Low water pressure or low water flow?

I am trying to wrap up a few issues with the house.
We have a relatively nice house (ie not terribly cheaply built, 25 yrs old), but we have a strange problem that has become bad lately. It is either low water pressure or low water flow. Some facts
- If I am taking a shower and someone turns on some water faucet, even not too much, the flow drops dramatically
- It applies to both hot and cold water
- Flow of water in the basement bathroom sink used to be pretty good, not it is not
- We have a defunct "water softener" system that is still in line but not operating for several years.
- it just feels that there "is not as much" water than before
- I checked the main valves near the water meter, they are quite wide open (I was hoping that perhaps the problem is that they are just "cracked open", but not such luck).
I have some nice stuff such as a "Magnehelic water pressure gauge" that goes up to 30 psi. Would it be suitable to use? I could mount it permanently somewhere in the furnace room.
I am thinking, if I record pressure, low pressure when all faucets are closed means a city water problem. If not, low pressure when one faucet is open means a house problem. Is that right?
What is the rational approach to solving this problem?
i
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first remove completely the defunct softener.
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Ignoramus22745 wrote:

sounds like you have a rational approach.
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OK... so my initial plan is:
1) Per hallerb's suggestion, remove the water softener
2) Install the magnehelic water pressure gauge (I will post pictures of it prior to installing, to make sure that it is suitable).
3) Based on a changed situation (removed water softener) and with the pressure gauge, see what is going on
3) go from there
Does it make sense?
What is the max water pressure that could exist in residences? I need this question answered to decide if I can install the pressure gauge that I have.
thanks
i
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Ignoramus22745 wrote:

If the gauge only does 30PSI it won't cut it even if you had a well. City water could easily be 80PSI though there should be a regulator to drop it to 60PSI. You can get a suitable gauge for like $10 at Depot or Lowe's.
Pete C.
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Thanks, I will check HD.
i
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Ignoramus22745 wrote:

Hi, If softener hasn't been used, maybe it caused scale build up in your plumbing? Being not used, I'd bypass it anyhow. And in my city every new house comes with pressure gauge, regulator and remotely read meter(via satellite radio). The pressure is set at 60 psi.
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Could be, I guess. We never used it, previous owners installed prior to our neighborhood's switch to better water. They ceased using it way before we bought the house from them.

Very nice. I doubt that my water pressure is anywhere close to 60 psi. What are these regulators like? I would love to have one.
Also, just for my curiosity, are pressure booster pumps worth anything?
i
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Ignoramus22745 wrote:

A regulator won't fix low pressure, only high pressure. If you have city water and the pressure is low it's the city's responsibility to fix it. You certainly should not need to spend money on a booster pump of any kind.
Pete C.
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Ignoramus22745 wrote:

<SNIP>
Ask neighbors if they have same problem. As suggested, get the softener out of the circuit. If there is a "Bypass" arrangement, make sure it is Open.
Your 30psi gauge may go off scale, but a gauge set up the way you describe is a good test.
Any chance the supply piping in the house is galv iron?
Is there a pressure reducing valve on the water service?
Jim
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Will check, i think that it is set on bypass.

OK... I can always buy an appropriate gauge, like I have on my TIG water cooler. It is only about $10.

I think that it is regular black iron pipe.

Good question, where would I find one? There are two regular looking valves on both sides of the water meter. Pipe enters house near the meter from the bottom of the basement floor.
i
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Ignoramus22745 wrote:

PRV might look like this: http://www.cashacme.com/pressregeb5.html
Black iron wouldn't be used for water, but it could be galvanized. Hold a magnet to the supply piping. If it *is* iron, could be the problem.
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Thanks. I will check tonight if I see anything of the sort.

Will try that and will report my results. Thanks.
i
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wrote:

Galv steel piping is the cause of many problems due to it rusting inside. If you have an interface between Galv. steel pipe and copper, if it was not made using a dielectric union, that point will surely be badly corroded.
It is possible that a city copper pipe interfacing to a household galv steel was repaired incorrectly using a regular union or threaded nipple. I wouuld expect a restriction there as well. Jumping a ground wire across the dielectric union will also cause corrosion and may have been done with good intentions of grounding the pipe (older homes used this earth ground more commonly, today we need to use a ground spike)
Try locating the city shutoff valve (usually near the property line at the street) and turn it off and on a couple of times in case that valve was not completely opened in the first place. You may need to buy or borrow a tool for this or the city will do it as a matter of troubleshooting the problem.
If you have a pressure regulator (near where water first enters the house) it may be misadjusted or have become defective.
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Not quite.
In short, you're trying to distinguish between having a pressure problem and a flow rate problem.
If you have low pressure when all faucets are closed, it's a low pressure problem and the city's issue - _unless_ it's a defective pressure regulator (if you have one).
Once you've eliminated low pressure as the issue, trying to interpret pressure levels and thereby implicitly figure out flow rate problems doesn't necessarily tell you where the problem is. It could be anywhere up to and including the supply line into your house from the street.
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
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PipeDown is probably on the money. I had the same problem with my house and replaced the water line with PVC. No more problems. Wait about 5 minutes with no water running. This way your pressure will be equalized throughout the system. Then open up the kitchen faucet. If you immediately have high pressure, and then you can watch the pressure drop, you will know that there is blockage somewhere....ie in galvanized pipes(Just like a kink in a garden hose). If when you open the kitchen faucet you do not notice any decrease in pressure, I would think it would be a bad regulator or some other problem besides clogged pipes.
Pat
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I aggree here with Pipedown and Komodu.... Had flow & pressure problems in my old house. Just like they he says....it comes on real fast and then slows way down. I had to do a number of things before we could take 2 showers at once. First, we found a lot of sand loaded up into the fixtures and low flow adaptors. Next we found a section of pipe that had been added on by a hack and was "somewhat" restricting the flow. Then we replaced the old galvo line from the meter to the house with schedule 80 PVC. That fixed things pretty good. However, we did have half inch lines as opposed to three quarter and the tub would fill a little slower if the shower was on....pretty bearable though.....Good luck, Ross
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