On May 18th, Charlotte experienced one of the largest fires in the city’s history. Charlotte Water (CLTWater) responded with
Managers on location to assist with any water supply needs,
Operators pumped more water to the area,
Crews were on hand to assist if there were any water supply challenges.
Crews surveyed the area looking for and responding to water main breaks.
Water main breaks are likely after a massive flow of water is used for fighting fires.
Thank you to all that assisted in the response to ensure there was enough water supply and pressure for the Charlotte Fire Department (CFD) response.
“The partnership with the Charlotte Fire Department started more than 100 years ago and it is a weekly and sometimes daily coordination that enables us to assist in this crucial public safety role,”,” said Angela Charles, Director of Charlotte Water. “The investment in our water infrastructure has been instrumental in maintaining water supply and water pressure to serve our growing community and public safety needs.”
If you are reading this, you probably had a recent visit from a plumber.
Did you know:
Water pressure is primarily due to the elevation of storage tanks relative to the elevation of your home.
Higher water pressures are in geographically low points (near a creek or the bottom of a neighborhood).
County building codes require pressure-reducing valves (PRVs) to be installed on new or remodeled residential plumbing if there is evidence of water pressure exceeding 80 psi.
You can buy a gauge at a home improvement store to check your pressure.
A PRV reduces the water pressure coming into your home to protect your plumbing, much like an electrical surge protector protects your computer or television.
Keep in mind that a PRV will age and need to be replaced. So if you notice a sudden increase in pressure in your plumbing, your PRV may be wearing out and needs to be replaced.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I care if my water pressure is more than 80 psi?
High water pressure could cause:
Appliances and fixtures fail sooner than average
Damage water heater
High repair and water bills
How would I know if I have high water pressure?
If you are experiencing any of the below situations, it is time to talk to a plumber:
· A leaking faucet or appliance may tell you it is wearing down, and water pressure should be checked.
· A toilet flowing water from the tank into the bowl when not in use (could also be a simple toilet repair).
· Water is spitting instead of flowing when the faucet is first turned on.
· The sound of pipes banging inside the house may note pressure fluctuations.
· Irregular changes in pressure in shower or sinks.
· Appliances failing early.
· Mineral deposit build-up (white or greenish) on the outside of a shutoff valve.
Check with your neighbors – It may be possible that your neighbors are experiencing a similar issue. If they are not, this may indicate a problem with your private plumbing.
What should I ask the plumber about high water pressure and pressure-reducing valves?
A licensed plumber can assess your current plumbing and recommend whether a PRV is needed. Remember, getting more than one price quote is always a good idea.
Some contractors / licensed plumbers may choose to use an expansion tank (also known as a bladder) or other options to discharge high water pressure safely out of the plumbing system.
A PRV can be installed three feet behind the water meter box or inside your home before the water heater.
Avoid installing PRVs in sidewalks or driveways.
Please be sure your plumber clearly explains any warranty that may apply to the PRV and the plumber’s work.
PRVs will eventually need to be replaced between 7 and 12 years typically.
Note: If your water pressure noticeably changes, It may be time to replace the PRV.
What if the PRV makes the water pressure too low?
· PRVs are adjustable
· Consider replacing old fixtures or pipes that may be clogged with mineral deposits
Can Charlotte Water (CLTWater) reduce the water pressure in my home?
A licensed plumber can check your pressure and determine if you need a PRV.
Customers are in water pressure zones that serve several zip codes to provide minimal pressure of 20 psi to fire hydrants for public safety. CLTWater rarely changes water pressure zones. In those rare cases, a water pressure zone is changed to help customers experiencing low water pressure.
Does water pressure fluctuate daily?
Water pressure will vary throughout the day. Based on elevation and other factors, your home has a water pressure range that varies a few psi. You are more likely to experience the following:
The low range of water pressure during summer mornings when irrigation use may be high in the neighborhood
The high range of water pressure typically from December through February when outdoor water use is minimal
Will the City of Charlotte pay for my PRV or plumbing costs caused by water pressure?
I have 80+ psi and no PRV. Why didn’t my house have a PRV installed earlier?
When houses are built or remodeled, the water pressure should be checked. If it is over 80 psi at the time of the test, a PRV is required. The test could have been conducted at a time of day when water pressure didn’t exceed 80 psi due to other factors (water usage, etc.).
