If you have ever struggled to rinse the shampoo out of your hair, washed your hands under a trickle of water, or waited what felt like ages for your washing machine to complete a cycle, then you have experienced the nuisance of low water pressure. Low water pressure can turn simple tasks into hassles, but once you identify the cause, either the necessary plumbing fix or a water booster pump can drastically improve your water pressure. Below you will learn about nine common causes of low water pressure and how you can improve the pressure in your home.
What causes low water pressure
Low water pressure is caused by a variety of issues, such as pipe corrosion, scale, leaks, and even gravity.
1. Corroded pipes
Corrosion is a natural process that occurs when the oxygen in water reacts with metal. For example, rust is a form of corrosion. When corrosion builds up in a pipe and restricts water flow, it causes low water pressure. It happens gradually, so the older your pipes are, the higher the risk of corrosion. While it is more common in older pipes, corrosion can also be exacerbated by acidic water. If you notice your water is tinted brown or red and has a metallic taste, your pipes may be corroded, but it is always best to consult a plumber to be sure.
The solution: Unfortunately, the only solution for corroded pipes is to have your pipes replaced. Once new pipes are installed, you should notice an improvement in your water pressure.
2. Scale buildup due to hard water
If you have hard water, scale can accumulate in your pipes, restrict the water flow, and reduce your water pressure. Hard water has a high mineral content, specifically calcium and magnesium, and scale is formed when calcium and magnesium salts dissolve.
The solution: When scale buildup is severe enough to restrict water flow and reduce water pressure, the best solution is to replace your pipes. Products like CLR Calcium, Lime, and Rust remover can diminish scale, but as the scale comes off it may clog your pipes, creating another costly plumbing problem. Not to mention, it is never a good idea to put harsh chemicals in the pipes that supply your drinking water. To prevent scale in the future, we recommend installing a water softener.
3. The main water shut off valve is not open.
If your water pressure has suddenly decreased and you recently had a repair done, make sure the main water shut off valve is fully open. Most plumbing repairs require the water to be shut off, but if the valve isn’t completely opened afterwards, your water pressure will be restricted.
The solution: Locate your main shut off valve, which is installed where the main water line enters your home, and fully open it by turning it counterclockwise.
4. A municipal water problem
Low water pressure may not have to do with your own plumbing system. Just like your home’s water supply, the municipal water supply is subject to problems that can cause low water pressure, such as leaks and corrosion.
The solution: Call the municipal water supply to report your low water pressure. Your input may alert them to the problem and will ensure your water pressure is restored as quickly as possible.
5. A leak
A leak can reduce water flow and water pressure. To determine if you have a leak, turn all the faucets off inside and outside of your home. About an hour later, check your water meter. If it indicates you are using water, you have a leak.
The solution: Enlist the help of a licensed plumber to locate and repair the leak. Once the repairs are complete, your water pressure should return to normal.
6. A faulty pressure regulator
A pressure regulator is a valve that reduces incoming water pressure as water flows into your home from the main service line. High water pressure can damage pipes and plumbing fixtures, so a pressure regulator is installed to protect your home plumbing system. Most are set to 50 pounds per square inch (psi), but if yours is set lower, your water pressure will feel low. If your pressure regulator is set to 50 psi but your pressure still feels low, it may be broken or clogged.
The solution: Adjust your pressure regulator’s setting to 50 psi if it is currently set lower. If your pressure regulator is faulty, ask a plumber to replace it.
Water contends with the force of gravity as it travels upwards. The higher the elevation water must flow, the lower the water pressure will be. Homes with multiple stories, apartment buildings, and skyscrapers may experience low water pressure due to gravity.
The solution: Install a water booster pump. Water booster pumps both improve low water pressure and increase water flow.
8. Distance from a water source
Distance from the municipal water source may affect your water pressure. The farther your home is from the water source, the farther water will have to travel though the service line, resulting in less water flow and low water pressure.
