Low Water Pressure in the House? How to Increase It

Low water pressure in the house is probably the second most infuriating thing after a slow internet connection. But why is there low water pressure in your house in the first place?

Most houses are supplied with water from the municipal city’s water lines while some use water pumped from a well. If you use water from a well then the low water pressure is restricted to your house while if you receive water from the city lines the problem could be within your house or the entire neighborhood.

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Low water pressure in the house is usually caused by clogged pipes/faucets, partially open shut off valves, leaking pipes, broken pressure reducing valves or a problem with one of the fixtures. There could also be a high demand for water at that specific time in your house or in the neighborhood.

Low water pressure in a house using a well is caused by sediment clogging up the pipes, pressure switch set too low, failing pressure tank or clogged well screen. It could also be that your well pump has seen better days and will need to be replaced.

To increase the water pressure in your house, make sure that the shut off valve is fully opened and that there are no leaks. Next locate the pressure reducing valve, loosen the nut and turn the screw clockwise till you get good water pressure. If that fails, install a water pressure booster pump.

Low Water Pressure in Whole House or 1 Fixture?

Whenever you suspect that have you have low water pressure in the house, you should first determine whether the problem is affecting your entire house or it is just one fixture.

Here is how to go about it:

Low water pressure in the kitchen faucet – Whenever you have low water pressure in your kitchen faucet, then the aerator or cartridge are clogged with debris, mineral deposits or pipe corrosions. It could also be that the shut off valve (found under sink) is partially open or the water supply line is kinked. More on that here.

Low water pressure from the shower head: Low water pressure from the shower head is usually as a result of a clogged shower head or presence of a flow restrictor inside the shower head. If the problem is only affecting the hot water, either the water heater shut off valve is partially open or the pipe supplying water to the shower is corroded or even leaking.

Low water pressure in the toilet – Unlike other fixtures in your house, toilets do not use water directly from the pipes. Every time you flush the toilet, water flows from the pipes through the supply line and is stored inside the tank ready for the next use.

In order for your toilet to function optimally, the water level in the toilet tank has to be correct. This is about half an inch below the overflow tube.

If you are experiencing low water pressure in your toilet, either the toilet is leaking, or the fill valve/float is not properly adjusted. It could also be as a result of clogged toilet rim holes or/and siphon jet.

Drop some food color inside the toilet tank and wait 30 minutes. If the color appears inside the bowl then you a leaking toilet flapper.

Sudden Low Water Pressure in the House

Are you experiencing a sudden low water pressure in your house, or has it been a gradual decrease? And what causes either?

A sudden decrease in water pressure in the house especially if you are on a well or/and using water softener is caused by debris clogging up your faucets’ aerators and/or cartridges. It could also be that the pump has shut off or there is a leak in the pipes.

Diagnosing the cause of low water in the house can be very tricky. Sometimes the problem is not only affecting your house but the entire neighborhood.

Water Pressure Drops then Comes Back

This problems affects folks who are using water from a well. But why would the pressure of water fall suddenly and then come back to normal on its own?

If the water pressure in your house drops then comes back, it is a sign that the level of water in the well is not constant or the pump’s motor is overheating prompting it to shutdown to cool.

Water inside the wells flows through cracks and pools around the well. This becomes easy for the pump to just pump it up and channel it to your house. With time, mineral deposits starts filling up these cracks restricting the water flow to the well.

When this happens the pump pumps “dry” causing a drop in the water pressure. After the level of water in the well has gone back to normal, the pump picks up again and starts pumping as usual.

If the pump is overheating, it is designed to shut off to give it time to cool. When these happens, no water will be pumped to your house. After it has sufficiently cooled it will automatically start and start pumping again.

Air in the pipes can also cause the pressure of water to drop. The air creates a barrier inside the pipe slowing down the flow of water. When you open a faucet, the water pressure will be low for some time. After the air has escaped also through the faucet, you will notice that the water pressure will increase tremendously.

How to Increase the Water Pressure in Your House

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After you have determined that the low water pressure is affecting the whole house and not just one fixture, you will need to fix it as soon as possible. It would be bad if there is a leak in the house that is left unfixed for a while.

As we have seen, there are so many things that can cause the pressure in the house to drop. Start by eliminating the easier tasks before you finally decide to call in a plumber.

1. Check the Shut Off Valves

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Your house will most likely have 2 valves that control the flow of water in your house. This is the main house water shut off valve and the meter shut off valve.

The meter shut off valve is usually located next to your house’s water meter. Your water meter will most likely be installed close to your property’s entrance.

The main house shut off valve is mostly installed inside the house’s basement nearer to the water heater or outside on a wall. Take you time to locate this valve in your home.

