150 psi affect on plumbing valves and creation of leak behind shower

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OttoW

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Last week, my home's water pressure experienced a surge to nearly 150 psi (as estimated the next day by the water company crew which was repairing a ruptured main related to my neighborhood's surge). The surge resulted in many of my valves and fixtures to fail and leak water - two water heaters, all five shower heads, and several toilets' flush valves. The house did not have a water pressure reducer installed at the time of the surge.

The following day, I installed a pressure reducer on the home's main water line and set it to 45 psi. Within a few hours all of the valves that failed after the pressure surge stopped leaking. A week later, there haven't been any signs of valve failure.

QUESTION #1 - Do valves, that had been working fine prior to a high pressure surge, typically return to full functionality if water pressure is returned to a "normal" level such as 45 psi? Or do these valves experience permanent damage from a high pressure surge and I should expect leakage or other problems some time in the future (other than normal wear and tear through age/use)?

In addition to all shower heads leaking after the surge, I experienced a slow dripping in my kitchen ceiling coming from the edge of a circular cutout where a recessed light is installed. This cutout is directly below a second floor shower which had been leaking from the shower head into the shower area after the surge. I believe that the dripping in my kitchen was originating from the concealed part of the shower valve and/or the hot or cold pex lines feeding the shower (because the shower head leak was draining into the shower area). So, when I installed the main line pressure reducer I also installed shut off valves (under the house) on both the hot and cold lines for this particular shower. The lines are currently drained and the valves are turned off so that I can isolate the area which was dripping in my kitchen - to confirm there is a leak and to make future necessary repairs without disrupting the water supply to the rest of the house. There is no dripping in the kitchen now with water restored to the entire house (less the isolated area/pex lines) and I have not recharged either pex line with water yet.

QUESTION #2 - Is it possible for the dripping in the kitchen to have been caused by the pressure surge of 150 psi and a failed shower valve, such as leaking from the part of the valve concealed in the wall? Is it likely that this particular valve will return to normal, similar to the other valves in the house, now that water pressure is at 45 psi? Or is it more likely that the dripping is from one of the pex lines feeding the shower or a compromised connector? If this is the likely situation, what is the best and least destructive way to identify the leak's source and make repairs (the shower area is entirely tiled and the plumbing is only accessible by cutting into walls, floors, and/or ceilings)? Within hours of the kitchen drips, I removed the exposed cover and handle to the valve - the wood studs and area immediately behind the valve appeared dry.

Thank you.
 

John Gayewski

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The power surge likley caused dripping from the fixtures due to sediment kicked loose in the piping. Most fixtures can handle 150 psi for short periods of time.

The dripping coming from the ceiling is odd. You'll want to make sure it's not a coincidence that the drain area showed a leak around the same time as the surge. You'll do that by leaving the water off to the shower, but pouring plenty of water down and around the drain and around where the fixture meets the wall.

Otherwise you could by a cheap camera and use small concealable holes in the walls to look at the piping connections.
 

OttoW

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The power surge likley caused dripping from the fixtures due to sediment kicked loose in the piping. Most fixtures can handle 150 psi for short periods of time.

The dripping coming from the ceiling is odd. You'll want to make sure it's not a coincidence that the drain area showed a leak around the same time as the surge. You'll do that by leaving the water off to the shower, but pouring plenty of water down and around the drain and around where the fixture meets the wall.

Otherwise you could by a cheap camera and use small concealable holes in the walls to look at the piping connections.
Thank you for replying. As you suggested, I poured lots of water (bucketloads' worth) all around the tiled shower area. All of the water went down the drain without any problem and there hasn't been any sign of water in the ceiling below. So, this pretty much rules out any coincidence and bolsters my thinking that the ceiling leakage likely originated from behind the shower wall and possibly from the pex lines feeding the shower (remember, these two lines have been shut off and isolated from the rest of the house's water system. And, the ceiling has never shown any more signs of water since the surge and since the house's water supply was restored). I'll start looking for the leak as you suggest, preferably through concealed areas. Thanks again.
 