The solution: A water booster pump will increase water flow and water pressure.
9. Additional water treatment systems
Water treatment systems provide protection against contaminants and improve bad tastes and odors. They also help prevent issues that cause low water pressure, such as corrosion, scale, and dirt and debris, but if not sized properly, can contribute to low water pressure.
The solution: Make sure the water treatment equipment is sized properly, so as not to create a large pressure drop or flow loss. If needed, supplement your water treatment system with a booster pump to improve your water pressure. Keep in mind that the pump should be positioned so it increases water pressure in your home but does not force water into the filters at a higher psi, as this can damage the filtration system.
How do you know if you have low water pressure?
Testing your home’s water with a pressure gauge is the easiest way to find out if you have low water pressure. Pressure gauges are simple and inexpensive, and once installed, will allow you to check your water pressure with a quick glance.
If your water is from a municipal water supply, select an outdoor faucet near where the main water line enters your home. If your water is from a well, select a faucet that is close to the well’s pressure tank. Attach the pressure gauge to the faucet and tighten it. To get an accurate reading, make sure water isn’t being used anywhere else inside or outside the house, and then fully turn the faucet on. Now, you will be able to read the water pressure on the gauge’s dial. Typical home water pressure should be between 40 and 50 psi, so if the dial reads less than 40 psi, you have low water pressure.
Learn More: What is a Pressure Gauge and How Does It Work?
How to increase your water pressure
The best method to increase your water pressure will depend on what is causing it to be low in the first place. If applicable, fix the plumbing problem that is causing the issue, such as replacing troublesome pipes, repairing a leak, or mending a faulty pressure regulator. If your plumbing system is in good shape and yet you are not content with your water pressure, a water booster pump is a good solution.
What is a water booster pump?
A water booster pump is a centrifugal pump that improves low water pressure and increases water flow. Similar to how a fan’s blades create a gust of air, a water booster pump’s rotating impeller draws water in and then pushes it out with increased force; consequently, raising water pressure. A water booster pump is installed where the main water line enters your home, so water pressure is improved in every tap and appliance.
How to increase water pressure from a well
There are three basic steps you can take to increase water pressure from a well: adjust your tank’s pressure switch, rid your pipes of debris, or install a constant pressure system.
1. Adjust your tank’s pressure switch:
Test your water pressure with a pressure gauge. If the reading is below 40 psi, then adjust the pressure tank switch to raise your water pressure. Locate the pressure switch on the pipe that connects your well to your storage tank and modify the pressure accordingly. Pressure switches are typically factory set to turn the well pump on when the pressure drops to 30 psi and off when the pressure reaches 50 psi. The highest value you should adjust the turn off setting to is 60 psi. Also, having a properly sized pressure tank is integral to the success of a well system and maintaining your preferred water pressure.
2. Examine your pipes:
It is common for sediment and minerals to build up in a well system’s pipes, which can clog the pipes, reduce water flow, and decrease water pressure. We recommend having a licensed plumber inspect your pipes and clear any obstructions to restore your water pressure.
3. Install a constant pressure system:
By replacing a standard pressure tank and switch with a constant pressure system, you ensure stable water pressure throughout your home, regardless of how many faucets are running at one time. In a constant pressure system, pump speed will increase or decrease relative to the demand of water. When water demand is high, the pump speed increases, and when water demand is low, the pump speed decreases. A constant pressure system is an investment that will allow you to efficiently maintain your home’s water pressure.
Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) constant pressure systems run electronically and offer consistent pressure comparable to a city water supply. However, they are expensive and can be difficult to install. We offer an alternative constant pressure system that provides consistent pressure by shortening the pump on and off cycle. Plus, it comes pre-assembled and is easy to install.
We would love to help you find the right water pressure solution for your home. If you have any further questions regarding the causes of low water pressure or how you can improve it, please don’t hesitate to contact us.