We just tore down our old house and built a new one on the same lot. Water pressure was good in the old house. In the new house - not so good. The builder has decided to take out all of the flow restrictors on the shower heads as a solution. It seems to me this is just a quick fix but will waste water and energy. What do you think?
JC ~ Birmingham, Alabama
Hi JC, If it wasn't for the fact that you already had a house at the same location and your water pressure was fine, I would suspect that it was a problem with the city water pressure there in Birmingham or whatever county in Alabama you might be getting your water from.
I have built a lot of new homes and one of the first things people usually complain about is that the water pressure isn't as good as where they used to live. In most of those cases it was because the new house was in a locality that had very low water pressure due to being overloaded.
However, since you have already lived in this location and your water pressure was fine, then it has to be something else or a combination of things. I'm assuming the pressure is poor in the whole house; in some cases in new construction some debris can get in a faucet and cause one area of the new house to have poor pressure.
I would say your builder is partially correct in saying the problem is the flow restrictors and water saving devices in the home. The other problem is that your old house was probably built in a time of different building codes and your new house has to adhere to the latest codes. In many cities and counties plumbing contractors are now required to install a pressure reducing valve where the water service enters the home.
The pressure reducing valve helps homeowners as it prevents any spikes in water pressure from damaging any of your plumbing fixtures, but it can also result in water pressure that is lower than what you may be used to in a home without the valve.
Removing the water saving devices from your shower heads is going to help a little, but you are correct that the result may be a waste of water and energy as the additional water is going to be running down your plumbing drains. At the same time I understand how aggravating it can be to take a shower when there doesn't seem to be enough water pressure to take the soap off when rinsing.
Perhaps the answer would be to have your plumbing contractor install a gray water reclamation system. These systems allow you to recycle the water that goes down your tub, shower, and sink drains for other purposes such as lawn irrigation. If you install one of these systems, you can remove your shower flow restrictors knowing that you aren't wasting energy and in the long run you may be saving water depending on how much lawn watering you normally do.
Before you install one of these water reclamation systems check with the plumbing inspectors in Birmingham, Alabama as they aren't approved in all jurisdictions.