Plumbing pressure woes plague Indy-area homeowners
Stevens says he has heard reports of pressure as high as 130 pounds per square inch in his Waterford Gardens neighborhood in Fishers, which is serviced by Veolia Water. Normal pressure is 50 to 80, according to Veolia .
The neighborhood is not alone in its high pressure problems, says Jay Bedell, owner of eight-time Super Service Award winner Bedell Plumbing Inc., which services the entire metro area. He calls it an "epidemic" and sees it throughout his service area. "We have water pressure that should stay at about 75 pounds and it's running up to 120 at night when no one is using water in the area," he says, adding that water flows through the pipes at the same rate but fewer people siphon it off at night. The effect is much the same as high blood pressure in the body, he says. It adds stress to and shortens the lifespan of appliances and fixtures.
Stevens suspects high pressure killed his water heater. "I know I had to replace (it) after four years," he says.
Mike Bush, owner of highly rated Mike Bush Plumbing in Fishers, says he sees high pressure-related problems every week. "A house isn't really built to handle that constant high water pressure," he says. "Your water heater prematurely wears out. Water softeners wear out. Toilet tank parts prematurely wear out. Dishwashers. Icemakers. Really, anything where water goes through your home."
John Duffy, Carmel's director of utilities, says water pressure varies throughout the system. He is aware of fluctuations only in southwest Clay Township, which he says still gets water from Veolia Water but will be switched to the Carmel system next year.
Homeowners with high pressure problems should call the city, he says. "We would certainly work with them to minimize that," he says. "There are some people out there who, in all honesty, like their 100 pounds of pressure."
Veolia Water, which supplies much of the metro area, is required to maintain a minimum pressure of 30 psi, according to a statement issued by spokesman Paul Whitmore. Pressures vary throughout the system, Whitmore says, due to factors such as proximity to treatment plants and water towers.
A pressure-reducing valve, often combined with a thermal expansion tank, can help eliminate high pressure problems, Bush says. A typical valve job costs $250 to $300, plus $100 for the tank, he adds. The Indiana Plumbing Code requires such a valve in new construction if pressure exceeds 80 psi.
Bush strongly recommends installing both the valve and tank. "If you can spend a hundred bucks that is going to make your $1,000 water tank last longer, it's a pretty good investment," he says.
Boyd Obermeyer of Carmel hired highly rated R.V. Hallam Plumbing Co. in Westfield to install both items when the company diagnosed high pressure as the cause of his water heater tank failure. "There is some cost upfront, but I feel the benefits down the road are worth the extra investment right now, he says.