People of past generations would no-doubt call us spoiled, but when it comes to running water, we expect a certain amount of ompf. We don’t want to have to stand under a dripping shower faucet hoping for gravity to take care of residual shampoo suds; we want to blast that soap into oblivion with some high-intensity water pressure. 

Unfortunately, we don’t always get what we want. 

Low water pressure in your home isn’t the end of the world. In fact, when compared to things like having to replace a ruined roof or pay for HVAC repairs out of pocket, water pressure can seem downright trivial. But trivial or not, it’s an annoyance — and there’s no reason why you should have to live with it. 

If listless water pressure is dripping on your last nerve, read on to learn about common causes and possible solutions.  

What causes low water pressure?

Low water pressure doesn’t just happen. If your water isn’t flowing the way it’s supposed to, there’s got to be a reason. Here are the most likely causes:

  • Clogged pipes or fixtures
    Clogged pipes can certainly cause a serious water pressure problem in your home, particularly if you have hard water. Hard water leaves mineral building as it passes through your pipes and faucets. Over time, this buildup can choke the flow of water, resulting in decreased pressure. If the low pressure is isolated to just one fixture or one area of the house, a clog might be the cause.
      
  • Leaks
    Your home uses a complex, interconnected network of pipes to get water to where it needs to be. And when that network springs a leak, pressure drops. In fact, a leak in any of your pipes can lead to decreased water pressure throughout your home (not to mention other problems). A leak can be identified by shutting off all of your taps, making note of the gallons used on your water meter, waiting 40 minutes, turning the taps back on, and then checking to see if the number of gallons used has changed. If it has, you could have a leak.
     
  • Corroded steel pipes
    If your water pressure has been gradually dropping and your home uses older galvanized steel pipes, you might be in for some repairs. This is because these older pipes tend to corrode internally, and as the corrosion builds up, the water pressure drops.
     
  • Partially closed water meter valve
    The water you use in your home has to come from somewhere, and in many homes, that water passes through two separate shutoff valves. One of these valves is the water meter valve (located next to your water meter). There’s usually no reason at all for you to bother with this valve, but if you’re experiencing low water pressure, then it’s worth noting that this valve — if partially closed — might be the culprit.

  • Partially closed main valve
    If water is coming through the meter valve without any problem, the main house shutoff valve may be the problem. Again, if the valve is partially closed, you’ll experience a dip in water pressure.

  • Malfunctioning pressure regulator
    Pressure regulators are designed to ensure that your home water pressure stays within optimal levels (so as not to damage home plumbing). Not all homes have a pressure regulator, but those that do might notice a drop (or possibly even a spike) in water pressure if the regulator begins to malfunction. If you’re seeing sudden pressure changes throughout your entire house, it may be the pressure regulator. 

 Fixing Low Water Pressure

When it comes to solving low-water-pressure problems, we have some good news, some bad news, and then some great news: The good news is that you can solve several of these issues yourself. The bad news is that some of these problems might necessitate expensive professional repairs. The great news is that if you have a comprehensive home warranty, many of those repairs will likely be covered for you. 

So, let’s take a quick look at each of the possible causes mentioned above, and what you should do about them:

  • Clogged pipes or fixtures
    The obvious solution to a clog is to shut off the water, remove the pipe, and dislodge the clog yourself. But if you’re not very experienced with this kind of work, then you might not want to go this far. Fortunately, a lot of hard water (and similar) buildup tends to take place in the fixtures themselves, and removing a faucet is a lot less invasive than pulling out pipes.

    If your low pressure is mostly localized to a single fixture, you might be able to solve the problem with some white vinegar. Unclog a clogged aerator by carefully removing and disassembling it from the faucet, soaking it in wihte vinegar overnight, using a toothbrush to remove and residual deposits from the aerator screen, rinsing all of the parts, and then reassembling and replacing the aerator.

    If taking apart an aerator still sounds intimidating, you can simply fill a plastic bag with a 1:1 mixture of water and white vinegar, use a rubber band to secure the bag over the fixture so that the spout/aerator is submerged, and allow it to soak for at least an hour. Then remove the bag and run the hot water to clear out any additional debris.

  • Leaks
    Fixing a leak is a bit more involved than dissolving hard water deposits in a faucet, but you may be able to create a temporary solution until you can get a professional out to your home. Finding the leak may take some time, and requires you to check all of your accessible plumbing (that means checking under sinks, outdoors, and possibly under the house). If you can’t find the leak, then you’re going to need to rely on a plumber. 

    If you do locate the leak, epoxy putty or self-fusing silicone tape may be able to buy you some time, but you’ll still need to replace the section of pipe, as soon as possible.

  • Corroded steel pipes
    Corroded steel pipes can be a big problem. Chances are, you’re going to have to replace your entire system with something newer (such as copper or plastic piping). Sorry, but there’s not much to DIY here; you’re going to need to call a professional.

  • Partially closed valves
    Here’s an easy one: Just open the valve all the way. That should allow water to flow more freely and increase your water pressure.

  • Malfunctioning pressure regulator
    This is another repair that will probably necessitate a visit from a professional plumber. That said, it is possible to replace your pressure regulator on your own; you’ll need to find the exact same brand/size of regulator, and you’ll have to use the water meter valve to shut off all of the water to your home. Follow the installation instructions in the regulator manual (which should be included with the regulator), and you should be set.  

Low pressure? No problem

No water pressure in house? Before you call a plumber, be sure to go through this list and see if you can fix (or at least find) the problem on your own. And remember, if you do have to hire a repair professional, there’s a good chance that the right home warranty provider will be able to cover the cost for you. 

After all, there’s nothing wrong with expecting good water pressure, and with the right know how — and the right home warranty coverage — there’s no reason why you shouldn’t.

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