Water Pressure

First, I'm not a plumber, or anything even close.
I live in a house built in 1978, in a 'regular' subdivision outside of San Jose, CA, and moved in in 1994. The house has copper plumbing. The water pressure has always been less than I'd like, but that's because I'm at the top of a hill, close to the water tank.
Over the last six months or so, the pressure has really gotten really low, at all inside faucets, including dishwasher and clothes washer. The pressure at the sprinklers, though, and at hose bibs, seems to be the same as it always has been. We have no complaints when washing cars or watering the lawn or garden.
I get my water supplied from the main valve at the street. There's a box there where the water company reads my meter. From there, there's a pvc (yes, pvc) pipe that runs under my front lawn and brings the water to a pressure valve on the outside of my house, which then feeds everything inside the house, and all outside hose bibs. Everything from that point is copper.
If I had galvanized pipe in the house, I'd suspect that it was corroded, and time to replace it, but it's all copper. Can copper corrode? I always thought not. Another fact that's got me stupmped is why does the pressure at the outside hoses seem to be as good as when I moved in 14 years ago, yet the inside pressure has really taken a dive in the last six months.
My plan is to have the water company come out and read the pressure at the street meter, if that's possible. It that's bad, it's their fix. If that's good, I then get a plumber out to come out and read the pressure at the valve on the outside of the house. If that's bad, then the problem is either with the valve, or the pvc line running from the street meter to the house valve. If that's good, then I still don't understand why the inside pressure is low at the faucets, but fine at the outside hoses.
Any ideas?
Many thanks in advance.
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Save a plumber call just to check pressure. Go to any plumbing supply place, even a big box, and get a pressure gauge You can get them to screw onto hose bibs or with a "rubber' nose that youjust press against the faucet, bib, etc. Not all that expensive and a lot less than a plumber call.
As for outside fine, inside suck. Possible if you have a water filter/ conditioner that does not feed the outside lines. If you do have one, check to be sure it/they aren't plugged - that is a common source of poor pressure problems.
Hary K
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wrote:

I got a screw on pressure guage, and checked the pressure at all six hose bibs, which are scattered around the perimeter of the house. It's pretty consistent, and reads 51 psi.
Inside the house, in the laundry room, there's a faucet in the laundry tub that has a hose fitting on it. I used the pressure gauge there and measured the same 51 psi. This faucet happens to be the closest to house supply.
I'd like to be able to measure (for curiosity's sake) the pressure at the kitchen sink and bathroom sinks, and tubs, but that's not possible.
I supply valve at the house is a Wilkins, I think that's what it shows, and it shows that maximum inlet pressure is 300 psi, and the range (outlet to house, I guess) shows 25 to 75 psi.
I think I'll ask a few neighbors how their water pressure had been, and maybe check theirs with my pressure guage.
We have no water conditioner/filter.
Bruce
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That says the pressure is OK into the house. The problem isn't pressure, it's an obstruction in the pipes somewhere between the regulator (or the regulator itself) and the faucets. Since it sounds like all faucets have low water flow, the obstruction is first going to be found in something common to all those faucets. In essence, it's "flow", not pressure that's the problem because you've shown that pressure can get up to 50 psi; so that leaves something preventing the water from flowing fast enough.
HTH
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The problem may not be pressure, as you say. I just checked my neighbor's pressure, at his hose bib, directly across the street. He said he had all water off, and his pressure measured the same as mine, 51 psi. He says he hasn't experienced lack of flow or pressure.
By the way, my father-in-law came over with another pressure guage to check my pressure, and his guage also read the same as mine, 51 psi. He told me that the pressure at his house is 75 psi. Of course, he is way down the hill from me, about 1 1/2 miles away, plus, he gets his water from another tank, I believe, which is much higher than his home. My tank is not much higher than my home. None of this information helps (Idon't believe), except to show that my pressure guage is working correctly.
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51 psi is a reasonable working pressure. 75 is actually a little high, but workable; you can feel good that you probably have fewer faucet drips than he does<G>. As I previously mentioned, it appears you have something obstructing water flow at some point. Oxidation, sediment, plugged filters, partially closed water valve, etc. etc. etc.. Determine which faucets have the flow problems (what you're calling low pressure), and see what might be in common to all of them; that's the area where the obstruction will be. Also be sure the slow faucets don't have an aerator or something that could be the problem. Whenever you turn water off and then back on again, it creates a bunch of "dirt" that has to be flushed from the pipes or it'll collect someplace; usually in aerators on faucets.
HTH
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Thanks, ALOE. You are right, it is most likely a flow problem, and not a pressure problem. I'll have to do a methodical check of all possibilities. I've already cleaned out one faucet aerator in a bathroom, and that increased the flow quite a bit, to the point where it is satisfactory. Usually that's the first thing I do (clean aerators) when flow decreases. I had recently cleaned this particular aerator, so I didn't suspect it was semi-clogged.
Wonder if an anti-siphon valve in my sprinkler valves has failed and let in some dirt. Just brainstorming now.
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Probably the first faucet turned on after whatever dislodged the sediments. When you find a plugged aerator, take it off and let the water run for about 3 minutes to flush out anythiung remaining that the higher flow rate carries into the water.
Good catch.
Welcome
Twayne (was Aloe by mistake)
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I thought of that after I posted. I should have said to check the pressure both static and dynamic. You check the dynamic pressure by opening a faucet somewhere and checking the pressure at a different one. If it varies more than a pound or two from static, it is an obstruction somewhere.
Since it seems to affect all inside lines, look for the obstruction near where the line enters the house, suspect the shut-off valve first.
Harry K
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ALOE.org wrote:

