Home Inspection – psi of water flow

water-pressure-reducing-valveI’m not spending a whole lot of time wondering where the market “is” over the past few weeks, because any 40 day period when I am juggling issues from 5 different home inspections, suggests the market is clearly “picking up”.

One of the big differences between a buyer’s market and a seller’s market, is the amount of detail that is encountered in the home inspection process.  In a hot seller’s market, the inspection phase was mostly about “pass or fail” and most often buyers were willing to overlook minor issues of minimal cost factor.

In a buyer’s market, every inspection item is of importance and concern.  Often it’s not about “well, I don’t want the house unless…”.  It’s more about having a better and full understanding of what you are buying, and what major or minor items need to be addressed by the seller, or even by the buyer after they own the home.

The picture above is a “water pressure reducing valve”. Pretty simple stuff, but the discussions back and forth when the inspector says “the psi is too high” can get very complex.  While it is true that the municiple service supplying water will adjust psi that is outside of its designated “normal range”, they are often  not talking about the same psi as the inspector.

The above water pressure reducing valve is placed to control the psi level at a particular home. The municipality may be, and will likely be, talking about the psi level of the pipe in the street supporting the flow to all of the nearby homes.

To complicate things even further, there are two water lines to the house in question, one of which services the internal fire sprinkler system.  If you reduce the psi below 80 so that the pressure is not too high for smaller water tubes in your dishwasher or water purifier or refrigerator ice and water dispenser lines, you have to be careful not to reduce the psi for the fire sprinkler system.

When the house has an internal fire sprinkler system, there are usually two water lines coming into the house.  One is for the domestic water, the other is for the sprinkler system.  The psi levels needed for each are different.

While agents can’t be specialists in all things, we often are the line of communication back and forth, and back and forth, until the issue is understood enough by all parties to be resolved properly. When inspections go sideways, often it is a communication failure vs. an unwillingness for the buyer or seller to address the item.

In this case, I also had to find a Fire Sprinkler System specialist to come and inspect it separately, as a general inspector can only go so far with items that require specific vs. general expertise.

I’m not going to go into the specifics of what level the psi should be, as there are varying opinions. I do find this article to be generally correct, as I undertand the pros and cons of various levels affecting various portions of the home.  I am hoping this post will bring comments from people who want to discuss this issue further amongst themselves, since it is a fairly common, and not well understood, aspect of a buyer’s home inspection.

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ARDELL is a Managing Broker with Better Properties METRO King County. ARDELL was named one of the Most Influential Real Estate Bloggers in the U.S. by Inman News and has 33+ years experience in Real Estate up and down both Coasts, representing both buyers and sellers of homes in Seattle and on The Eastside. email: ardelld@gmail.com cell: 206-910-1000

8 thoughts on “Home Inspection – psi of water flow

  1. Portland Real Estate,

    I have “specialists” come in all the time. Often it’s an HVAC contractor and when I want a heater “checked” by a specialist, I usually include a servicing of the heater at the same time.

    Same is true for wood burning fireplaces. If you are going to have one inspected, you might as well have it cleaned as part of the inspection.

    In our contracts, the general inspector can call for a 2nd inspection of one or more individual components of the main inspection. It’s part of the standard contract, which makes it easier for agents to “keep going” until we know as much as possible before getting to the end of the inspection timeframe(s). The 2nd inspection adds 5 additional days to the response timeframe, automatically, without needing the seller’s separate consent.

    Works well.

  2. I want a fire sprinkler system in my home. Are they common at all? Do they really jack up the price of a house?
    I didn’t know you can get the municipality to change the water pressure coming into the house. My mom would be happy to know that.

  3. Joel,

    They are about as common as a central vac system, and affect the value about the same as well…not much if at all. The sprinklers are not affected by smoke, so you still need to have smoke detectors.

    When you first see a sprinkler head in the ceiling, it makes you think it is going to “rain inside the house” at whim. Most have a glass tube in the sprinkler head that breaks only in extreme temperatures, and each sprinkler head operates separately. If there is a fire in the kitchen, the sprinklers don’t go off in the bedroom.

    It’s always good to check with a municipality before adjusting the psi upward, as some have restrictions for water conservation reasons. Usually when the psi is called in an inspection, it is because it is too high, not too low.

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