Low water pressure can make home ownership a huge hassle. In addition to having to struggle through everyday tasks, like washing the dishes and showering, homeowners with water pressure problems spend way longer than they should waiting for trickling taps and slow-filling toilets. Here are some pointers that might help you fix such issues.
Household water systems are complex, and any number of components can cause low pressure if they fail. Common problem sources include faulty water heaters, old pipes, leaks, bad valves and broken pressure regulators.
Building-Wide Low Pressure
When the water pressure decreases at all the taps and toilets in your house, it usually has something to do with the supply line. Check with your neighbors to determine whether the issue originated at the local street supply; installing a supplemental, pressure-boosting pump may correct such deficiencies.
If you're experiencing problems, have a licensed plumber investigate your inlet. Supply intakes often include water pressure regulators or reducing valves that limit the normally high-pressure street supply to more acceptable levels for household use; these components might wear out over time. Plumbers can usually replace, repair or simply fine-tune such devices to permit more usable flow rates.
Call a licensed master plumber to adjust the inlet valve. The plumber will open the valve slightly to increase the pressure gradually by making slow, fractional turns instead of cranking it all the way - this is the time they will check for leaks. If the pressure doesn't increase at the faucets when you open the valve, or you suddenly find yourself soaking wet, you could have a supply breach. Watch for signs of dripping water or moisture around joints, valves, building entry points and straight runs of pipe, especially following harsh winter freezes. Upon discovering a leak, shut off the supply to prevent further water damage, and make a repair.
What if none of these solutions do the trick? Your home or the piping that feeds it may be old enough to have accumulated scale on the inside surfaces of vital flow lines. Such buildups reduce the inner diameter of the line, limiting the cross-sectional area through which water can pass. These mineral accretions generally require a thorough pipe cleaning.
Single-Faucet Flow Trouble
The same scale buildups that affect entire supply pipes can also be limited to specific faucets. Fortunately, this is a much simpler fix.
With kitchen faucets, you can usually unscrew the end of the spout by hand in order to remove the small aerator screen inside. This screen is designed to conserve and improve the feel of flowing water by breaking the rushing fluid up into tiny drops. It can, however, become clogged with scaly sediment.
If you discover visible blockages, replace the old screen with a new one of the same size. You can also soak it in a warm water and vinegar mixture or a pro-grade calcium remover. Excessive deposits may have also spread to the other parts of the spout; similar cleaners and soft brush tools can be used to clean these sections as well. Afterward, dry the parts completely and put everything back together to test how well the cleaning worked.
Shower heads and bathroom sinks may exhibit related issues if they become clogged. While the same treatment applied to kitchen sinks can be used with these fixtures, some homeowners simply take the opportunity to install a replacement or upgrade.
Grouped or Related Issues Some people experience low pressure problems at certain times of day or in conjunction with the use of specific supply lines, like hot or cold. Deficiencies that occur during peak hours, such as when everyone in the neighborhood comes home from work and takes a shower, may be unavoidable without the installation of booster pumps. If problems correspond exclusively to certain supplies, it's usually a good clue that fixtures such as water heaters need to be inspected.
Professional Repairs The aforementioned solutions may not work for you, but don't lose hope. There are a number of people you can call for help.
In situations where your entire home or apartment block is having similar problems, you should notify your landlord or the city. Municipal suppliers will often send someone to check on complaints, and they don't charge for repairs. If, however, the city won't fix the problem, or you're the only one struggling, talk to a professional.
Plumbers can perform comprehensive diagnostics to determine the exact nature of your water pressure issues. In many cases, they'll be able to devise workable solutions that minimize your repair costs. You may even find that repairs to pressure problems caused by leaks, broken appliances and similar material defects are covered by your home insurance policy or warranties.
Author Bio: Patricia J. Bonacorda is the President of Spartan Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning, a plumbing and HVAC company that has assisted all types of businesses and residential homes since opening 1964. Spartan Plumbing is a licensed, bonded and insured business that has provided professional plumbing, heating and air conditioning services throughout the DC Region.