What Is Going On If I Have Low Water Pressure?
Low water pressure is annoying. But is it a problem? Here’s what the plumbing pros say.
Many homeowners deal with the odd annoyance or “quirk.” A leaky faucet, a creaky stair, or squeaky door hinge are all common issues that eventually fade into the background — after a while, you hardly notice them. But some home maintenance problems need to be addressed before they get worse. Low water pressure is one of them. If you have low water pressure at home, you shouldn’t have to suffer through slow showers or dribbly kitchen sinks. In this article, we’ll discuss the most common causes of low water pressure, straight from the plumbing pros who have seen it all.
What Is Water Pressure And Why Is It Important?
Water pressure is the force and strength at which water flows through pipes and out of a faucet or tap. This pressure is created by water’s own weight; when water flows downward (hello, gravity!), pressure is created. The more weight above a water source, the harder or heavier water pressure will be.
So why is water pressure important? And why is low water pressure a problem? Adequate water pressure provides a pleasant experience in some instances. For example, you’re able to rinse shampoo out of your hair and enjoy a warm, steady flow in the shower thanks to strong water pressure. It’s also necessary for cleaning tasks. Your dishwasher relies on high water pressure to blast away food residue. The spray attachment on your sink needs adequate pressure to hose away cleaning agents and crumbs or sauce splatters. Even simple tasks, like washing your hands, become frustrating and slow if you have low water pressure.
What’s The Ideal Water Pressure For Home Use?
Water pressure is measured in pounds per square inch, or psi. The ideal water pressure for home use is around 50 psi (but of course, personal preference comes into play here). You can feel low water pressure with use, but if you want an accurate measure, use a water pressure gauge — these can be purchased at most hardware stores and home improvement stores. If your water pressure is too low, you will not have adequate cleaning and bathing power. But too high water pressure is a problem too; it can cause strain on your plumbing, and could eventually even result in a burst pipe.
Common Causes Of Low Water Pressure
You’ve determined that you have low water pressure. But why? You can’t fix the problem until you know why it’s occurring. Here are the most common causes of weak water pressure.
- Your main valve isn’t completely on. Your home has a main entry point for water, whether the water is sourced from a municipal reservoir or a well. If you notice low water pressure in all of your taps and faucets, check the main source; it could be partially turned off.
- Your water meter valve isn’t completely on. You typically won’t use the water meter. But if you’ve recently had work done or monitored by your water company, it’s possible that the valve was turned off and not turned on all the way. If your main water valve is working, call your water company and ask them to check the water meter valve.
- You have a broken water pressure regulator. A regulator stabilizes the water pressure in your home and keeps it within a set range. If the regulator is broken, your settings could be compromised, resulting in too-high or too-low water pressure.
- Your pipes are clogged. We’re talking about the plumbing deep within the bones of your home and the pipes that run underground, outside. If these are clogged with debris or obstructed by tree roots, they could cause low pressure indoors.
- Your pipes are corroded. Corroded pipes cause more than just low water pressure — they may also result in contaminated water, laden with rust. Call your local plumber to diagnose and troubleshoot the issue.
- Your pipes are leaking. What causes leaky pipes? Age, natural wear and tear, and expansion and contraction due to freezing and thawing. Leaky pipes should be repaired as soon as possible to avoid further damage to your plumbing or home infrastructure.
- Your pipelines are shared with neighbors. If you only have low water pressure occasionally, it could be because you’re attempting to use taps or appliances (like a dishwasher or washing machine) at the same time as your neighbors. If this becomes unbearable, you may choose to work with a reputable plumbing company to upgrade your system by adding a new line to your house.
- Your fixtures are old. Believe it or not, an old fixture such as a sink faucet can cause low water pressure. This could be a result of corrosion or clogging in the faucet’s system. Luckily, that’s a simple upgrade that can also bring a new look to your kitchen or bathroom.
There’s one more potential cause of low water pressure: You’re simply using too many water sources at once. If you notice that water pressure is low only when you run the dishwasher, washing machine, and shower all at once, the fix is simple. A change in routine could be all it takes to remedy your problem. But if the problem persists, you should consult a local plumber ASAP to pinpoint the problem, and repair it before major damage is done to your plumbing system.