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I took a shower last night before bed and the water pressure in our house was perfectly fine. This morning the water is drizzling out from all faucets, showers and fixtures. I've checked the water main, the basement in general, and the whole house (inside and out) looking for a visible leak: zilch.

I contacted the town water department: our account is in good standing and they are willing to send someone out tomorrow to see if anything is wrong with our main. The idea here is that if I can determine that the water coming into the house is OK, then I need to call a plumber and figure out what's going on inside. But, obviously, if the water coming into the house has bad pressure, then that's a town problem.

I spoke to their chief maintenance guy, who is coming over tomorrow, and he said there's no real way for him to test the pressure coming into the house, except if he can "hook in some place" with a pressure valve.

I call bologna on this: there has to be a way for them to test water pressure at every stage in the pipeline, right? I guess my specific question here is:

What tests can be done to determine whether the bad pressure is coming from the main itself, or is coming from a clog/leak somewhere inside my house?

This is a small town (1 traffic light) and I'm worried about a situation where the town guys are too lazy to diagnose and fix a problem on their end, and keep telling me there's nothing they can do, and I'm stuck with virtually-no water (but paying for it anyways).

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2 Answers 2

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You need to figure out if any water is available before your main shut-off valve. If so check the water pressure there.

If there is no water pressure it is a deal with your main feed or the line in between your house and main. This area is often very grey in most towns but I would put this on the town before touching it.

If you are getting water pressure then shut down your shut off valve for 10-20 mins. You said you were getting some water. So if you shut it off there should be build up. Then open the tap closest to the shut-off. If you get a burst of water then you have an inside issue. A lot of times this happens at a bend right before the shut-off or sometimes it is the shut-off valve itself. 99% of these issues are either with the city or within 10 feet of the main shut-off.

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Thanks @DMoore (+1) - good advice. Quick terminology question(s). The way I see it is there are 3 major pipes in this equation: (1) the pipe running through my neighborhood, from which water mains branch off into every house, (2) the water main between this line and my house, and (3) the water main once its inside my house, and before other water supply lines (hoses, faucets, showers, etc.) branch off from it. What is the name of #1 and #3 above? Thanks again! –  bfodder Jun 11 at 16:55
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@bfodder The pipe that runs through the neighborhood is called a "main". The pipe that branches off the main and runs to your house is called a "service", "supply", or "branch" pipe. The pipe inside your house could be known as a "trunk", from which "branches" split out to the fixtures. –  Tester101 Jun 11 at 17:23

Check your hose bibs outside the house, those typically are first in line. If those are low pressure then its before your house. If those are good, then it's in your house. As for water company checking pressure, what they said is correct. They just don't install the monitoring equipment to do that. They will install pressure gauges at key points in the distribution network but that's it. From water main to your house there will be no way for them to check.

Also, check your water meter. If its spinning with no visible water use then you have a leak.

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Good advice to check the water meter. If you're not using water, and the meter is spinning, you've got a leak. –  Tester101 Jun 11 at 16:40
    
Thanks @diceless (+1) - however one quick followup here: you say that the hose "bibs" are "typically first in line". Can you explain what you mean by that? Do you mean that the outside hoses are usually the first water supplies to break away from the water main coming into my house? Also, what are hose bibs?!? Not familiar with that term. Thanks again! –  bfodder Jun 11 at 16:53
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@bfodder A hose bib (aka spigot) is the fixture on the outside of the house where you connect a garden hose. They usually consist of a valve to control the flow of water, and a threaded opening where a hose can be attached. It's common for the plumbing to split out to these fixtures first (since they're closest to ground level), in a trunk and branch configuration. –  Tester101 Jun 11 at 17:14
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@bfodder low pressure at the hose bibs does not guarantee the problem is outside the hose. –  Tester101 Jun 11 at 17:16
    
Thanks @Tester101 (+3) for all your helpful comments! –  bfodder Jun 11 at 18:02

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