One of the most common problems that every household encounters are low water pressure. It is both irritating and inconvenient, but you can do troubleshooting on it on your own. But to be successful in fixing it, you need to know first why and what causes it.
How do you fix low water pressure? There are four methods on how to troubleshoot low water pressure. First is to check the water pressure, then check the PRV and Water Shutoff valves. The third method is to locate a water leak, and the last is troubleshooting hot water low pressure.
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In this article, I will list different steps to follow for every method we said about troubleshooting a low water pressure. We will also list possible areas to consider why your water pressure is low.
Different Methods To Troubleshoot A Low Water Pressure
Below are the different methods you can try at home for low water pressure.
Check The Water Pressure
- First, you should check all locations in your home or office for low water pressure issues. Check all the locations with faucets like in the kitchen, bathroom, outdoor faucets, and in the basements. Because these are the most common areas wherein low water pressure occurs.
- Run water in all faucets and showers for you to identify how many problem cases are there.
- Let both cold and hot water run through these faucets. If you determine that the water pressure is low only in hot water, then most likely, the problem is with your water heater.
- If you have problems with one or two locations, the cause may be a clogged faucet or aerator. With this, you need to remove the end of the faucet.
- Then examine the aerator or check for possible debris or buildup.
- If the aerator needs cleaning, you need to soak it in a water-vinegar solution. But it doesn’t work, a replacement is necessary. There are different rates of water flow available so, try to buy one with a higher flow rate.
- Before replacing the aerator, turn the water on first. But if the water flow is still not restored to normal, its source may not be a specific faucet but an overall issue.
Check The Water Shut Off Valves And PRV
- The Pressure Reducing Valve or PRV is a bell-shaped like that is typically found on the line where it enters the office or home. Adjusting it will help you determine if it affects the overall water pressure. Use a screw on the valve, to increase the pressure, turn it clockwise. Turning it in a clockwise position will decrease the pressure.
- But if the valves are broken, a replacement is needed, which you can purchase in a plumbing store or hardware. Also, you can check the shut-off valve at the water meter. Most homes and buildings have this that is near the PRV valve. Or can be found in a separate box that’s near the water meter.
- Test the pressure with multiple faucets, but if the problem still exists, you might have a water leak. And if you can’t do it or are unsure of doing it, call a plumber to fix it.
Locate For A Water Leak
- One of the main causes of low water pressure is leakage, so better check the toilet in each bathroom. Do it by removing the lid from the toilet tank.
- Then put a few drops of food coloring, or you can try dyeing. Remember not to flush the toilet for at least one hour.
- If the color leaked into the bowl, then your toilet leaks. Fix it by replacing the toilet flapper or filling mechanism.
- You can also check the service meter for you to determine if there’s a leak in the service line. If the leak indicator is turning, it’s an indication that there’s a leakage. Don’t run any water for 2 hours and immediately call for a plumber.
Troubleshooting A Hot Water Low Pressure
- Check or inspect the water heater if the low water pressure only affects the hot water. Verify it by opening the shut-off valve. There are different shut-off valves for every water heater for emergency uses.
- Remember that if the valve is slightly shut, it can affect the water pressure.
- Run water through the faucets. If the hot water low pressure isn’t resolved yet, it could be the water lines in the water heater.
- When not all you’ve done resolve the issue, then it’s time to call a plumber. Because the only plumber can resolve the blockages issue within the lines, plus working with a water heater is dangerous, better call for professional’s help immediately.
Lists Of Common Causes Of Low Water Pressure
There are different common causes of low water pressure in one household. It’s frustrating if your sink or bathtub takes forever to fill, or your washing machine may take longer to run a cycle. These are just some of the effects of low water pressure. For you to understand why it happens, here are some of the common causes:
1. Water Meter Is Not Fully Open
Most homes have two major shutoff valves that control the water to the home. The water meter valve is the first that can be found right next to the water meter on the main city supply pipe. Technically, you won’t use this normally because this valve belongs to the water company, which means, its use only by the water company personnel.
If you have low water pressure after some plumbing is done, the valve might not be fully open. It can also happen when you have a recent repair in the house. You might locate it at home’ outside wall in an underground box between the house and a street. If the valve meter is fully open, it is parallel with the water pipe.
But if the handle is an angle to the pipe, it’s not fully open. You can open or adjust the valve by using a special wrench.
2. The Pressure Regulator Is Failing
One common issue of low water pressure is a failing pressure regulator. It’s a control valve that reduces the input pressure in your plumbing system without damaging your pipes. But remember that not all households have this, so if you do, better check it if you’re suffering from low water pressure. And if the pressure regulator fails, it can affect all the fixtures in your home that can happen suddenly.
