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    realbobsaget's Avatar
    realbobsaget Posts: 4, Reputation: 1
    New Member

    Sep 15, 2015, 08:20 AM
    High water pressure causing pipes to break?
    I live in an apartment complex with polybutylene piping, and it has broken 3 times in 1.5 years I have lived there. The breaks are always in the same area, and the pipes also knock. I asked the apartment manager if he had checked the pressure because if the pipes are breaking that often then high pressure could be causing it. He claims the only way to solve the problem is to fix the pipes when they break. This morning I went and bought a pressure gauge and found the bib outside had a little over 70psi, is that high enough to cause a problem? Should a PRV be installed? If he continues to do nothing about the issue should I contact the county housing inspector?
    massplumber2008's Avatar
    massplumber2008 Posts: 12,825, Reputation: 1211
    Senior Plumbing Expert

    Sep 15, 2015, 10:04 AM
    PRVs are required by most states to be installed at pressures that exceed 80 PSI, so you fall under that with the 70 PSI you present.

    In terms of the breaking pipes, I'm afraid your apartment manager is correct in his approach to the issue (from a managerial perspective anyway). Here, PB piping is famous for this problem (there was a recall and a class action settlement years ago now), and short of removing all of it in the building (very costly), the only way to deal with the problem is piece by piece... at least until enough damage occurs that the management has enough and starts to replace piping one unit at a time, right?

    Sorry, but that's all I have for you! Good luck!

    speedball1's Avatar
    speedball1 Posts: 29,301, Reputation: 1939
    Eternal Plumber

    Sep 16, 2015, 10:09 AM
    I disagree with the apartment manager. A PVR value should be installed to drop the house pressure to 45 PSI. 45 PSI is normal pressure. See if that doesn't improve your situation.
    Good luck,
    realbobsaget's Avatar
    realbobsaget Posts: 4, Reputation: 1
    New Member

    Sep 16, 2015, 11:37 PM
    Thanks for the replies. I just went and checked the pressure again and it was at 80psi, but it's 2:00 am. I took a picture of the gauge at 80, and I am thinking about going to talk to him about it. Do you think if a PRV was installed it would reduce how often the breaks occur? If he still refuses to do anything about it would I have anything to make him fix it like calling the county building inspector?
    massplumber2008's Avatar
    massplumber2008 Posts: 12,825, Reputation: 1211
    Senior Plumbing Expert

    Sep 17, 2015, 04:04 AM
    Although I don't think the inspector could make the apartment complex install the PRV when pressure is hovering around 70-80 PSI I would think the apartment manager and its insurance company would like to see the pressure reduced to say 45-60 PSI. Installing a PRV is pretty cheap and it certainly can't hurt anything. I think it's a good idea to present the idea that pressure is high and you are only trying to help! See what they say?
    hkstroud's Avatar
    hkstroud Posts: 11,929, Reputation: 899
    Home Improvement & Construction Expert

    Sep 17, 2015, 07:03 AM
    and the pipes also knock
    If you have polybutylene piping, I wonder how that could be happening piping
    Mike45plus's Avatar
    Mike45plus Posts: 230, Reputation: 27
    Full Member

    Sep 18, 2015, 04:17 AM
    Real Bob,
    Knowing there will be a leak every six months, and not being proactive, especially when there is documentation of a faulty product, opens someone up to what could be a significant liability claim. I would review your rental agreement in regards to liability & responsibility, and consult with a lawyer to draft a letter voicing your concerns for the safety of all tenants on the property - send a copy to the building manager, your local building code official, & all insurance companies involved. Water & electricity don't mix well, and in the event of a water pipe break and flood, there could be substantial personal property loss or worse.
    I suggest at the least, installing a solenoid valve on the water supply to your apartment; it can be wired to a switch in a convenient location that would allow you to shut off the water to your apartment when you leave or go to sleep. I would also ask your building management to check the water chemistry, polybutlyene pipe was affected by certain water condition issues, and it may be beneficial to install a water treatment system.
    Repiping an apartment is not a big or complicated job - this type of repipe can be done in one or two days, and with proper planning & technique, openings made in walls & ceilings for routing pipes can be easily patched. I would get several estimates for this repipe / repair, and check with your insurance company, they may pay for all or part of the repairs...
    massplumber2008's Avatar
    massplumber2008 Posts: 12,825, Reputation: 1211
    Senior Plumbing Expert

