Water Education - Water and Health

Water Pressure Explained

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When we turn on the kitchen faucet or start a bath, how the water is coming out may not be something we think about. (Unless of course it is just dripping or not coming out at all!) But, water pressure is something that we should all be familiar with. Water pressure is a measure of the force in which water flows through our pipes. We need this pressure to push the water through the pipes and into our homes, businesses and industries.. Many appliances will not work if the pressure is low, for example a fire hydrant cannot extinguish water if the pressure is minimal or down to a trickle at 10psi.

Water Tower

Most households receive water from a municipal water system. In this method, the water is usually extracted from various groundwater sources and then treated to remove impurities. It is then pumped to water towers, and then gravity takes over to provide the pressure that forces the water through pipes, and eventually to our homes. A similar process will take place in closed systems, as well as in lakes and reservoirs. Water pressure may vary for homes with city water due to old infrastructure issues with the city system or being located a long distance from the main water line. Homes with conventional private wells will often experience inadequate or lower water pressure as well.

The pressure of water may also vary according to their elevation to the water source, as well as with the system that is delivering the water in. A plumbing company website says, "A cubic foot of water weighs 62.4 lb. and exerts .4333 lbs of pressure per square inch on the bottom of its container at a depth of one foot. Therefore, the discharge pressure of a water storage tower 100 ft. tall will be 43.33 psi. If your house is in a valley 50 ft. below the bottom of the tower, the theoretical water pressure at your house will be approximately 65 psi, reduced by the friction in the pipes." Water pressure can vary at different times of the day. Pressure is normally higher later at night when there is less of a water demand, and lower in the morning when more water is being shared by many. No matter what the cause, fluctuating water pressure and flow can disrupt the way your home works.

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