Does your water softener have a bypass valve setup? If so, take it out of the loop, and see if that changes anything. And make sure all the various valves in the basement are in the 'full open' position. I know, it sounds dumb, but you'll feel less dumb than if the expensive plumber finds it. I once did a callback on a new house in Indianapolis in January- no water pressure. Even pulled the line off the well in crawlspace to make sure well worked. It wasn't till the other guy and me had given up and were packing up, that it occurred to me to lay a hand on the softener plumbing in the insufficiently heated corner of the garage, and think to myself that it felt awful cold...
-- aem sends....
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Static pressure readings aren't going to tell you a whole lot. You are also interested in volume...
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Bruce wrote:

We had a problem a couple of years ago when a tree's roots managed to tap the pvc feed between the street and our house. The clue (besides decreased water pressure) was a squishy area in the yard.
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Yep, that has crossed my mind. If that's the case, it's not obvious though, because there's no squishyness. The pvc run is about 40' long and 2' deep.
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Bruce wrote:

Hmmm, Here where water is aplenty, washing car on your driveway is illegal. (wasteful and pollution concerns for storm sewer system) Every house is built with water pressure gauge. Without a gauge and meter its difficult to assess what's going on. my house has too much of pressure . I installed a regulator to keep it at 60 psi.In our city while pop. almost doubling in the past 20 years, total water consumption wnet down almost 25% from citizens conservation effort.
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wrote:

I'm not a plumber, but there are a couple things you can do before calling a plumber.
Ensure all fixtures are off and no water is in use in the house. Open the meter box and look for the meter running.. mine has a red needle that spins when water is in use. If no water is being used and the meter is turning there most likely is a leak from the street to the house. ( bad toilet valves act this way also).
Buy yourself a gauge at a local hardware store and test the pressure. They fit on a hose bib, so turn it on and read the pressure. Do this several times during one day. Water demands vary from day to early evening and pressure can vary. What is the pressure: low, high and average?
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That is a good idea, and I will do that.

I have already checked the pressure with a screw on pressure guage. It reads 51 psi at all six hose bibs, and I was able to check the pressure at the faucet inside the house at the laundry tub faucet. This faucet is, however, the first one that gets feed from the outside regulator. (See my reply to Harry K.)
Perhaps there is an obstruction somewhere inside affecting the other inside faucets.
Thanks for the reply.
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clean out the screens.
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As mentioned your pressure seems fine, so I would suspect a flow problem also as mentioned A few questions do all the hose bibs seem to work fine/ good flow? is there a PRV ( pressure reducing valve ) valve on the main to the house? usually located at the shut off valve for the house below you hose bib ( not by the meter) is there a build up of sediment at the facet strainers ? is so clean then recheck in a couple.might indicate dirt from a leak underground or maybe water Co did work on the line and debris entered system, but the neighbor would have same problem. Another possibility might be the shut off valve for the house ( not at the meter) these are usually cheap gate Valves I have seen more than one break it may not be opening all the way you will still get good pressure but will not get proper flow. If this is the case remove the old valve fine adjust with a large hammer and replace with a ball valve.
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from buffalo ny: with your left hand safely in your pocket and while your right hand is phoning the plumber... maybe flush out or replace the pressure regulator after you have back flushed the system from various indoor points without improvement. but jump around it first by using your double female hose adapter to connect the good outside hose cock to an inside cold fixture. if improved, the problem is somewhere between the two hose connections to compare, the the water pressure is like electrical voltage. the water flow gallons per minute is like electrical amperage. you can fill a 5 gallon bucket in how many seconds, convert to gallons per minute if desired and note your clipboard. that a showerhead is rated at say 2.5 gallons per minute requires 60 or 80 or whatever pounds per square inch to be delivered. in my homes at 42psi we must increase the gpm to deliver desired flow by oversizing to 3/4" replacement pipes and full flow valves [such as a 3/4" ball valve with a 3/4" hole thru it]. when new water service is required, we upgrade to 1" incoming service and meters now to overcome the 42psi. first compare neighbor's number of seconds to fill a clean white plastic 5-gallon bucket [for visibility of debris] to yours to see if he has the same problem. if his flow is faster then: remove all aerators so agitated debris can rinse out later. tag your fixtures good or bad to pinpoint the problem's location. turn off your main. open your first good pressure hose cock. using the friendly neighbor's with permission cold hose cock as a supply, connect [white clean drinking water recreational vehicle] hose, backflush the cold thru an adapter if needed into a working but slow cold fixture [maybe a laundry tub cold faucet] to carry the broken valve washer piece or dirt to your 5 gallon white bucket under the first good pressure hose cock. hopefully, water will flow from the neighbor's cold thru the white hose thru a slow cold faucet carrying mystery blockage to your bucket. hopefully. when finished, run fresh city water thru all fixtures awhile to rinse thru debris. restore cleaned or replacement aerators a day or more later after running water thru from street main.
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