You often hear people complain about having weak water pressure, but a Woodland Hills woman has the exact opposite problem.
"When I take a shower, it’s like being sand blasted," Suzie Dotan said.
But it’s not just an issue of discomfort.
Over the past three years, Dotan says she’s spent thousands of dollars installing, then replacing, water pressure regulators that can’t handle the water flowing through her pipes.
"My plumber put a plastic bag there," she told the I-Team, pointing to her newest regulator on the side of the house. "If it starts filling up with water, that’s a sign it’s going to fail."
Dotan also showed the I-Team receipts from repairs she’s had to make on pipes that sprung leaks because of the extreme water pressure.
"I can’t tell you the epic failures I’ve had out there with leaks," she complained. She says her sprinkler system once "exploded," and her swimming pool has leaked hundreds of gallons of water into the canyon.
The trouble has led to nasty surprises in her water bills as well.
In December 2013, she paid the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power $185.68 for water usage. In December 2014, she paid $911.49.
She attributes the sharp increase to undetected leaks that kept water flowing to her property, long after she turned off her faucets and sprinklers.
"Emotionally, I hear water and I become crazy," she said.
Dotan’s requests to have the LADWP stem the flow have been unsuccessful.
The I-Team reached out to the LADWP, which says the powerful pressure is a physical necessity to deliver water to hillside dwellers.
The ideal pressure for a home like Dotan’s is "about 55 pounds inside the home, and about 80 pounds outside for irrigation," said the utility’s Director of Water Distribution Joe Castruita.
The incoming water pressure, however, "is working in between 184 and 217 pound operating range, which is normal for that area," Castruita continued.
The solution, he said, is to install the proper tools to handle the flow.
"First and foremost is to have a quality regulator in place (and to) have a qualified plumber make sure it’s installed properly," Castruita advised. "A homeowner can (also) put pressure gauges on each side of that regulator to make (visible) the pressure being delivered and the pressure being used in the house."
Asked if the cost of these additions fall entirely on the consumer, Castruita confirmed, "That’s right."
Castruita says the LADWP has received few, if any, complaints from other homeowners in the area, and suggests Dotan may not have the right equipment installed.
Dotan disagrees, saying she’s heard neighbors complain of similar issues. She’s hoping the utility will step in to regulate the water flow so it no longer causes damage to her property.
"They are killing me, they are financially killing me," she said. "They are making me water psychotic."
Tips for staying within your water budget:
- Check for leaks – toilets, swimming pools and water softeners are prime trouble spots
- Purchase water efficient appliances – toilets are the top source of indoor water use, a high-efficiency model could earn you a rebate and save you money on bills
- Check sprinkler timer – especially after an outage, timers will reset to factory defaults, which may put out more water than you want
- Check irrigation system monthly – look for broken sprinkler heads, leaky valves, muddy spots
- Check pressure regulator – recommended water pressure for indoor plumbing is between 40-60 PSI