Why is water pressure different in different areas of the community?
Due to the elevation differences in the City, the City cannot provide every property with the same pressure. Water pressures in the City’s water mains are controlled by a series of pump stations and large pressure reducing valves. Pressures generally range between 45 and 125 psi as per industry standards. Water pressures can also vary based on time of day and community water use.
My water pressure is too high. What can I do?
If you feel your water pressure is too high, you can install a pressure reducing valve (PRV) to lower the pressure in your home or business. PRV’s are required for buildings where pressure is expected to be greater than 80 psi.
What is a pressure reducing valve (PRV)?
Pressure reducing valves are installed in a plumbing system to regulate water pressure.
Do I have a PRV? Where would it be? What does it look like?
Most homes in the City should be equipped with a pressure reducing valve (PRV) as per the BC Plumbing Code and the City’s Water Regulations Bylaw 3216, 2006. To locate or to determine if you have a PRV, first locate where you water service line comes into your home or business. Following the water line in your home, there should be a water shutoff valve and the water piping could branch out with one going to the outdoor tap and the other leading into the internal plumbing; a PRV would be located right before it splits up. It may be in a crawl space or near your hot water tank.
Household PRV’s generally look like this:
and are about 3 inches tall
I don’t have a PRV. How do I find out if I need one?
If you are experiencing significant pressure fluctuations or water flow from fixtures appear higher than normal, you may need a PRV. If you are unsure whether you need one, contact 250-203-2316.
Where do I get a PRV?
Plumbing and building supply stores will carry them.
Can I replace/install a PRV myself?
Yes, valves may be installed by property owners themselves (single family homes only) or with the assistance of a plumbing professional. If you are installing a new PRV, please call the City’s Building Department at 250-286-5725 to check if you need a plumbing permit.
How do I know if my existing PRV has failed?
The most common signs that a PRV is beginning to fail are:
- Water pressure surges
- Noted increase/decrease in pressure at fixtures
- Flow rate of fixtures is higher than flow rating for fixture.
- Frequent leaks or dripping faucets (high water pressure can wear out valves and cause leaks)
- Sudden loss of water pressure (an adjustment to the PRV may resolve the issue)
- Unexplained loss of water flow (an adjustment to the PRV may resolve the issue)
Can my PRV be adjusted or repaired?
Yes, slight variations in water pressure can typically be addressed with minor adjustments to the PRV. Be sure to check manufacturer’s instructions before making adjustments. Many user manuals can be found on-line if you are unable to find yours. You can also contact a plumber to have your PRV adjusted or repaired. However, if your PRV is older (typically more than 5 years), it may be difficult or impossible to make adjustments. You should then consider replacing your PRV.
My water pressure is too low. What can I do?
If your water pressure has decreased over time, you should troubleshoot your plumbing (see below or contact a plumber) to see if there is a problem with your plumbing that is causing the low pressure. BC Plumbing Code requires a minimum water pressure at point of entry to a building of 29 psi. Some people may find this pressure too low and may choose to install a booster pump. If you wish to do this, please contact a plumbing professional.
Troubleshooting water pressure problems
Check your taps
If you have lower pressure than expected, your faucet could be plugged with debris:
- Unscrew aerator from faucet and remove screen
- Soak screen in vinegar for 10-15 minutes
- If screen sizzles, then carbonate is present, which is a result of naturally occurring minerals in the water and it is harmless
Check your home or business shut-off valve
Check that the shut-off valve to ensure it is fully opened. Your shut-off valve is usually located either close to the hot water tank or where the main water line enters your home or business.
Check tap valves
Ensure the shut-off valves under your sinks are in full open position.
Check the pressure reducing valve (PRV)
The PRV keeps the house plumbing from becoming over pressured. An increase in
water pressure may be caused by a PRV that is over 5 years old and requires service or replacement. PRVs can usually be adjusted if a loss of water pressure is the issue.
Check irrigation or sprinkler system
If you have an irrigation system (even if turned off for the winter), check for leakage as this could be the cause of your pressure issue.
Check for water maintenance work
Your water pressure may be temporarily affected by water system maintenance work in your area. Look for a City notice or water crews working near your home. Some examples of work that could affect water pressure are water main breaks or a hydrant in use.