Having a constant and strong supply of water to our homes is something we usually take for granted. Throughout the day, as you make coffee, wash the dishes, or take a shower, you don’t expect these chores to take much time – but when the water pressure is low, it takes a frustrating length of time to accomplish these same tasks.
If your house gets its supply from the city utility line, here are some of the things you can check, so you’ll know when a DIY fix or plumbing service call is necessary to get your water pressure back to normal.
Check the water meter
No matter how simple it might seem, don’t overlook the first place to check for any issues with low water pressure. The main valve by your water meter controls the flow from the street line into your home’s pipes. Sometimes, work around the home results in this valve being partly closed. Do a quick check to make sure that a basic shutoff switch isn’t the source of your problems.
Get a water pressure reading
Home centers sell a pressure gauge that you can hook up to one of your outside fixtures. Make sure other fixtures are switched off, and then turn on the water at the gauge to get a reading. You should get a measure of at least 45-50 psi. If the reading is lower, call your city water department and confirm if there is a problem in the area, and when you might be able to expect normal service to be restored.
Clear out clogging
Older pipes can gradually accrue mineral deposits, and as they thicken, the interior of the pipes will constrict and hinder water flow. There are some simple, non-invasive DIY jobs to remove clogging without having to replace your pipes.
Soaking a clogged fixture, such as a faucet or showerhead, overnight in a bag filled with vinegar will help remove mineral deposits. Rinse your fixture and restore it, and see if the water flow is back to normal. You can also try to back flush with toggle aerators.
Replace the pipes
If you have a severely clogged pipeline due to mineral deposits, or suspect cracks, leaks, or corrosion in the pipeline, then a professional plumber might need to step in and fix the issue. However, this is less likely to be the case in a new house, or with recently replaced fixtures. To make sure, switch off all fixtures in the home and shut off the valve by your water meter. Take the meter reading, and after a couple of hours, recheck the meter reading – if it has gone up during this time, you’re probably dealing with a leak and need to have the pipes replaced.
Install a pressure booster
If the problem still hasn’t been resolved to your satisfaction, then a water pressure booster may be necessary. These systems use a pressure tank and an electric pump to take the water coming in from the street line, and distribute it through your house at a higher pressure.
There are ready-made systems such as Grundfos pumps, which you can purchase online and have been tested to meet rigorous Australian standards for domestic applications. You can install these as a DIY job or with the help of a professional plumber.
While many factors are contributing to a drop in water pressure, running through the checklist of possible causes will lead you to the best solution for your specific situation.