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Water company over pressured my home

aylerclaylercl Posts: 11Member
A couple of months ago the water company over pressured my home .. significantly. There were multiple main line pipe breaks in the neighborhood, current count is 7.. Even with a 300psi rated PRV (that still functioned properly after incident) installed at the utility connection this burst my water filter housing and the 1" Type L copper pipes leading to my water heater are ALL now seeping at every solder joint .. where there were zero leaks before for the past 3 years. Just before the filter housing burst, my tankless water heater's restriction valve was caviating , attempting to hold back the water and both of the pressure safety valves were releasing water. The water heater is capable of 120k BTU and 6 gpm max at the water inlet temperature set at 120deg F. The safety valves are in series (the 2nd in a small inline tank water heater) both rated at 150psi, one is CSA rated at 200k BTU the other at 105K BTU. Can someone help me determine approximately what minimum pressure it would have taken to drive 6+ gpm through these valves? And if I had this pressure on the low pressure side of the PRV, what would the minimum pressure be on the utility side?

Comments

  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 12,115Member
    I can see that the forensic expert witnesses are going to have fun with this one. Therefore... the only two things I could possibly say are "a fair amount" and "it is much more likely to have been a pressure spike rather than an steady state over pressure"". Otherwise -- too many variables.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • STEVEusaPASTEVEusaPA Posts: 3,812Member
    What does the water company have to say?
    At least it wasn't a gas line like the disaster that happened up in New England.
    steve
  • aylerclaylercl Posts: 11Member

    I can see that the forensic expert witnesses are going to have fun with this one. Therefore... the only two things I could possibly say are "a fair amount" and "it is much more likely to have been a pressure spike rather than an steady state over pressure"". Otherwise -- too many variables.

    Yeah it was a spike, in that the pressure was the highest earlier in the night, but after there were 7 main breaks in the neighborhood that reduced the pressure to 210psi on my hose bib (on the low pressure side of my PRV) when the plumber arrived to check it at 6am. I turned off my water when the filter burst, I didn't see or hear anything from anyone else so initially thought it was my issue. So I'm trying to come up with a number at 9pm when the issue happened. My house is in a pressure zone that is mostly gravity fed by water storage coming from the mountains, but in this zone they have a pumping station that pumps the water up from a lower lake to several storage tanks for use in lower elevation zones . I have a bunch of other data points all showing that the pressure in my house was around 400+ PSI - , my 300psi regulator was overwhelmed but not damaged, the water filter housing is PVC and significantly thicker than SCH40 but slightly thinner than SCH 80. The pipes the water company uses are pressure class 150 or SCH 80. But the high pressure issue resolved itself within 30min of notifying the water company... before they dug anything up or disrupted service ... so I suspect a failure with their pumping, valves, automation, something in their pump station.
  • aylerclaylercl Posts: 11Member

    What does the water company have to say?
    At least it wasn't a gas line like the disaster that happened up in New England.

    Yeah. I'm just glad I got rid of my 80gal water heater a few years ago .. the water heater is just on the other side of the wall from my son's room. The water company admits there was a pressure event .. but claims its a PRV that failed on my street and they are not aware of any other issues. They said the calculated static pressure at my house would have been about 230 psi and my PRV should have handled the pressure. But in their calculation they neglected to subtract pressure (50-100psi) due to another PRV they have in the system. All of the PRVs in my neighborhood are buried under asphalt .. so by the condition of the streets where they are (untouched) and the fact they fixed the pressure problem so quickly w/o disrupting service, breaks at the same time in other pressure zones at higher elevations (and at least 5 other facts .. I wrote an 11 page doc "disagreeing" with their explanation) this couldn't be an issue just do to one PRV failing on their gravity system.
  • pecmsgpecmsg Posts: 1,115Member
    How do you know it hit 300#'s?
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 10,489Member
    What do you ultimately hope to gain from this research?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 12,115Member
    For some reason, @ChrisJ , I have a suspicion of legal eagles circling the boat. Although I could say a good bit about this, honestly unless I had a retainer in hand, in the high five figures, and a signed contract for hourly (high 3), expenses, and a generous TDY allowance, I'd say nothing.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • pecmsgpecmsg Posts: 1,115Member

    For some reason, @ChrisJ , I have a suspicion of legal eagles circling the boat. Although I could say a good bit about this, honestly unless I had a retainer in hand, in the high five figures, and a signed contract for hourly (high 3), expenses, and a generous TDY allowance, I'd say nothing.

    and the water company's attorneys still have deeper pockets!
  • aylerclaylercl Posts: 11Member
    pecmsg said:

    How do you know it hit 300#'s?

