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Tips for Low Water Pressure

Shower head with low water pressure

Low water pressure can be nearly as frustrating as no hot water at all! In fact, your water pressure may drop so gradually that you may not even notice. However, sometimes beyond the inconvenience of the reduced water pressure, there are underlying issues that need to be addressed in order to prevent a larger problem that may occur in the future.

The most common cause of low hot water pressure is sediment. Sediment and other debris, such as rust and calcium deposits enter and collect within your plumbing, and eventually reduce your water pressure. However, there are other causes to this annoying problem. Below are our best suggestions of things to check before hiring a professional plumber.

Low Hot Water Pressure

If you find that your cold water pressure is strong, but your hot water is not, the issue could likely be your water heater.

Tip #1

  • Check the shut-off valve to your water heater. The valve should be fully open. It is not uncommon for the valve handle to partially close, especially if it is a ball valve. Something can catch or hit the handle of the valve, causing it to close.

Tip #2

  • If the shut-off valve was already fully open, try draining the tank to remove the sediment from within the water heater tank. A build-up of sediment can impact your hot water pressure. Water heaters need to be drained on a regular basis to prevent a build-up of sediment. But if you can’t remember the last time you performed this routine maintenance, there’s a good chance that this is your problem. 

Tip #3

  • Check the incoming and outgoing water supply to your water heater. Sometimes 1/2″ pipe is used for the plumbing to and from the water heater.  If this is the case, the water pressure leaving the water heater will be reduced. Contact a plumber to increase the pipe size.

Low Water Pressure Throughout the Entire House

Tip #1

  • Check with your neighbors. It’s possible that they are experiencing the same problem. If this is the case, you can install a water pressure booster. The booster will increase the water pressure between the main water line and your faucets.

Tip #2

  • If your neighbors aren’t having water pressure issues, check to see if your house has a water pressure reducing valve installed. The water pressure reducing valve is designed to reduce the water pressure from the municipal water supply before it reaches your house. Water companies set the pressure much higher (sometimes over 150 psi) than necessary for residential homes (maximum 80 psi) in order to deliver adequate pressure to fire hydrants and tall buildings.  A previous owner of your house may have had one installed. If you find you have one of these regulators, it is possible to increase the setting yourself, although, we recommend contacting a plumber to make the adjustments.

Tip #3

  • Check the main water shut-off valve from the municipal water supply line. The valve should be fully open to allow maximum water flow to your house.

Tip #4

  • There could be a leak in the water main that is causing your low water pressure. Check the ground near the water main, and your garage or basement, looking for evidence of a leak. You can also look for clues for a leak on your water bill. If your water usage has been gradually increasing, it’s possible that you have a leak that is growing over time. If there is a big jump in your water usage from one month to another, there may be a broken pipe or a large leak that suddenly occurred. Depending upon where the leak originates, the water company may repair the problem at no cost to yourself.

Tip #5

  • If your house was plumbed with galvanized pipe, corrosion and rust will build-up within the pipes. Eventually, the build-up will create a noticeable difference in your water pressure, and could clog your pipes entirely. Replacing the plumbing in your home is really the only solution in this situation.

Low Water Pressure in the Shower

Tip #1

  • If your water pressure is only low in the shower, the problem could be as simple as the shower head. Over time, mineral build-up will eventually clog the small spray holes.  This can often be fixed by simply removing the shower head and either replacing it with a new one or soaking it overnight in vinegar or a deliming solution. However, it’s important to point out, that some shower head finishes may be damaged, so check with the manufacturer first.

Low Water Pressure at a Sink

Tip #1

  • Remove the faucet nozzle and turn the faucet on. If you have a strong water flow, your nozzle has mineral build-up. You can replace it with a new nozzle or soak it overnight in vinegar or a deliming solution.
  • If the water pressure does not improve with the nozzle off, the problem could be the water line to the sink. Many older homes were plumbed with galvanized pipes which tend to develop mineral deposits over time. In this case, it is best to contact a plumber to make the necessary repairs.