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  1. #1
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    Default Dismantle Plumbing Fitting?

    I recently inspected a house which had very low water pressure in a hall bathroom. I use a standard gauge for testing water pressure. I did not check the exact water pressure in the bathroom. In order to do that, I would have to remove a plumbing fitting, such as a shower head, and attach my gauge with an adapter. I decided not to do this and recommended a pressure test be conducted by a licensed plumber. The water flow was slightly more than a dribble. My general rule is not to dismantle anything. Of course there are exceptions to most rules.

    Would you have removed the shower head fitting, and why?

    Thanks for the help.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Dismantle Plumbing Fitting?

    I have removed faucet aerators thinking they were clogged but that's as far as I would go. Low flow usually has nothing to do with water pressure. You could take a pressure reading at that shower head and get a normal reading. Low flow is usually due to restrictions that you normally can't find in a home inspection.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Dismantle Plumbing Fitting?

    Don, you would only be testing static water pressure with a standard hose bib gauge but what you are talking about is low water FLOW. The pressure is really irrelevant at this stage. If you have low water flow, report it and move on. The static water pressure will be the same at any part of the system, open a valve and the numbers will change drastically even on healthy systems. Trying to affix a number with water flowing would be pretty meaningless.

    I have been known to clean aerators but stopped after having trouble getting them back on and having to retrieve a few parts down the disposal. Now I report it and move on.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Dismantle Plumbing Fitting?

    I do understand the difference between flow and pressure. The buyers did have a plumber do the checks, the pressure was 11 PSI. My question was more about how far should we go to provide information to our customers.


    Thanks Again


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Dismantle Plumbing Fitting?

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Schlecht View Post
    I do understand the difference between flow and pressure. The buyers did have a plumber do the checks, the pressure was 11 PSI. My question was more about how far should we go to provide information to our customers.


    Thanks Again
    Outside of SOP is always personal comfort level and is what makes our services different.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Dismantle Plumbing Fitting?

    Testing flow/pressure during an HI complete nonsense waste of time. Fluff to impress your client. If you are doing a court case then its a different matter.
    You turn the water on and it trickles out, there's a problem. There are two relevant questions you need to assess during the HI
    - is the water flow from that fixture consistent with flow from other fixtures in the house?
    - is water flow in the house consistent with water flow in the area?
    Water flow is dependent on a lot of factors throughout the day. You want to test it and put 11PSI in the report, big whoopy doo, like a client has any idea what that means. The Seller can have a plumber come out and test it at 11AM after everyone in the neighborhood has taken a shower and is at work. Now it's 15PSI, so much for the defect in the report.
    If the water is weak, it's weak. Maybe there's a clog, maybe it's old galv pipe who knows.
    I did a Condo back in the spring, 2 bath unit. Water blasted out of one shower, trickled out of the other shower. Took pictures of both. Seller told buyers attorney I must not know how to operate a shower head. 'there's no problem'. Buyer then forwarded the pics, end of discussion, time for credit.
    Not picking on you. This testing water pressure during an HI discussion pops up from time to time. It's annoying nonsense. As mentioned during a case or a reinspection its a different matter.

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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Dismantle Plumbing Fitting?

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Keller View Post
    Testing flow/pressure during an HI complete nonsense waste of time. Fluff to impress your client.
    Markus, in the event of excessive pressure, testing could come in handy.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Dismantle Plumbing Fitting?

    "Would you have removed the shower head fitting, and why?"
    No, I would not have removed the shower head.
    Doing so would give me little, if any useful information.
    I do compare water flow/ output at several points.
    I also check for a drop in output at the shower when I flush the toilet.


    "Testing flow/pressure during an HI complete nonsense waste of time."

    IMO that statement is not always correct.
    A home may be on a privet well.
    A failing pump, worn pump impeller or faulty pressure switch can cause the pressure to be low.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Dismantle Plumbing Fitting?

