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How is water pressure determined and why is mine different from my neighbors?

Water pressure at any location in the system is determined by the difference in elevation between the water tank that serves the area and the point at which water is drawn from the line. Given the fact that we live in an area with hilly terrain, it is not uncommon for one home to see a significantly different pressure at the main compared to another just down the road. Water pressure changes .433 psi with every foot of elevation change. Therefore, a residence located in the valley may need a pressure reducing valve to lower the 100 psi incoming pressure to a more reasonable level, while another house located just 140 feet up a hill will only have 40 psi.

I have good pressure at the main, but low flows inside my home. What is the problem?

Restrictions in the line will reduce water flow and hence reduce flowing pressures. One of the most common problems in newer homes is improper pipe sizing. In older homes, scaling presents a significant flow problem for any home with older galvanized pipes. As water passes through over the years, corrosion deposits build up inside and partially block water flow. Some pipes may be so corroded that even a pencil would not fit through the center of the pipe. Running water through a corroded pipe like this is the equivalent to sipping through a coffee stirrer instead of a straw, less fluid flows through.

Should I drain my water heater occasionally?

Heating water causes calcium carbonate to precipitate out and settle to the bottom. Water that gets under this layer of sediment can turn to steam when the burners come on and cause popping and other noises. The build up of sediment will also reduce the efficiency of a water heater, reduce the holding capacity and ultimately burn out an electric element. Regular flushing of a water heater through the drain valve located on the bottom of the unit can help prevent sediment build up.  Please refer to your manufacturer's guide for directions on how to drain your hot water heater, as well as how often this should be performed.

How can I keep my pipes from freezing in cold weather?

The best thing to do is wrap any pipes that are exposed. Another suggestion is to let water run in a sink in a small amount. This will keep water moving and thus prevent freezing during severe cold.

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