    Sep 18, 2015, 02:45 PM
    As a renter, Bob can certainly consult a lawyer and send a letter of concern. He can also discuss options and he can increase his rental insurance, but in most cases he cannot simply install a "solenoid valve" on his pipes or alter his apartment in any way. Re piping the apartment will also not be an option here as Bob does not own the property... no apartment complex that I know of would allow this. Your information is certainly valid, but it is valid only to the owner of the property and if they haven't made the changes to date I can only image it is because there are MULTIPLE units or the owners are jerks. Either way, Bob is probably better off moving then starting a major battle over this stuff!

    By the way, Bob, how many apartment units in your complex??
    realbobsaget's Avatar
    realbobsaget Posts: 4, Reputation: 1
    New Member

    Sep 20, 2015, 03:08 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by hkstroud View Post
    If you have polybutylene piping, I wonder how that could be happening piping

    When I say they knock, I mean in my bathroom when I turn the sink on it will begin to click in the walls and the longer its on the faster it knocks/clicks until I turn the water off which will then cause the tapping to slow down until it eventually ends.
    realbobsaget's Avatar
    realbobsaget Posts: 4, Reputation: 1
    New Member

    Sep 20, 2015, 03:25 PM
    There are around 20 buildings and each building has about 6 units in it. About half the units are condos that someone owns and either uses part time or rents out. The other half are rented directly through the apartment management. My unit is rented from the owner who is a family friend of mine. I am stuck in a lease here until July 2016.

    The management company is responsible for maintenance regardless of who owns the unit. The owners of my unit are now involved but they haven't really kept me in the loop with their talks to the manager. I am afraid that the issue will not be fixed right because the manager refuses to acknowledge the pressure could contribute to the pipes breaking more often than if a PRV was installed. When I try to talk to him he is rude and acts like he knows everything, and he has treated several of my friends the same way about a variety of different problems. The apartment management is standing by their claim that it would be impossible to repipe the entire complex and they claim they will just continue to fix the units as they break. It is problematic because it is a college apartment complex and most people are gone during the summer, but leave their stuff and still pay rent.

    My friends unit in a different building had a pipe break last week in the same place mine always breaks. I have also been checking the water pressure and at night it is always right at 80 psi, but I haven't checked it past 2 AM and the later I check the higher the psi is.

    The place is built terribly and the doors are all crooked on the frame. There was a beer can and bottle that looked 15 years old that was in the wall they opened to fix the pipe. The inside of the wall was covered in water spots.

    I don't know if it would mean our water needs to be treated, but when you get water out of the tap it sometimes comes out cloudy, and takes 10 minutes to become clear. The water will also leave hard water stains on glass.

    I do not think the people who own my unit fully understand how serious the problem is (at least in my opinion). How should I check that they properly dried the walls and floor so that mold will not form? I am stuck here another year and do not currently have renters insurance, but I am considering getting it now.
    Milo Dolezal's Avatar
    Milo Dolezal Posts: 7,192, Reputation: 523
    Plumbing Expert

    Sep 20, 2015, 03:31 PM
    A lot has been already said... Just would like to add:

    With non-metalic water pipes, like PEX, we always install pressure regulator regardless of the low existing pressure - with a pressure gauge. We set the pressure for 55 psi.

    In many cases, we install another pressure regulator with pressure gauge on the pipe right before it enters hot water heater as hot water pipe has less tolerance for pressure as cold water side. This way we make sure that if the primary pressure regulator fails, the other one will still regulate pressure to the more pressure sensitive hot water side.

    Hope that helps


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