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Keller View Post
    Testing flow/pressure during an HI complete nonsense waste of time.
    I mostly agree, but ...
    Quote Originally Posted by neal lewis View Post
    Markus, in the event of excessive pressure, testing could come in handy.
    Testing for pressure and finding greater than 80 psi is a red flag that they have to high of a pressure, and finding less than 40 psi is likely too little pressure, and being as the water system is non-compressible (water is not compressed like air is), the pressure will be the same throughout the system in a static testing mode.

    Markus is right in checking dynamic (with the water flowing) pressure as there will be pressure losses due to the piping system and restrictions within the piping system.

    As Markus said - it either flow 'okay' or 'not okay', and 'not okay' could have several causes, with pressure only being one, and pressure not being a problem if other fixtures flow 'okay'.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Dismantle Plumbing Fitting?

    I disagree its a waste of time to check pressure and flow.
    In my area pressures well over 160 psi are common. We all know that excessive pressure can cause other problems, some of them quite costly.

    As far as flow goes, I think its important for us to check it. Its a real eye opener for the client when I have water running in the kitchen, or downstairs bathroom, then turn on an upstairs shower and see the water just trickle out.

    While some clients may not know what 11 psi means, my clients will know because I would explain it to them.

    Checking pressure and flow is not nonsense.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Dismantle Plumbing Fitting?

    Excess pressure? I have to say I don't recall ever seeing that. Having spent many younger years in crappy apartments, I wished there were more pressure in the shower though. Would have been nice.
    That's a good point Rick. Something I don't really deal with around here. Water comes from the City in the city and many burbs get their water from the City. I don't generally make it to burbs that don't have City water.

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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Dismantle Plumbing Fitting?

    I generally don't check the pressure unless it's new construction or I see a pressure regulator on the system. I do, however, check the flow by running multiple fixtures at the same time. IE, turn on the sink and shower then flush the toilet.

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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Dismantle Plumbing Fitting?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    I disagree its a waste of time to check pressure and flow.
    In my area pressures well over 160 psi are common. We all know that excessive pressure can cause other problems, some of them quite costly.

    As far as flow goes, I think its important for us to check it. Its a real eye opener for the client when I have water running in the kitchen, or downstairs bathroom, then turn on an upstairs shower and see the water just trickle out.

    While some clients may not know what 11 psi means, my clients will know because I would explain it to them.

    Checking pressure and flow is not nonsense.
    I agree if I had a static pressure check of 160 & only turned on 1 faucet in the home wouldnt this mean excessive pressure at that one fixture?
    Water fixtures are only rated at 80 PSI with the exception of tub faucets.

    As an HI if I do the static pressure test & its 160 psi & I report on it
    I feel I will be eliminating a future call.

    If I dont report on it & the dishwaher pump goes bad then leaky faucets & a plumber is called on site & finds 160 psi - Im sure i will be getting a future phone call.

    I sometimes wonder about reporting on the flow of water at each location with severarl water fixtures operating at the same time - Like making an addition inside the report for normal / marginal / poor.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Dismantle Plumbing Fitting?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Hutton View Post
    I agree if I had a static pressure check of 160 & only turned on 1 faucet in the home wouldnt this mean excessive pressure at that one fixture?
    Water fixtures are only rated at 80 PSI with the exception of tub faucets.

    As an HI if I do the static pressure test & its 160 psi & I report on it
    I feel I will be eliminating a future call.
    If you measure the pressure and it is over 80 psi ... a pressure regulator *is required* to be installed.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  15. #15
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    Default Re: Dismantle Plumbing Fitting?

    "I agree if I had a static pressure check of 160 & only turned on 1 faucet in the home wouldnt this mean excessive pressure at that one fixture?"
    If you have a static pressure of 160 at one fixture, you will have it at every fixture.

    Here in Knoxville, both the City of Knoxville, and the County area is served by the same utility company (there are actually several utility companies in Knox County), so the water is coming from a public water source.

    I guess its because of the hills and valleys here they have to have enough pressure to get it up the hills, etc. I use a liquid filled pressure gauge (filled with glycerin to dampen the shock). I have had the needle in my gauge go past 180 and break. I probably replace my gauge every 18 months or so.