You can get an actual reading of water pressure by attaching the water gauge to the hose outside closest to the pressure regulator. Normal or recommended water pressure is at 52 to 75 pounds per square inch. So, if the pressure test results are very low, there’s a failed pressure regulator.
3. Old Steel Water Pipes
It may be a shallow reason to some, but this one may be the cause of low water pressure in your household. Because when old galvanized steel water pipes are corroded, the water flow is affected.
The corrosion happens inside, meaning you won’t see it, but eventually, you’ll feel the effects because it closes the pipe. Sometimes the problem develops over the decades, so the reduction of water flow is gradual.
When things get worse, the only solution to this is repiping the system with new plastic water supply or copper. But if you want a re-piping in terms of cost and the ease of installation, try using the PEX tubing instead of copper pipe.
4. The Main House Shutoff Valve Is Close
It is usually located inside the house near the main city supply pipe that enters the home through the foundation wall. But in warm climates, you’ll find the main shutoff outdoors. There are two different handles for this valve- the wheel like and the lever.
The gate valve is usually a wheel-like handle, and the ball valve is the lever handle. To open the gate valve, make sure that it’s in a counterclockwise direction, while the ball valve should be parallel to the pipe direction.
This valve is left partially open, especially if there’s some kind of repair to the water meter valve system. Whenever there’s a mysteriously low water pressure that happens after some repair, take a look at the shutoff valve.
5. Neighborhood Wide Problem
If you check all of the first four but still have low water pressure, it’s time to check for the neighborhood. You can ask your neighbors if they are also experiencing the same issue, and if they are, call your municipal’s office.
Talk to them about improving the neighborhood’s water pressure or investing in a water pressure booster. With this, it can help take the water coming in, and using an electric pump increases the water pressure at your home.
If you choose this solution, hire a plumber to install the pump to ensure that it’s properly installed.
Water Pressure VS. Water Flow
Water flow is the amount of water coming out of the faucet, a hose, or other pipe fixtures in a certain amount of time. While water pressure is the amount of force that water makes to move from one place to another. Or simply, the amount of force the water exerts coming out the pipe.
The gravitational pull causes it. To help you understand it further, we listed some factors that will help you distinguish the two.
Check out these factors below:
- Measurement – These two have separate units of measurements. Water flow is being measured in liters per second. Because it is a measure of how much liquid is out while the water pressure is measured in kilopascals (kPa). It measures how much stress or force is being put into the water as it moves through the other containers.
- Adjustment – these two can be adjusted in two different ways too. The water flow can be adjusted through the opening to the pipe, like with the showerhead. In water pressure, it is adjusted by altering the pipe’s texture or diameter by using a different pump or regulator setting. You can also adjust it by changing the amount of elevated water coming out through the line.
- Friction – in this factor, these two are both related. Because as the water moves, the friction slows down to a certain degree. But it still depends on the diameter and texture of the pipe. So the smoother the pipe is, the less friction is present, and the water can move faster. Meaning, when there’s good water pressure, the friction in smaller pipes is most likely to overcome the high water flow.
- Pipe Size – they say that the larger the pip, the higher the water flow is. But if the water pressure level is too low, then even the larger pipes can’t have good water flow because they won’t have enough pressure to overcome the friction’s force.
- Issues – It is understandable if you can’t figure or confuse what problem you have, whether with water flow or water pressure. If the water flow slows down during the peak water usage hours, meaning the pressure can’t handle the water moving through the lines. But if the water flow runs only through one line, then the issue is a blockage resulting in poor water flow to the pipe.
What Is The Normal Water Pressure In A House?
Having low water pressure in the house is hard to determine because you have to check all the possible areas. But if you have too much water pressure, it’s another problem too because it can damage your appliances and pipes.
That’s why understanding more about the normal pressure ranges is important for you to solve the issues. The question is, is there a set normal pressure range in your house?
The normal pressure ranges in a residential application should be between 40 psi and 80 psi. But there are no specific rules on how much pressure is best for your household because it has different needs.
Anything below 40 psi is considered one of the main causes of water pressure’s poor performance. At the same time, anything that’s higher than 80 psi could damage your blown sprinkler heads.
In general, water pressure can be solved if you know what things to check for possible causes. We also realized that water pressure is one serious problem that some people are experiencing. That there are differences between the water pressure and water flow in terms of different factors. Although low water pressure is a bad sign, having too much water pressure isn’t also good because it can damage it.