Thursday, November 17, 2011

In Mourning for Water Pressure

Yesterday the plumbers came and replaced our water heater. Our twenty-three-year-old water heater had begun to act out, leaving rust in our shower and sometimes failing to keep us warm. So a doughy young man with a powerful scent of tobacco came to my house and chatted with my children and removed our old water heater and put in a new one.

There was a slight hiccup when I mentioned that for a month this summer an eastern milksnake had lived under our water heater, poking his head out to wave at my husband while he sat on the toilet. Our young plumber, apparently, was deathly afraid of snakes, and decided to sit out in his truck and wait for his partner to arrive with the new water heater, rather than be anywhere near our basment, alone with an even hypothetical snake.

But the partner came and the snake did not and all was accomplished within four hours.

So we have reliable hot water and I should be happy as a clam. But I am not. No, dear reader, I am not. Because, you see, before we changed water heaters, our house had very high water pressure. Deliciously high water pressure. Our water pressure was my friend. It scrubbed dishes for me, it cleaned my hair down to the scalp, it filled the tub for children with minimal fuss and boredom for a waiting mother. I loved my water pressure. I could have bought the house just for the water pressure.

But that luscious, wonderful water pressure (110 psi) was much too high for city code, and would have invalidated the warranty on our new water heater. So the plumbers - at my request, mind you, THIS IS ALL MY OWN FAULT - installed a pressure reducing valve that brings our pressure down to code (75 psi) and preserves that precious warranty.

We have lost one third of our pressure.

It is like someone overnight picked up my house and moved it to Britain. My shower is a sad, pitiful thing. Oh, I have hot water, but what good is it when I must stand still as a stone under its weak dribble to stay warm? Where are my clouds of steam? Where is the force that detangles my hair without aid of a comb?

My kitchen faucet used to snap to attention with an audible thunk when I turned it on full blast, but now it is quiet and civilized, a demure, gentle thing. Poor faucet. I have emasculated you. You spray my dishes, but I know you're just going through the motions. There is no enthusiasm.

I am told that I will notice a difference when I get my next water bill. And I suppose our new state of European flaccidity is better for the environment. But oh, how I miss the surge and power of yesterday. Everything is changed forever.

Farewell, water pressure. I am glad I knew you.


  1. This makes me sad. Water pressure is not a luxury but a need in my life. I would be miserable. I hope you somehow muddle through. A weak shower is the worst.

  2. if your new house is in Britain, can you get curry chips around the corner? and charming accents? and castles? there may be an upside here...

    no? oh. damn. my sympathies on the water pressure. yes, it's much less wasteful. it's good. but it doesn't feel as good in the shower.

  3. Quadelle11/17/2011

    The place we've just moved into (renting) has outrageously high water pressure. There's no such thing as a dribble!

    I don't know about there, but over here (after years of drought and subsequent water restrictions - which were clearly not heeded by this places' owners) they have developed some amazingly strong shower heads that can make even the lowest water pressure seem like lots.

  4. Anonymous11/17/2011

    I've always lived in houses with wells so I've never had really intense water pressure. Any time I'm travelling and the pressure is strong, I take incredibly long and wasteful showers. If I had my way about it, I'd shower with a fire hose. SCRAPE OFF MY SCALP, I LOVES IT.

  5. The only thing worse than weak water pressure, is weak water pressure AND really soft water. Then you never feel like you get the soap out of your hair. Your skin is dewey soft and glowing b/c of the lack of hard minerals in the water, but it feels slippery. BAH.

  6. AhHAH! This I can help with :) We had the same problem when we moved to our new house... it was awful. BUT. My brilliant husband discovered that you can buy a special shower head that increases the water somehow-- it's some kind of water conserving miracle :) It won't help with the dish washing, but it sure does make showers nice. :) It's WONDERFUL.

  7. "European flaccidity..." Oh, that kills me.

  8. Every time we've visited my parents in these past few years, John has secretly removed the water-saving washer from their shower for the duration of our stay because of their pithy water pressure.

    That said, he might be able to help you out... If water pressure is more important to you than smaller water bills, that is.

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