A good plumber should know the potential culprits of weak water pressure and all their corresponding solutions. Learn the most common causes of low water pressure and how to address them.
Deteriorating or corroded plumbing, especially in older homes, eventually closes itself off and leads to lower pressure. The corrosion deposits in aging plumbing can clog pipes to the point that water is only able to pass through a pencil-sized hole.
Solution: Clean or replace old pipes.
Sometimes disassembly and cleaning can fix the problems, but usually replacement is needed. Copper piping is ideal because it doesn’t deteriorate inside.
Bad Pressure Regulator
Many homes that rely on public water have a regulator either at the meter or where the service line enters the house. When the regulator goes bad, the pressure will gradually drop.
Solution: Reset or replace the pressure regulator.
Since most regulators are adjustable, if it appears to be in good shape, the amount of pressure it regulates can be increased. Otherwise, the regulator should be replaced.
A House Built High Above the Water Source
If water has to travel up the length of a hill, the pressure might become too low once it reaches the second floor.
Solution: Install a pressure booster pump.
Install a pump that will draw the water up the hill. These run on a home’s electricity and typically cost between $150 and $350.
Clogged Screen in the Water Line
Some water meters have an inlet screen where the pipe connects on the inlet side. This screen keeps small particles out that may harm the meter. Sometimes, in the case of a water line break, particulates can plug up the screen.
Solution: Clean or replace the screen.
It’s best to call the local water company to take care of the problem. They can clean or even remove the screen if they deem it unnecessary.
Many times, the water pressure problem isn’t too far in the pipes. Faucet fixtures can become clogged with sediment or mineral deposits, especially when drawing from a nearby well.
Solution: Clean or replace the faucet.
The faucet can be flushed out with running water or by sticking a stem wire into the spout. If that’s unsuccessful, replace the faucet.
Clogged Supply Valve or Broken Control Valve
Like the faucet, the supply valve could also be clogged up with sediment. It’s also possible for a control valve to be in the closed position unintentionally, or even broken in that position. Either scenario will cause low or no water pressure.
Solution: Clean or replace the control valve.
A clogged valve can be cleaned, but valves typically need to be replaced. If the valve is in the closed position, it simply needs to be opened up. If it’s broken, replace it.
Broken or Clogged Water Pump
If weak water pressure is due to an inefficient water pump, it may be broken internally or clogged.
Solution: Clean or replace the water pump.
If it’s broken, the pump needs to be replaced. However, if it’s just clogged, its pipes and valves can usually be blown out with either water or air pressure.
Weak water pressure is one of the most common complaints plumbers receive, so it’s critical to know the most likely causes. Educating yourself is especially important for troubleshooting, because failing to pinpoint the exact problem will often lead to unnecessary work and unhappy customers. Before you replace an expensive fixture, check to make sure it doesn’t need to be unclogged.