As a home inspector in Colorado Springs, I often find myself inspecting situations that have previously confused a home owner or contractor. In those cases, the home owner reaches out to me for an inspection to help find the cause. In this particular case, the call went something like this, "Jeff - we have an issue. The volume of water flowing from our tap is really low. We had a plumber check it out and he recommended we increase the pressure from the city line. That didn't work, and now we're experiencing even more plumbing issues with leaks in several new areas. Can you come have a look?"
I'll admit, my curiosity was piqued. Though, having several years of foundation and excavation experience under my belt, I had an idea of what the cause might be. On to the home to find out.
I arrived at the property with a water pressure gauge to get an initial reading. The pressure was surprisingly high - around 100psi. On average, a residential water pressure reading will be between 40 and 70psi which is the level most in-home plumbing is designed for. And sure enough, even though the pressure was high, the volume of water flowing out was low.
Speaking with the homeowner, I confirmed the initial conversation that since the initial plumber recommended a water pressure increase, several new leaks in previously working sections of plumbing had emerged. I investigated the leaks and found them in sections of pipe that looked otherwise fine - not old, cracked, or corroded.
At this point, I had a good idea of where to look. I ventured down into the crawlspace to the junction of the main city line and the main home water intake pipe and found what I was looking for. There was a noticeable "kink" in the line that was likely caused when the initial hookup occurred. This kink was responsible for the low-flow, since it was effectively like trying to feed an entire home through a straw. But since the pressure from the city line was cranked up so high, the small amounts of water that were making it through were coming out at a high pressure - enough to overwhelm several previously fine connections and pipes that were simply not designed to handle it.
As I provided my report, the homeowner naturally asked, "Why wasn't this found earlier? How come the plumber didn't find this?" I can only speculate that the plumber was in a hurry and/or didn't want to crawl down into the crawlspace to find out. I hate to say it, but this is a perfect example of why a home inspector - a quality home inspector - is so valuable. Good contractors will take their time, perform their due diligence, and won't leave until they've verified your problem is fixed. But, as with any profession, not all contractors are that good. An inspector's primary mission is to identify exactly these circumstances and help pinpoint the cause. And a good inspector will take the time to get dirty, go into the crawlspace, and complete their mission.
I take great pride in my work and was happy to have helped this particular home owner figure out the issue and, most likely, prevent them from having to deal with a high pressure pipe failure that could very easily have led to a major flooding issue - goodness forbid that being on a weekend camping trip in Woodland Park!
If you have any questions about plumbing or need a home inspection, feel free to give me a call at (719) 302-5568 - always happy to help!