Can a Pressure Washer Damage Your Pipes?

Many people use pressure washers to clean the outside of their homes, but can you use them to clean the inside of your house as well? Can a pressure washer damage your plumbing?

A pressure washer can your damage plumbing and pipes. The force and pressure that pressure washers use to clean can damage older plumbing and plumbing that was installed incorrectly.

However, there is an attachment that you can use on your pressure washer if you want to avoid damaging your pipes, but clean them with a pressure washer.

How Pressure Washers Damage Plumbing and Pipes

Like I said above, the rapid and abrupt force from the water that pressure washers use can damage older plumbing and that plumbing that was improperly installed. Also, “the well would have more than likely prevented the water hammer effect since a bladder tank would have been present to absorb the shock of the pressure drop and spikes.” source

However, you can clean clogged drains with your pressure washer using an attachment called a sewer jetter. The nozzle typically has a front-firing jet to break apart clogs, and back-firing jets that propels the jetter hose forward into dirty drains and scrubs the sides of the pipes. This is a very handy tool, but it is not something that is commonly found in homes.

The sewer jetter attachment is not easy to find and buy. In order to buy a sewer jetter, you need to buy the entire kit. The entire kit is not very budget-friendly. The cost of the kit ranges from $50-$110.

Below is a video showing you how to clean your pipes with a pressure washer. Although it does not go into great detail about the process, it does tell you what equipment you will need.

What Amount of Pressure Do I Need to Clean the Pipes

The standard water pressure that is used by home owners rather than professionals is designated as 80 psi. However, when higher pressures are required to provide water for other facilities and services, often in the 100-110 psi range, but sometimes as high as 150 psi, this pressure can reach levels that are hazardous to your plumbing, and can damage your pipes.

Additionally, high, unsafe water pressure can also be the result of thermal water expansion, and can be caused by the heat that is within your water heater storage tank. As water is heated, it expands slightly and increases the overall pressure. This can lead to unsafe psi levels, and can put your home plumbing systems at risk of becoming damaged.

How Does Water Pressure Damage Pipes?

Due to the risks associated with high pressurization, it is important to understand how these conditions can damage your pipes internally, as well as common signs of excessive water pressure that you should keep an eye out for.

Continuous water flow at excessive pressure can critically erode your pipes and other plumbing fixtures in a very short amount of time, and ruin the life expectancy and performance of your sinks, faucets, washing machines, and toilets. Overly pressurized water often causes conventional plumbing fixtures to leak, as the stoppers that are within these fixtures, such as those in conventional toilet tanks, will not be able to stop water from forcing its way through.

Additionally, high water pressure contributes to what is known as the “water hammer” effect. When you shut off your water fixtures that have a regular amount of psi flow, the internal air chambers effectively protect your pipes from becoming damaged when the running water stops.

However, overly-pressurized water flow negates the effects of these chambers when the water is suddenly stopped. This results in a “hammer” effect that can damage critical pipe joints, valves, and fixture heads. While these damages can be repaired by trained and certified plumbers if you are in a pinch, it is better to avoid them altogether. You can do this by monitoring your water pressure and water consumption. If the water pressure or water consumption suddenly changes, and you do not have any ideas why they would change, contact a local plumber and have them check on your plumbing.

When to Clean Pipes

If your plumbing starts to back up or your toilet has had trouble while flushing, it may be time for clean your pipes. As a general rule, you should schedule a cleaning of your pipes and plumbing every 18-22 months if you want to avoid the hassle of a sewer back-up. You should also do this in order to avoid allowing a problem to go undetected to the point it becomes a major, and very expensive, repair. You may be able to do this by yourself if you have the proper knowledge and equipment, but it is better if you have a certified plumber do the job instead, just in case something goes wrong and you do not know how to fix it.

If you want to clean your pipes by yourself, and do not want to pay a professional to do the job, then you will need to buy the sewer jetting pressure washer kit. Although it can be very expensive, it may be worth it to you if you plan on cleaning your pipes frequently, and do not want to hire a plumber every time you need to clean your pipes.

How Can I Tell If My Pipes Are Damaged?

Even though you may not have used a pressure washer to clean your pipes, your pipes and plumbing may be damaged. Listed below are some signs that your pipes or plumbing is damaged.

  • Outrageous Water Bill
  • Rumbling Near Your Water Main
  • Clanging or Grinding
  • Unpleasant Odor
  • Puddles of Water
  • Damp Drywall or Ceiling
  • Poor Water Pressure
  • Poor Water Quality,

If you begin to notice any of these signs, do not wait to call a local plumber. If you wait to fix any of these issues, they will become very expensive as the damage spreads. You should also call a plumber if you notice that any of your pipes are leaking, since the leak may be a sign that there is a larger problem with your pipes.

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