Jeff H Young

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pex pipe will handle 150 but toilets and such may malfuntion the fill valves on toilets arent perfect they are prone to failure are a bit tempermental to fhave problems faucet catridges can malfunction too. on a brand new home Id say it5 wont hurt a thing on parts that are even a few years old it could effect.
No idea how old any of this stuff is but here is a free 5 minute test or as long as you want .
1 open valves to shower.
2 run water to bleed air at shower.
3 install test guage (remove shower head)
4 open valve at shower note pressure
5 close valves under house note and monitor pressure .
it leaks or dosent leak it could have leaked around valve and you just didnt see anything
 

OttoW

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The house is about 22 years old. Most of the flush valves are less than 5 years old, but being inherently weak valves they probably couldn't handle the one-time pressure surge. Fortunately, three weeks later and no more leaks from any fixtures.

As for the suspected leak around the shower, thanks for your idea to test the shower's lines. I'll try it out soon.
 

OttoW

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Thanks. I'll keep your info from Answer #1 in the back of my head as a likely or possible explanation for future leaks. The house is 22 years old and, although many valves and fixtures have been replaced over the years, the pressure surge certainly didn't help matters.
When I get a chance, I'm going to do more exploratory work on the possible leak behind the shower. Until then, the two pex lines that feed the shower are shut off and isolated from the rest of the house's water supply.
Thanks for your help!
 

sajesak

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Last week, my home's water pressure experienced a surge to nearly 150 psi (as estimated the next day by the water company crew which was repairing a ruptured main related to my neighborhood's surge). The surge resulted in many of my valves and fixtures to fail and leak water - two water heaters, all five shower heads, and several toilets' flush valves. The house did not have a water pressure reducer installed at the time of the surge.

The following day, I installed a pressure reducer on the home's main water line and set it to 45 psi. Within a few hours all of the valves that failed after the pressure surge stopped leaking. A week later, there haven't been any signs of valve failure.

QUESTION #1 - Do valves, that had been working fine prior to a high pressure surge, typically return to full functionality if water pressure is returned to a "normal" level such as 45 psi? Or do these valves experience permanent damage from a high pressure surge and I should expect leakage or other problems some time in the future (other than normal wear and tear through age/use)?

In addition to all shower heads leaking after the surge, I experienced a slow dripping in my kitchen ceiling coming from the edge of a circular cutout where a recessed light is installed. This cutout is directly below a second floor shower which had been leaking from the shower head into the shower area after the surge. I believe that the dripping in my kitchen was originating from the concealed part of the shower valve and/or the hot or cold pex lines feeding the shower (because the shower head leak was draining into the shower area). So, when I installed the main line pressure reducer I also installed shut off valves (under the house) on both the hot and cold lines for this particular shower. The lines are currently drained and the valves are turned off so that I can isolate the area which was dripping in my kitchen - to confirm there is a leak and to make future necessary repairs without disrupting the water supply to the rest of the house. There is no dripping in the kitchen now with water restored to the entire house (less the isolated area/pex lines) and I have not recharged either pex line with water yet.

QUESTION #2 - Is it possible for the dripping in the kitchen to have been caused by the pressure surge of 150 psi and a failed shower valve, such as leaking from the part of the valve concealed in the wall? Is it likely that this particular valve will return to normal, similar to the other valves in the house, now that water pressure is at 45 psi? Or is it more likely that the dripping is from one of the pex lines feeding the shower or a compromised connector? If this is the likely situation, what is the best and least destructive way to identify the leak's source and make repairs (the shower area is entirely tiled and the plumbing is only accessible by cutting into walls, floors, and/or ceilings)? Within hours of the kitchen drips, I removed the exposed cover and handle to the valve - the wood studs and area immediately behind the valve appeared dry.
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Thank you.
  1. Valves can be affected by sudden pressure surges, and they may not always return to full functionality on their own. It's possible that some of the valves experienced damage during the high-pressure surge. While reducing the water pressure to a normal level (45 psi in your case) is a good step to prevent further damage, there's no guarantee that previously affected valves will return to normal. You should keep an eye on these valves for any signs of leakage or other issues. If they seem to be functioning fine now, that's a positive sign.
  2. Dripping in your kitchen could indeed be caused by the pressure surge and a compromised shower valve. The concealed part of the valve might have been affected, leading to the drip in your kitchen ceiling. The pressure reduction to 45 psi should help prevent further damage, but it's essential to confirm the source of the leak. To identify the exact location of the leak, you may need to access the plumbing behind the shower wall. This could involve cutting into the wall, floor, or ceiling, depending on where the issue is. Consider consulting a professional plumber to assess the situation and perform necessary repairs with minimal disruption to your home.
In both cases, monitoring the affected areas and seeking professional guidance may be the best approach to ensure that your plumbing system is in good condition and to address any potential issues promptly.
 
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