5 Common Causes of Low Water Pressure
Home water pressure problems can appear in different ways, all of which can be frustrating. The faucet may take a long time to fill the sink or bathtub, or the shower head may not give you the powerful spray you want. The dishwasher or washing machine may take longer to run for one cycle.
When only one fixture has low water pressure, it’s likely that the problem can be remedied if you just focus on fixing that one fixture or the pipes serving it. But widespread water pressure issues affecting the whole house indicate different problems. If your home water pressure seems low, then the first thing to do is to narrow down the cause.
1 . Is the water meter valve fully opened?
In many houses, there are two main shut-off valves to control the house’s water supply. The first is the water meter valve, located next to the water meter on the main city water supply pipe that serves your house. Normally, you would not use this valve, because technically it belongs to the water company and is usually only used by water company personnel. However, if the water pressure in the entire house is low, especially after some work on the piping system, the valve may not be fully opened.
If you have recently performed repairs and now notice a drop in water pressure throughout the house, check the metering valve. It may be located on the exterior wall of a house (in warm climates), in an underground box between the house and the street, or in an indoor utility area, such as a basement or an attached garage.
When the valve handle (maybe just a metal tab turned with a special wrench) is parallel to the water pipe, the valve is fully opened. If the handle is at an angle to the pipe, it will not open fully.
2 . Is the Main House Shutoff Valve Open?
The other main shutoff valve is the home’s shutoff, usually located inside the house, near where the main city supply pipe enters the home through the foundation wall. In warm climates, the main shutoff may be outdoors. Make sure this valve is fully open. If this is a gate valve, indicated by a wheel-like handle, make sure the handle is turned fully in the counterclockwise direction. If it is a ball valve, indicated by a lever handle, the handle must be parallel to the pipe direction to be fully open.
As the water meter valve, the main shut-off valve is sometimes partially closed after some maintenance on the system. If your water pressure has mysteriously dropped after the last repair, it is likely that the valve did not fully open after the repair was completed.
3 . Is the Pressure Regulator Failing?
Another common cause of domestic water pressure problems is a malfunction of the pressure regulator or pressure reducing valve. The pressure regulator is a control valve that reduces the input pressure in the pipeline system to a safe level without damaging your pipeline. Not all houses have them, but for those houses, a failure of the pressure regulator can cause a serious increase in water pressure. It may also have the opposite effect: a sudden drop in water pressure.
When the pressure regulator fails, you will notice the effect on all of the fixtures in the home, and it will happen rather suddenly. Although a pressure regulator can sometimes be replaced by yourself with the same brand and size, in most cases is it better to call a professional to take care of it. Replacing it requires shutting off the water to the home at the water meter shutoff valve.
To get an accurate reading of your water pressure, you can test the pressure by attaching a water pressure gauge to the outdoor hose spigot closest to the water main or pressure regulator. Recommended water pressure is 52 to 75 pounds per square inch. If your pressure tests very low, this may indicate a failed pressure regulator.
4 . Do you have old steel pipes?
When the old galvanized steel pipe is corroded to the extent that the water flow is severely restricted, the most serious cause of low water pressure will appear. These pipes will corrode internally so you usually don’t see corrosion. But over time, the accumulation of corrosion and scale will gradually close the pipes.
The only solution to corroded pipes is to re-pipe the system with new copper or plastic water supply pipes. In terms of cost and ease of installation, the best option for re-laying pipes today is usually to use PEX pipes (PEX pipe is a kind of plastic pipe) instead of copper pipes.
5 . Could It Be an Unnoticed Pipeline Leak?
If your basement or foundation is flooded you already know your pipes are leaking. However, it doesn’t take a leak of that size to mess with your water pressure. The leak is misdirecting your water supply so that even if everything else is working properly, you’re not getting the full flow.
If you can access your pipes, go and take a look around and see if you find any wet spots or pooling water. Figure out which pipe is leaking and try a quick fix.
First, turn off your water supply and dry the outside of the leaky pipe as much as you can. Then, wrap a rubber patch around the spot that is cracked or corroded and use electrical tape and a pipe repair clamp to attach the rubber patch to the pipe.
This isn’t going to solve your problem for good, but it might prevent further damage for a few days. Even with a quick fix in place, call a plumber as soon as possible. Leaky pipes can damage your foundations but they can also contaminate your drinking water.
Truthfully, if you’re noticing a change in your water pressure as a result of leaky pipes, you’re probably dealing with more than one leak. It’s also possible that the leak is one of several things causing low water pressure.
This article introduces five reasons for low water pressure in houses. If you encounter this situation in your life, this article may help you.