Saturday, July 21st, 2018 by Bob Morgan
Living in a home with low water pressure is frustrating and inefficient. If your home has hard water, it could be slowly but surely restricting flow until you’ve got major complications. You’ll typically notice it first when you’re showering. That’s the place where we all enjoy good water pressure and need it to rinse the soap and shampoo away. However, water pressure problems can also impact other areas of your home. Washing machines take longer to fill up, dishwashers take longer to run through cycles, and faucets slow down to a dribble. The first step in addressing the problem is identifying the underlying cause. Here’s a look at some of the most common reasons why homeowners experience low water pressure as well as some advice on what you can do.
City residences connected to a municipal water supply will have two important valves: one at the street level found outside your home at the water meter, and the other is the house’s main water shut-off valve. If either of these valves are partially closed, you may notice a difference in water pressure. Issues with valves are uncommon, but if there’s a sudden change in pressure, it’s worth checking out. The water meter valve should be operated by the municipality. If there was any utility work or repairs done on your home recently, and your entire home experienced a sudden drop in water pressure, it is possible that’s the cause.
The main shut-off valve should also be checked. This where water enters your home and it could be located inside or outside. It is often found near the water heater. Make sure it is fully open.
Some homes have another type of valve known as a pressure regulator. It reduces water pressure coming into the house to a safe and comfortable level. Water pressure that’s too high can create plumbing issues and cause unnecessary stress on appliances like dishwashers and clothes washers. A regulator protects pipes and appliances as well as extend the life of fixtures.
When a pressure regulator fails, it could cause a sudden increase or decrease in water pressure. A common reason for failure is sediment build up in the valve, which could cause blockages, pump problems, and short cycling.
If you think this is the cause of your concerns, it’s best to call a local plumbing professional. It could be that your regulator is set too low to meet your family’s demands. For example, do you seem to lose pressure when showering at the same time the dishwasher is running? This might be related to the pressure regulator.
Water pressure problems could be as simple as faulty faucets and fixtures. If you’re experiencing low pressure in a specific area, check for clogging or corrosion that could be slowing water flow.
This can be rather easy to remedy. You can replace faucet aerators, clean showerheads to remove limescale, or simply buy new fixtures to replace the defective ones.
Just be aware, repairing or replacing faucets and fixtures is only a temporary solution. The problem will come back over time.
You’re likely getting buildup from hard minerals such as calcium and magnesium in your water. This is one of several common hard water problems. The tiny holes in your showerhead, for example, can easily get clogged with the residue that dissolved minerals leave behind.
A residential water treatment solution, such as a quality water softener, is the best way to permanently avoid these annoyances.
Of course, fixtures aren’t the only things that can become clogged by mineral deposit buildup from hard water. The issue could run deeper, causing more serious plumbing headaches. Clogged pipes are one of the most frequent reasons for low water pressure.
The pipes in your home are a lot like the arteries in your body. And, just as cholesterol can clog your veins, limescale restricts the diameter of piping over time, leading to low water pressure. Read our article to learn more.
You can try quick fixes for clogged pipes, including using chemical products or a mixture of vinegar and baking soda. Unfortunately, these hacks are meant to work on drain pipes, not the pipes delivering water through your home.
When there are plumbing issues contributing to water pressure reduction, it will happen slowly over time. So, you may not notice it until you recognize the signs and symptoms and the problem becomes bad enough that you need to call a plumber.
If you visit friends and family, and notice they have much better water pressure, it could mean yours needs to be examined. Ask your hosts if they own a water softener.
Many times, plumbing problems that lead to poor water pressure happen in systems with older, galvanized iron pipes. Not only can these pipes become clogged with scale, they’ll also become restricted by corrosion.
Acidic water with a low pH can cause corrosion, but water that is too alkaline may also corrode copper pipes. Elevated levels of dissolved oxygen in water, sulfate and iron bacteria, high total dissolved solids (TDS), and sediment in the water that wears on piping may also produce corrosion.
Higher water temperatures increase the risk of corrosion. That’s one reason why you may notice a decrease in water pressure when you’re using hot water.
Another area of concern when diagnosing pressure problems with hot water is a home’s water heater.
If you specifically notice reduced pressure when using hot water, it could be that your water heater is struggling to produce enough for your home’s usage requirements.
Once again, there’s a very good chance hard water is contributing to your troubles. Buildup in pipes may be blocking flow into and out of the water heater, which results in less-than-desirable pressure.
Hard water can also wear out appliances including water heaters, dishwashers, and washing machines sooner than expected. Thankfully, there is a simple solution to stop all these troubles.
Homeowners in rural areas who get water from a private well may have different reasons for low water pressure.
One common reason is that sediment clogs the well screen. In this case, a local well and pump expert can come to remove the pump, flush the well, and clean or replace the screen as well as any other components that are causing problems. An issue such as this may indicate your well needs a better seal.
Low water pressure from a well could also stem from a change in water levels. Nearby wells accessing the same aquifer could be affecting your supply. Or, the aquifer could be dried up and your well may need to move or be dug deeper. Read about other common well water problems on the Water-Right blog.
If your home has hard water (and the majority of U.S. homes do), the best way to protect your investment is to have a high-quality water softener installed by a local expert who understands water quality in your area.
Soft water helps you avoid the buildup that causes low water pressure and many other difficulties that can drive homeowners mad. From personal care problems like dried out hair and skin, to housecleaning headaches and appliance issues, hard water is a nuisance. Contact us to learn more today!