Ask The Expert

Hello Sir,

When I turn the water on at a faucet (hot or cold — no matter what room) in my house, the pressure is high as the water rushes out of the faucet. This lasts for about two seconds, and then the water flows much slower after that. The pressure at the valve outside from the street reads with my gauge as 50 lbs. My friendly plumber’s gauge reads 60 lbs. He has heard of this happening due to the hot water tank causing the problem. We’ve lived in this house since 1972. We never had this problem before. We did install a new hot water tank in 2010. Since then at some time after its installation, I can’t say when, this high pressure build up at the faucets began. Sir, will I receive an email from you about my problem? I just know that I will miss reading the signal the day you respond to my question.

I thank you in advance for responding to my problem. I am now scared to leave the house for more than a day or two without turning off the water to my house, thinking that the pressure will build up enough to burst a line somewhere in the house. Thank You,

Al P.

Hi Al,

It sounds like you have a PRV that is what we call “floating.” This is when the pressure fluctuates up and down.

The first thing would be to check the PRV. Get a pressure gauge from the hardware store and put it on a water bib outside. If it is floating, you might be able to catch it. You’ll want to monitor the gauge to see if the pressure is building. Check it, then come back and check it again in about an hour to see if the pressure moves up. If you’re having pressure spikes, then it’s a bad PRV that needs to be replaced. 99% of the time, that’s the problem.

Hi Robert,

This may be an old wives’ tale, but I heard once that someone was having their wooden floors worked on and whatever chemicals and rags they were using self combusted and burned through the floor. Is this possible? I’m working on our floors now and was just wondering. Many Thanks,

Kenny H.

Hello Kenny,

Yes, that is true. It’s called pyro combustion. This is one of the reasons proper cleaning is so important. An important part of any job includes cleaning the workplace and tools.

You have to be very careful when using wood oils, especially linseed oil which is extremely hazardous, when finishing a wooden surface. Other oil and hardwax mixtures including sunflower, soybean and thistle oil can suddenly ignite without spark. When the oil and a cotton rag oxidizes, it can spontaneously combust. You mostly hear about this happening when someone leaves a bucket of wax covered or oil soaked rags inside of a closed closet. The lack of ventilation and fume volume will self-ignite. There are also instances, depending on the quantities and conditions, where it will also combust outside.

Always check the safety and warning labels on any products that you use. When finished for the day, especially with oil based products, immerse oil-soaked materials in water and store in an air-tight container.

Submit questions to: robert@imsconstruction.com.

Robert Lamoureux of IMS Construction, Valencia, CA, has 30 years experience as a Commercial, General, Electrical and Plumbing contractor. The opinions expressed in “Ask the Expert” are not to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after a thorough visual inspection has been made.

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