As strata plumbing maintenance specialist, we are often asked by strata managers, unit owners and even other plumbers on the best way of managing high water pressure in a Strata Titled Building.
Firstly, What is High Water Pressure and why should we manage it?
In short, High Water Pressure can cause significant damage to all of your plumbing fixtures, fittings and appliances. The Australian Standards and Plumbing Code of Australia mandate that your water pressure must be regulated where it enters a building down to a maximum of 500 kPa and most plumbing appliances and fittings void their warranty when water pressure exceeds this amount.
We have covered this in fairly extensive detail via the blog post below. So, I recommend checking this out if you want to know more about high water pressure from a general sense.
High Water Pressure In Residential Strata Buildings
In a unit complex, there are two common options for limiting water pressure when required.
Common Pressure Regulator Valve
Option 1 – A pressure regulator valve (PRV), often referred to as a Pressure Limiting Valve (PLV) can be installed on the main water line, normally near the incoming Icon Water meter on the property boundary or on common pipework in a basement car park.
By installing the PRV here, you are able to regulate the water pressure to the entire complex with a single valve.
Advantages of a common PRV
- Generally, this is a more cost-effective solution than installing individual valves
- Protects the common assets and infrastructure (such as pipework to the units, garden taps, pool rooms, service bathrooms, gyms, etc)
- Less ongoing maintenance
- Often resolves Water Hammer / Vibration noises between units
Disadvantages of a common PRV
- Requires agreement from the Executive Committee / Strata Manager
- Slightly less control – ie, residents in a top floor apartment will have slightly lower pressure than residents on a ground floor apartment. This is not likely to cause issues.
Individual Pressure Regulator Valve
Option 2 – A PRV could be installed for each apartment. Pending on the location of your water isolation valve/water supply pipework, this could be a quick and easy solution or it could involve opening wall’s / re-tiling/waterproofing.
Advantages of Individual PRV’s
- Easier to organise. Generally does not require Strata approval
- Water pressure can be set at each individual unit
Disadvantages of Individual PRV’s
- The overall cost may be expensive if installing one in every unit
- It May have significant cost if tiled walls need to be opened to allow access to pipework
- Common property infrastructure is not being protected
- May require 2 valves per unit if hot water is supplied by a common hot water heater.
- If a neighbour that lives above or next to you has a burst pipe, water will likely leak into your apartment or the common area, causing water damage and expensive repairs/insurance claims.
It’s my opinion that if a plumbing issue affects all units, the most practical way of approaching it is from a combined Owners Corporation approach as this gives the greatest level of protection and is generally the most cost-effective.
That said, not all Executive Committees make decisions promptly or with a collaborative attitude. If you have found yourself in a complex like this, I would recommend installing an individual unit protection in the interim so that at the very least, your property and infrastructure is protected.