Low water pressure in your home is a major annoyance. You wait forever for your washing machine and bathtub to fill up. You have to run laps in the shower just to get wet and washing the car or watering the lawn is out of the question. If you have any of the above symptoms, your home may be suffering from low water pressure. All is not lost, however, as all of the reasons for low water pressure can be remedied.
Know The Cause
The first step in restoring your water pressure is to determine exactly why you have the problem, and to what extent you have the problem. For example, you may experience low water pressure everywhere in your home, or just in one part like a particular bathroom. It is possible to have only one fixture affected, or maybe your whole neighborhood is affected.
If only one fixture or faucet is experiencing low pressure the problem is usually an easy fix. If there is an aerator on the faucet outlet you may have some grit, sand, or small gravel stuck inside that is slowing the water flow. You can easily unscrew the aerator and remove the foreign matter. This will often solve the problem.
Another cause of low flow could be the washers, seals or cartridges are broke or wore out. Replacing these can often restore water pressure.
If your problem is only with a shower head, check to be sure it isn’t a water saving model. They usually have low flow by design and can be mistaken for low water pressure. Sometimes these shower heads will have a removable flow restrictor that once removed, will allow more water to flow through faster. Of course replacing the faucet with a non-water-saving model would also work.
If you have low water pressure in part of your house the most likely cause is faulty pipes. A leak in the water supply lines running to the affected part of your home could be the source of the problem. If you live in a home over 20 years old you may have galvanized pipes instead of copper or PEX. Galvanized pipes are notorious for corroding on the inside causing the diameter to decrease over time. The more corrosion builds-up the smaller the diameter of the pipe, and the lower the water flow. This corrosion will only get worse and worse and can not be stopped. The only way to restore water pressure is to replace all of your old galvanized pipe with modern materials like copper or PEX pipe.
If your whole home is suffering from low water pressure, you could have one or more of several problems. Your water pressure will naturally fluctuate during the day but should average 50 psi to 75 psi, and peak at no more than 75 psi. A great way to determine your home’s water pressure is with a low cost water pressure gauge like the one shown below. Inexpensive models can be purchased at your local home or hardware store.
Simply screw the gauge into one of your outside hose bibbs, preferably the one farthest from where the water service enters your home, and turn the faucet on as high as it will go. Since everyone’s water pressure spikes overnight when the demand is the lowest, it’s best to leave it at least 24 hours before reading the pressure. If you read less that 50 psi, your pressure is too low.
Most homes and buildings will have a Pressure Reducing Valve, or PRV, attached to the water line just after it enters the building. It is designed to take the water pressure from the high pressure in the water mains down to 50-75 psi. If this device is faulty it will allow the water pressure to be way too high, or way too low, depending on which part of it failed. If your PRV has failed, it can simply be rebuilt or replaced depending on the model.
A Backflow Prevention Device, or RPZ, if present and faulty could also cause low water pressure. Sometimes these devices can be rebuilt, if not, it would require being replaced. Likewise a faulty or clogged water filter, water softener, or other accessory could also be the culprit.
Make sure any shut-off valve is fully open. It’s also worth checking the valve at the water meter to ensure it is fully open.
Lastly, you may have old galvanized water pipes that need to be replaced as discussed above.
There are situations where entire neighborhoods have low water pressure. If this is the case with you, your first move is to complain to your water company. Secondly, we can install a booster pump to bring your pressure up into the normal range.
Having the proper water pressure in your home or business is essential to the longevity of your plumbing system, as well as your day to day comfort. If you have water pressure trouble please give us a call!