    In the 15 years I have lived in my house, I have replaced the pressure regulator 4 times. We have very high pressure here, and I would say that almost all of the inspectors here check pressure.

    Toilet valves will let go from too much pressure, but it doesn't impact the house all that much. However, an ice maker line, or washing machine hose that bursts because of too high pressure can cause serious problems. I would be doing my clients a disservice if I didn't check the pressure.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Dismantle Plumbing Fitting?

    Many tracts in N. San Diego County, in the late 80's and early 90's were built using Polybutylene supply lines, resulting in numerous ensuing law suits etc. etc. It's not always obvious during a HI whether PB was used or not. Not always completely visible in the attic and usually stubbed out with copper. Sometimes it's a combination of both - copper visible and Pex and/or PB running through studs and inside wall cavities. As I understand it the 'PB' issue, and to some extent 'Pex pipe' was primarily regarding fittings and installation - as opposed to the pipe itself (though there are also instances of both piping being defective) and pressure may be an extenuating factor in their failure. I always test water pressure, recording the reading(s) and for functional water flow. If the pressure is too high, then, if nothing else it may alert the homeowner to address the issue, especially if there is a possibility that suspect fittings are installed. You can't determine pressure by observing the flow out of a faucet.

    In my experience the plumbing system is a major factor to prospective buyers during home purchase and any information you can give is knowledge. Knowledge is power for them, not just fluff for me for marketing purposes.

    Last edited by Ian Page; 11-01-2010 at 05:40 PM. Reason: identification error

  17. #17

    Default Re: Dismantle Plumbing Fitting?

    I think we are over thinking the issue.
    Is there functional flow? If not report it as needed a repair, the pl;umber can evaluate the what, why and how. If you also check the pressure you can include the resulting fact but only as a fact.
    Example "2nd story shower did not have functional flow, pressure gauge test results showed 11 PSI. Needs repair by a licensed plumber!

    Jeff Zehnder - Home Inspector, Raleigh, NC
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  18. #18
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    Default Re: Dismantle Plumbing Fitting?

    I always check water pressure because there are many areas where I inspect that the static pressure will be above 80 psi and the home has a PRV. I recommend the client adjust the pressure and give some information on the PRV so they have an idea what it is I am talking about. I check functional flow throughout the home also. We have some areas where the pressure will be almost 200 psi and even the Fire department marks those hydrants so they do blow their equipment up.

    So it does have it place. But it is just one factor among many.

    Don Hester
    NCW Home Inspections, LLC
    Wa. St. Licensed H I #647, WSDA #80050, http://www.ncwhomeinspections.com

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Dismantle Plumbing Fitting?

    As to the original question regarding low flow at bathroom fixtures, Yes I do often remove aerators at bathroom and kitchen sinks, and occasionally showerheads. Many of my inspections are rural that have a well as the water supply, and grit or mineral buildup very often clogs aerators. Even homes on city water have the same problem. I think it is worth my time to report whether it is a real possible plumbing issue, or a simple clogged aerator. Showerheads, especially all the new water saver models, clog very easily. If you test the bathtub spigot and it is ok, but the showerhead has low flow, then you pretty much know it is simply clogged. Why should a buyer or seller have to spend $80-$120 for a 2-minute operation from a plumber. I know that everyone is lawsuit happy these days and live with the threat of an overpriced blood sucking lawyer hanging over your shoulder, but come on now, common sense must prevail somewhere.

    Also, older homes with galvanized metal supply pipes sometimes deposit a lot of rust and metal flakes at the aerator. Taking the aerator off lets me see if there is a lot of rusting particles in the water supply, which can indicate aging pipes. That can be a valuable tip to the buyer as well.


  20. #20
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    Default Re: Dismantle Plumbing Fitting?

    John, thank you, duly edited - and ammended slightly. A case of 'posting in the wee hours'. I realized my gaff after hitting the sack.


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Dismantle Plumbing Fitting?

    Thanks to everyone for their input.


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