Would Charlotte Water increase my pressure?
Changing water pressure zones is extremely rare. Most properties have been in the same water pressure zone for several decades.
If CLTWater determines that customers need to move to a different water pressure zone, you would be notified several times in advance.
Is the water or wastewater project nearby going to increase my water pressure?
Wastewater projects won’t have any impact on drinking water pipes or pressure.
Water projects may enhance flow and stabilize pressure by cleaning or replacing old pipes. Adding larger pipes may increase water storage in the area but will not significantly affect water pressure since most water pressure is the elevation difference between the storage tank and your home.
Where does my private plumbing start?
The property owner maintains a water pipe from the end of the meter box (including the tailpiece) to the building(s). The property owner is responsible for pipes and fixtures in the buildings and wastewater pipes until the edge of the street or street right-of-way (varies). Charlotte Water maintains the water meter up to and including the meter yoke assembly, meter box, and water and wastewater pipes under the public street.
The illustration shows that Charlotte Water maintains the water pipes under the public streets and service lines from the water main to the meter box. Charlotte Water also maintains the meter and meter box. The property owner’s private plumbing starts at the tailpiece or pipe that leaves the water meter box and piping under the private plumbing to the building and inside the building.
Does my plumbing need to be replaced?
Just as pipes under the street age and have an end of service, so does plumbing in your home. Consider planning for the eventual replacement of plumbing that exceeds 50 years.
“What is my water pressure?” That is a very simple question that can also be very important to Charlotte Water’s customers. Alan Gaines, Senior Engineer with Charlotte Water, explains more in-depth about the water pressure across our distribution system.
If the water pressure is too low, customers may have trouble performing basic tasks such as washing clothes or dishes. However, water pressure that is too high can make some tasks, such as taking a shower, uncomfortable, or cause damage to pipes and appliances.
Charlotte Water serves all of Mecklenburg County with over 4,500 miles of water mains. Pressures will be dependent on where the customer’s service is in our system. Customers should expect to see a range of pressures that can occur throughout the day. This is because water pressure depends on many factors such as the water supply pumping into the water system, water levels in the system’s elevated storage tanks, and water use by other customers.
The elevation of a customer’s home is also a major factor in their water pressure. Customers in low-lying areas, closer to creeks and streams, can expect higher pressures than neighbors on top of a hill or along a ridgeline. Because of topography in our Charlotte Water’s service area, pressures could be 40 psi or lower in some areas of higher elevation and well above 100 psi in areas with lower elevation.
If a customer is concerned about their water pressure, they should consult with a licensed plumber or they can measure their water pressure themselves (many home hardware stores sell gauges that attach to a hose spigot).
Based on the plumbing code, if a customer or plumber finds a reading above 80 psi, then the customer should consider having a pressure-reducing valve (PRV) installed to protect their plumbing. A PRV is a small bell-shaped device that is typically installed right after the water meter or at the home’s shut-off valve to bring pressures to an optimal level for domestic use. This is important to help protect the customer’s appliances and maintain the life expectancy of the customer’s private plumbing. PRVs should be checked periodically and may need to be replaced on a frequency similar to a water heater tank (10 to 15 years on average).
Addressing a customer’s low water pressure concerns is a more complex process because there are multiple potential causes. Because of this, customers will likely need to contact Charlotte Water customer service and a licensed plumber to help evaluate the issue and develop an appropriate solution.
If the low-pressure cause is due to the customer’s ground elevation, then Charlotte Water will be unable to help in most circumstances. Pressure is created by adding energy to the distribution system, typically with a pump. Utilities can only add so much energy into the system without creating problems for other customers or making significant changes in major water infrastructure.
If the low pressure occurs during the customer’s water use, then there is likely a restriction between the water main and the plumbing fixture in the home. Customers are responsible for infrastructure past the meter and Charlotte Water is responsible for the meter and service line to the water main. A restriction’s location will determine which party is responsible to address the issue.
“What is my water pressure?” This simple question has a complex answer involving multiple factors. Water pressures for Charlotte Water customers will occur in a range dependent on conditions in the Utility’s system as well as the customer’s plumbing.