    Many things point that direction, and I think it was at least 300 psi (on the low pressure side of my PRV). We measured 200psi at my hose bib, 8hrs after my filter burst .. and by then the water pressure had time to break in at least 5 other locations within 1/4 mile of my house. I installed a tankless water heater about 4 years ago. When I installed it I used 1" type L copper pipe. Before the overpressure none of the solder joints leaks, now every single one (9 joints .. tight space) between the wall and the water filter is seeping a bit. These have a max working pressure of 420psi. At that same time I installed a whole house water filter (which is what burst), the housing is PVC at its thinnest its .04" thinner than SCH80 PVC. So at a 5.25" dia that puts it's min burst pressure around 600 psi. My neighbor 4 doors up had their hot water expansion tank bust (same time, we have the same prv) those like rated water heaters have to handle at least 330psi. The water company pipes that broke all have min burst pressure of 755psi (less the 300+ psi my regulator held back) ~ 400ish psi ..
  • aylerclaylercl Posts: 11Member

    For some reason, @ChrisJ , I have a suspicion of legal eagles circling the boat. Although I could say a good bit about this, honestly unless I had a retainer in hand, in the high five figures, and a signed contract for hourly (high 3), expenses, and a generous TDY allowance, I'd say nothing.

    Not yet .. the water company is reconsidering their prior decision after I presented this and other data to their board of directors. But my house and several others suffered damage that day and since. In my case this did at least 60k in damage to my house and a lot more than that to business tools and equipment.

    But more importantly beyond $$$ is safety. This hit many homes .. if someone's water heater over pressure valve would have failed that could have been deadly. More critically, one of the the only things that could have created pressure this high is one of their pumping stations (in my zone) .. which fills tanks holding several million gallons .. and are located above a middle school and a high school.. This happened at the time they ramp the pumps up (power at its cheapest).

    The only data I have w/o going legal, is what happened to me and my neighbors . SO .. if I know what pressure hit my house, I can determine what the pressure was at the tanks and if their safety protocols were sufficient .. or not. The more data I have, the better. And if the water company is not doing their job someone needs call them out on it.. If you don't want to help, that's fine.

    But they didn't know about the issue until my plumber called them .. so some level of safety protocol failed.
  • Leon82Leon82 Posts: 653Member
    Why would you have 300 for your residence prv? I have mine regulated to 55
  • aylerclaylercl Posts: 11Member
    ChrisJ said:

    What do you ultimately hope to gain from this research?

    I know that the pressure at my hose bib was over 200psi the next morning (10hrs later) and that my 300psi rated PRV was still functioning once the pressure issue was resolved. I want to know what it was when the event first happened, before the all of the water mains broke.

    I have two priorities. Obviously .. Have the water company pay for the damage they caused that insurance won't cover. But most importantly understand the cause of the failure, that critical infrastructure was not damaged or is fixed if it was, and make sure that it is properly addressed so it doesn't happen again.

    If I can prove what happened at my house we can hold the water company accountable. That simple.
  • aylerclaylercl Posts: 11Member
    pecmsg said:

    For some reason, @ChrisJ , I have a suspicion of legal eagles circling the boat. Although I could say a good bit about this, honestly unless I had a retainer in hand, in the high five figures, and a signed contract for hourly (high 3), expenses, and a generous TDY allowance, I'd say nothing.

    and the water company's attorneys still have deeper pockets!
    Don't count on it..
  • aylerclaylercl Posts: 11Member
    Leon82 said:

    Why would you have 300 for your residence prv? I have mine regulated to 55

    Its a 300psi rated PRV, it was/is set to 60psi. I live in the foothills, so significant elevation changes from ~ 500ft above sea level to 2000ft within 10miles of me, with a lot of ups and downs in between. So we need to have heavy duty pressure regulators so that the water company has more range to deal with the topology.
  • hot_rodhot_rod Posts: 12,564Member
    did the T&P on the water heater discharge? Usually 150 psi on those
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • aylerclaylercl Posts: 11Member
    hot_rod said:

    did the T&P on the water heater discharge? Usually 150 psi on those

    Yeah. I have a tankless and a small tank water heater to keep the recirc loop going, so 2 in series. Both were discharging.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 12,115Member
    Look. I didn't say that I mightn't be interested. I did state, however, what I would need to even begin to be interested -- and I doubt very much that you will find an expert who was worth anything who would be willing to endure the project for anything less.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • hot_rodhot_rod Posts: 12,564Member
    aylercl said:

    Leon82 said:

    Why would you have 300 for your residence prv? I have mine regulated to 55

    Its a 300psi rated PRV, it was/is set to 60psi. I live in the foothills, so significant elevation changes from ~ 500ft above sea level to 2000ft within 10miles of me, with a lot of ups and downs in between. So we need to have heavy duty pressure regulators so that the water company has more range to deal with the topology.