There are 2 types of shut off valves. You will either have a gate valve or a ball valve. A gate valve is usually round in shape and looks like a wheel/gear while a ball valve is controlled using a lever.

To open a gate valve turn it all the counterclockwise. To completely open a ball valve make sure that the level is aligned to the pipe. If the lever forms a 90 degrees with the pipe it means the valve is shut.

If one of these valves was partially open, go back to the kitchen or bathroom and check if the water pressure in the house is back to normal.

2. Adjust the Pressure Reducing Valve

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A pressure reducing valve, also known as a pressure regulator is a device that is installed near the house water meter to regulate the pressure of water flowing inside the house. Some houses have it while some don’t. Check if your house is fitted with one.

A malfunctioning water pressure regulator can cause water pressure in the house to swing both ways. Either too high or too low. So, how do you know if the pressure regulator is the culprit?

If you find that there is no difference in a faucet’s water pressure while opening it (it is not increasing gradually), your water pressure regulator has seen better days and will need to be replaced.

While readjusting your water pressure regulator is possible, the long term and better solution is to replace it. You should however not do it on your own. Call in a licensed plumber.

Before adjust water pressure at the pressure reducing valve, it is important that your first check the pressure of water already flowing in your house.

To do that, connect a water pressure gauge to your outside faucet spigot and turn it on. to get the correct figure, make sure that no water is being used in the house, like running a washing machine or taking a shower.

The normal water pressure in a house should be between 40 and 70 pounds per square inch (psi). Having water pressure at a pressure of more than 80 psi will lead to premature failure of appliances.

To adjust the water pressure at the pressure reducing valve, use a wrench to loosen the nut on it, then use a flathead screwdriver to turn the screw clockwise gradually. as you turn the screw, keep referring to the pressure gauge to check the new pressure reading.

Once you get your desired water pressure, tighten the locknut. By tightening the locknut you will have secured your desires water pressure.

3. Check Your Water Softener

Most people hardly think about it but your water softener could be the reason you are experiencing low water pressure in your house. Either:

  1. Your water softener is too small – If there are currently more people in the house or the demand for water is higher that it usually is, your water softener will be overwhelmed, limiting the water flowing to your house and hence a low water pressure. In this case you will need to upgrade to a bigger unit.
  2. The filter is clogged. The water softener is fitted with a filter that ensures that big particles do not flow in your house. Just like faucet aerators, the filter gets clogged with sediment after sometime restricting the water flow. Check and clean the softener’s filter.

Install a Water Pressure Booster Pump

Some times water just has problems accessing your property, leading to low water pressure. It could be that the area you live in has a high water demand, your house is up on a hill or you live in an old house with small pipes.

One practical and inexpensive way you can increase the water pressure to your house is installing a water booster pump. This will however need to be done by a licensed plumber.

Not all water booster pumps will work out well for you. It is important that you size your pump prior to buying one in accordance with the water demand in your house.

Water booster pumps costs between $100 and $500. It will cost more in installation costs, and you will also notice an increase in your monthly power bills.

4. Switch Off Some Appliances

If you are using the washing machine, shower and other appliances at the same time, the demand for water in your house will be too high, and that will considerably reduce the overall pressure of water in the house.

If you are running different appliances at the same time, switch off some of them and see if the pressure of the running one will increase.

High demand for water in your area especially during peak hours of the day will result in low water pressure in your house. Try checking the pressure during off-peak hours and see if there is a change.

5. Talk to Your Neighbors

Before picking up the phone and calling the plumber, ensure that the low water pressure is only affecting your house and not the entire area. Check with your neighbors if they are in the same boat that you are in.

If indeed your neighbors are also experiencing low water pressure, the problem is definitely with the municipal water supply. Call them and have them explain to you what the problem is.

6. Call a Professional Plumber

If your neighbors seem to be doing just fine, all of the shut off valves are open, water pressure regulator is okay as well as the water softener, you most likely have clogged pipes (especially old steel pipes) or you have leaky pipes.

Clogged/ leaky pipes is not something you can fix on your one. You will need the services of a professional plumber which unfortunately is not cheap. It is fast though.

Plumbers have special tools and cameras that they insert inside your plumbing network to pinpoint where the problem exactly is. They will also flush your pipes with hot pressurized water and clear all blockages.

Conclusion

In summary, low water pressure in the house is caused by:

  • Clogged faucet aerators and cartridges
  • Leaking pipes
  • clogged pipes
  • Small or clogged water softeners
  • Defective pressure regulators
  • Partially opened valves

While most of these problems are easy to fix on your own, some will need the intervention of professional plumbers.

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