Steven L. Smith, Bellingham, WA Home Inspector (King of the House)

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Home Inspection Puzzle: Guess Why?

 Okay, you were not there so this is hard to figure out. But some of the home inspector types like Charlie Buell will probably come pretty close or nail this one. And, since it is my puzzle, I get to give you the clues as I see fit.

This was a home I was inspecting a couple weeks back. I had met with the seller, who was there that day and was walking around with me part of the time. I had begun working and one of the things I do, first off, is check the water pressure. A normal water pressure reading is between 40 and 80 PSI. Too low and it is like a trickle, too high and it can damage the dishwasher, washing machine, hot water heater.

I took the water pressure reading at the back hose bibb at 10:15AM. It was really high, over 100 PSI. I took the reading again, at the same hose bibb, five minutes later and it was fine, down to 55 PSI, and it remained that way. Anyone care to guess what kind of event occurred that "repaired" this problem? Even if you do not care to guess, at least you learned how an inspector reads the water pressure and what the reading should be.

 

  

10:15AM                                                       10:20AM

 

Thanks for guessing.

www.kingofthehouse.com

Steven L. Smith

Bellingham Home inspector

Steven L. Smith

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Comment balloon 11 commentsSteven L. Smith • January 30 2008 10:46PM

Comments

Would that be a sprinkler system running? I have no other idea on what it would be.
Posted by Kurt Vierheller (Flagstar Bank) almost 12 years ago
Good guess Kurt. Truth is, different systems running have a big effect on the pressure. But, had it been a sprinkler, I would have expected it to come back to the high pressure situation so, in my view, that would not have healed it.
Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 12 years ago

How do we get the answer?

I have been trying to figure this out. 

Please do tell!

Posted by Mirela Monte, Myrtle Beach Real Estate (Buyers' Choice Realty) almost 12 years ago
I will tell once more people get a chance to guess. Then, when I do, you will want to kick me square in the seat of my drawers. I will post tomorrow morning. I have a hunch some inspector will guess it.
Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 12 years ago

After reading the pressure the first time did you close the valve and remove your gage before reading it a second time. Or did you leave the gage attached,  close the valve and re open it 5 minutes later...or did you just leave the valve open and gage attached.

Either way; Im guessing that the "problem" was not with the system itself, but only with this hose bib. It was probably seldom used and partially clogged with lime deposits or a broken washer or sticky valve stem. The very act of you opening and closing the valve and then opening it again is what healed the "problem"

 

Posted by Ron Parise (LocateHomes.com) almost 12 years ago
Steve, I have seen this situation with a missing expansion tank and the house has a pressure regulator.  The water heater heats the water and it has no place to expand to because of the pressure regulator so the pressure goes up (thus your high reading in the beginning).  You turn on the water somewhere else and the pressure goes down to normal (your low reading)---what the pressure regulator is set at.  Solution---install an expansion tank.  So Steve, am I right and do I get half your points?:)
Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 12 years ago

Lots of good guesses there. As I said, not being onsite it is all just guessing. Nobody has hit it yet. The problem was with the system -- pressure too high. Now, big rat that I am (second only in the bad, bad vermin category to Charles Buell Seattle Home Inspector) I will post a couple vital clues. The first photo below, by accident, was taken at the site. It was like something I caught in a frame that was not planned and was common that day. The clue: The boots are not mine. Read the blog again, looking for a hidden clue. Also, remember that what was done resolved the problem vs alleviating it for the day. The device in the second photo was onsite too.

  

 

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 12 years ago
Steve, are you really, really, really sure I am not right?  Looks to me like your tag-along ran the water and got his feet all wet at another faucet----and there is the pressure regulator.  So otherwise I have no clue:)---which is not unheard of!
Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 12 years ago

Okay, here is the answer. And I have never had this happen before. The seller, who is a hands on type, saw that the water pressure was too high. He said: "Huh, there was a pressure regulator put in by my crew a couple months back. I bet nobody ever bothered to adjust it". He then crawled down under his house, going down, going down, and adjusted it and came back out and asked me to re-attach the meter and read it again. He was, in fact, owner of an HVAC company that installs all types of waterheaters or boilers so he knew the basics of water pressure and regulators, but for whatever reason it was never set once installed. He had installed an on-demand water heater, with expansion tank, previously. So there was an expansion tank in the system too.

So the shoes are those of the guy who tagged along and went under the house -- pretty aggressive for the average homeowner. And the regulator is there to indicate one was on site. I know, too hard to figure out without being there, but it was an amusing exercise anyway. In the realm of home inspection, someone actually repairing something while you are on-site is among the least common means of resolution of a problem.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 12 years ago
Cheater:)  At least I knew it had something to do with the pressure reducing valve:)
Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 12 years ago

Charlie,

There is no such thing as a cheater. Only a master of illusion and deception.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 12 years ago

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