Simple Ways to Evaluate Your Low Water Pressure
One of the pillars of modern society is the reliable access to clean, safe and abundant water. It’s easy to underestimate the value of current plumbing systems, that is until your modern plumbing system fails to provide accessible water. Low water pressure is one of the most frustrating problems that can occur in your home’s plumbing system.
Fortunately, this guide is offering free advice about how to troubleshoot your low water pressure. This guide will teach you how to diagnose the cause of your low water pressure, how to fix common problems and how to decide when it’s time to call a professional.
Why Is Water Pressure Low?
The causes of low water pressure can include:
- Loss of pressure due to demand - Your home’s plumbing system is only designed to tolerate a certain amount of demand. Outdoor hose bibbs, washing machines, dishwashers, and showers are some of the biggest demands that are placed on your plumbing system. If more than one of these are operating at one time it can result in a loss of pressure.
- Closed or broken valves - There are several places in your home’s plumbing system where valves are installed to control flow to various portions of the piping. Typically, valves are located at sinks, hot water tanks, showers, toilets and at the point of service or the main supply line to the house.
- Malfunctioning fixtures - Over time sink and shower fixtures can become clogged with debris or scale. This can affect the internal working of the valves and clog the aerator screens or showerheads. This leads to a loss of pressure.
- Improperly adjusted or faulty pressure regulator - Your home’s water pressure is adjusted by a regulator at the point of connection with the water main. This regulator is intended to adjust the water pressure to keep the appropriate pressure for your home’s plumbing system. When they fail, they allow pressure to swing high or low.
- Clogged supply pipes - As hard as it is to believe, supply pipes can become clogged with debris, limescale, mineral build-up and corrosion. Depending on the source of your water supply you may have hard water that leads to mineral build-up. Old pipes, especially iron and galvanized pipes can corrode over time to the point that they can no longer carry sufficient volume to properly supply water.
These problems are listed in order of seriousness. A homeowner can begin with number 1 and work through the list. The first 3 can generally be addressed by a homeowner. The final 2 should be addressed by a plumber. However, using this list as a guide will give you a better understanding of your home’s plumbing system and will allow you to provide valuable information to your plumber.
Fixing Low Water Pressure
Depending on what you have determined to be the cause of your low water pressure, you can now make a decision of what to do about it.
- Loss of pressure due to demand - If you determined that your pressure loss is due to demand then no real problem exists. Simply try to time your water usage in a way that doesn’t inconvenience you and your family.
- Closed or broken valves - Verify all your valves are open, especially at the water main and the main cutoff to the house. Valves can typically be either ball valves or gate valves. Gate valves are more prone to breaking so as you check the valves make sure you feel consistent pressure as they move. If you find a broken valve it is best to call a plumber for replacement.
- Malfunctioning fixtures - Check the aerator screens of the fixtures first for rust or mineral build-up. These can easily be cleaned or replaced. If no blockage is found there may be a problem in the fixture itself. Many fixtures have replaceable parts that can be found at hardware stores. However, sometimes complete replacement is the most expedient option.
- Improperly adjusted or faulty pressure regulator - Regulators can be adjusted up by the simple turning of a screw. If you’re lucky, this will fix the low water pressure. However, care should be taken not to adjust the regulator too high as this could result in damage to fixtures and possible flooding of your house. If you determine the regulator is faulty then it will need to be replaced.
- Clogged supply pipes - If you can rule out all the other potential causes of low water pressure and you have iron or galvanized pipes in your plumbing system, then you could possibly have clogged or corroded pipes. Small clogs can sometimes be snaked or flushed out. However, for bigger clogs, direct replacement may be the best option. Galvanized pipes are no longer permissible by building codes and most are nearing the end of their useful life and should be replaced.
How to Prevent this Issue Altogether
Oftentimes, simple planning can prevent low water pressure. Coordinating washing, bathing and watering schedules can prevent pressure loss. Routine maintenance and plumbing repair basics are also important to prevent the causes of low water pressure. It is good practice to open and close all valves and flush hot water heaters every six months.
This ensures that mineral scale is not building up on the valves or in the tank that can break off and end up in fixtures. If you live in a region with hard water it may be advantageous to install a water softener to prevent mineral buildup.
About Polestar Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning
Polestar Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning has been offering plumbing services in Merriam since 1984. They offer a full line of services from residential to commercial. If you need help addressing any of the issues relating to low water pressure or have a plumbing emergency, they are available 24-hours a day.