How to Fix Low Water Pressure in Your Home

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A woman's hand under an open faucet with low water pressure

Getting a good stream of hot or cold water when we turn on a faucet is something we take for granted. That is, until you turn on a tap, and what comes out is a trickle. When that happens, you may be able to fix low water pressure in your home on your own. Below are some common causes of poor water flow and easy fixes.

Check the Neighborhood

Before investigating the cause of low water pressure in your home, ask your neighbors if they’re experiencing the same issue. If they are, there might be a problem with the city’s main water supply. In that case, contact your municipal water service or local utility company to inspect the pipes outside of your property line. The good news is that the responsibility and cost of fixing these pipes lies with the city or utility company.

Fixing Occasional Low Water Pressure

If you’re experiencing occasional low water pressure in your home, it may be due to using too much water at once, which can overwhelm the water main that provides a limited amount of water to your home. You can easily fix this issue by staggering your water needs. For example, if you need to water the lawn in the morning, hold off on doing laundry until later in the day. If the dishwasher is filling up, wait until the wash cycle starts before running a bath. By doing this, you can help keep your water pressure stable, especially in an older home.

Only One Faucet Has Low Pressure

Hard water typically has minerals like calcium and magnesium that can go unnoticed but cause issues with faucets and showerheads. Signs of mineral buildup include green crusty buildup around faucet taps and white or green scale on showerhead holes. If left untreated, this mineral buildup can lead to low water pressure. However, it is a straightforward fix.

Slow faucets 

To fix slow faucets, use a wrench to remove the aerator at the end of the spigot. Wrap a towel around the tap first to protect the fixture’s finish. Once you’ve got the end off, separate the parts and rinse them. Use a toothbrush to loosen any mineral buildup or clogs you find. Give the faucet a try before you reassemble it. If the water’s flowing well, you know the issue is the aerator or screen. Put it back together, and you’re done.

Slow showerheads

To fix a slow shower head, first scrub the holes with an old toothbrush and hot soapy water. Turn the water back on and test the flow. If it’s still slow, use a wrench to remove it and clean your showerhead to remove buildup. Reattach the showerhead and test the flow again.

Hot Water Has Low Pressure, Cold is Fine

To fix low water pressure in your home when only hot water is affected, try draining sediment from your water heater. Follow these steps:

  1. Turn off the gas or electricity to your water heater.
  2. Turn off the cold water valve and wait one hour for the water to cool.
  3. Attach a hose to the spigot at the bottom of your water heater and run the other end of the hose outside.
  4. Turn on a hot water faucet on the lowest floor of your home to prevent a vacuum.
  5. Open the water heater’s spigot and let it drain for 5-10 minutes. Then turn on the cold water supply to flush the tank.
  6. Wait until the water coming out of your water heater is clear, then shut off the cold water supply valve.
  7. Turn off the drainage spigot, disconnect the hose, and shut off the faucet you’ve had running.
  8. Turn the water supply to your water heater back on and let it refill, then restore the gas or electricity to it.
  9. Wait about a half-hour, then test the hot water at a sink faucet. If the pressure is back to normal, you have solved the problem.

Steps to Fix Constant Low Water Pressure

If you have low water pressure throughout your home consistently, you need to do some investigating. Start by ensuring that nothing is obstructing your home’s water supply, then check for leaks that may allow water to escape.

Step 1: Open the main valve fully.

To find the main shut-off valve, go to the lowest floor of your home. You’ll usually find it on or near the exterior wall that your water meter is on.

  • If your main water valve has a lever, move it until it’s in line with the pipe.
  • If your main water valve has a handle, turn it clockwise until it won’t turn further. Don’t force the handle, or you may break the stem valve. 

Step 2: Find and fix hidden leaks.

  • Turn off all water-using appliances and faucets.
  • Check your water meter. If it’s moving, you likely have a leak.
  • Take a reading and write it down. Go an hour without using any water, then take another reading. If the numbers changed, you’ve got a sneaky leak somewhere.
  • Look for damp spots on your basement floor and walls.
  • Make sure you’ve shut off all outdoor faucets.
  • If you have a lawn irrigation system, walk through your yard, looking for soggy areas which may indicate burst lines from frozen pipes.
  • Repair any broken pipes or hoses you discover.

Step 3: Have the PRV replaced (municipal water system).

If the previous steps do not fix the low water pressure in your home, it’s possible that you have a faulty pressure regulator, which is also known as a pressure-reducing valve or PRV. The PRV helps regulate the municipal water supply pressure to protect your plumbing and appliances from damage. If you notice low water pressure or hammering pipes, it could be a sign of a failing PRV.

To maintain your home’s water supply within the recommended range of 40-80 pounds per square inch (PSI), the PRV must be calibrated properly. Low PSI can lead to low water pressure, while high PSI can damage your plumbing system and appliances. It’s best to hire a professional plumber to calibrate the PRV for you and ensure that it’s working correctly.

Step 4: Check the well pump (well water supply).

  • Check the power supply to the pump. Look for any interruptions or tripped circuits in the circuit breaker or blown fuses in the fuse box. Also, check the cut-off switch and make sure it’s on.
  • Inspect the pressure switch. Ensure that it’s correctly set, and the wires are making full contact with the switch relays. If you find any corrosion or damage, call a professional.
  • Examine the pump itself. Check for any signs of damage and make sure the impeller isn’t clogged with debris.
  • If the above steps don’t work or you’re unsure about diagnosing or fixing the pump, contact a professional well pump technician.
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Other Common Causes of Low Water Pressure

Clogged pipes or corrosion can also cause low water pressure in the home. If you suspect that these are the causes of your low water pressure, it’s best to contact a plumber for help. Corroded or damaged pipes may need to be replaced, and clogs may require professional equipment to remove. A plumber can also inspect your system to let you know which pipes should be upgraded to avoid future problems.

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