    It is often a good idea to have PRVs in series if you have or experience spikes like that. 3-1 is about the biggest step you want in a regulator.

    Set the first one high, the second one to the desired pressure.

    Maybe a pressure only relief valve at the PRV like you see on well tanks, with a discharge tube to a drain or location that can handle the flow.

    A data logger might be an interesting add on to show the water provider the spikes you see. Find them on e-bay for a good price.

    Any large gpm flow in the mains and quick shut off can send spikes, like a fire hydrant flow and shut off.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • aylerclaylercl Posts: 11Member
    edited October 2019

    Look. I didn't say that I mightn't be interested. I did state, however, what I would need to even begin to be interested -- and I doubt very much that you will find an expert who was worth anything who would be willing to endure the project for anything less.

    Fair enough. I'm consulting a local Civil/Hydraulics PE, but it's hard to find someone who is local and would free from conflict of interest concerns since the water company has many local firms working on their projects or hoping to do so in the future. My email is the same as my user ID @ gmail.com (to keep the spam bots at bay). Send me an email and we can set a time to chat.

    Thanks
  • hot_rodhot_rod Posts: 12,564Member
    equipment fails all the time I suspect the utility has a policy in place for damage caused by a large failure like that
    Some utilities have recorders to monitor pressures in their systems

    Did you approach the water master or city manager in writing for their position?

    Without some pressure data of your own it may be easier to meet with the utility or city first Most times they work with their customers if you approach politely 😉
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 12,115Member
    What @hot_rod says is by far your best approach.

    Any adversarial proceeding would have to have a lot of forensic analysis, and the failed bits and pieces would have to be available for study, as well as comprehensive and verifiable records. Truly it is not an avenue you really want to go down.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • aylerclaylercl Posts: 11Member
    aylercl said:

    Look. I didn't say that I mightn't be interested. I did state, however, what I would need to even begin to be interested -- and I doubt very much that you will find an expert who was worth anything who would be willing to endure the project for anything less.

    Fair enough. I'm consulting a local Civil/Hydraulics PE, but it's hard to find someone who is local and would free from conflict of interest concerns since the water company has many local firms working on their projects or hoping to do so in the future. My email is the same as my user ID @ gmail.com (to keep the spam bots at bay). Send me an email and we can set a time to chat.

    Thanks
    hot_rod said:

    equipment fails all the time I suspect the utility has a policy in place for damage caused by a large failure like that

    Some utilities have recorders to monitor pressures in their systems



    Did you approach the water master or city manager in writing for their position?



    Without some pressure data of your own it may be easier to meet with the utility or city first Most times they work with their customers if you approach politely 😉


    Yeah. That was my first approach. I contacted them, they directed me to file a claim. I met with their insurance company, who highered a "water expert" (in quotes as I don't know what his qualifications were and that was what I was told) to evaluate the claim .. it took the water expert nearly 3 weeks to conclude their report (2 weeks longer than he said it would) and the second the insurance company got the report they went mute .. would not return any communication for a week. Not even "give us a few more days" ... nothing. When I pushed I got a quick rejection, with no explanation.

    I met with my water board Rep they pushed the water co mgr a bit and he sent me a letter that blamed gravity pressure from their tanks and a pressure reducing system failure (on a component they didn't repair or replace .. ) and said my PRV should have handled the resulting pressure .. so not their problem.

    I spoke to the water board asked them to reconsider, since the data I had ( and I have shared most of over the course of these posts) completely disagreed/discredited their letter, using their own published data.. I have have a licensed hydraulic review and he said I was accurate, and he even added a few more points .. The board just declined again to honor the claim .. with no further explanation. So I tired polite, their process .. twice.

    At this stage it's down to media and/or legal .. they don't want to admit any wrongdoing as this hit several hundred homes that are quite expensive.. if they service me it opens the door on a lot more.. and justifiably so.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 12,115Member
    Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord God.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • pecmsgpecmsg Posts: 1,115Member
    Good Luck fighting City Hall!

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