauge will give an average reading and, during the day, it will change a bit depending on the number of fixtures that are being operated and other variations that affect overall water pressure.

Water pressure around 40 PSI or below, while not uncommon to find, usually means there is not much pressure to spare if more than one fixture or appliance is running at a time; for example, trying to shower while the dishwasher is running could be an ordeal. Water pressure above 80 PSI is not good for household appliances -- washing machines, dishwashers, and hot water heaters. Consistently high water pressure can damage or significantly shorten the design life of appliances. If you are buying a home, your home inspector should try to check the water pressure for you. If, on the other hand, you are merely a curious consumer who wants to investigate this matter by yourself, an accurate but inexpensive water pressure gauge can be purchased at almost any hardware store.