Looking At Homes for Sale? Watch For These Warning Signs of Plumbing Problems
September 19, 2017

Under Pressure: Why You Might Have Poor Water Pressure and What You Can Do About It

It’s more than a little annoying when you turn on the tap or the shower and see nothing but a slow drizzle when you need a bit more power behind your water stream. Low water pressure can happen for a number of reasons, and if you’re done with taking tired showers or washing dishes in a lazy flow of water, you need to troubleshoot the problem.

Here are some of the most common causes of low water pressure and what you can do to make it better.

Aerator Buildup

If your pressure problem is limited to one shower head or faucet opening, the most common trouble is buildup that clogs the aeration. Instead of water coming out with more force, it pools together and barely dribbles through the aerator or shower head.

Fortunately, this is an easy fix. You can remove the shower head or sink aerator and replace it with another one or clean it out with a vinegar solution (this can help if you have hard water that leaves deposits). If this fixes the pressure issue, you’ve diagnosed and solved the problem in one fell swoop.

Clogged Sink Lines

If you do fix the aerator and the one faucet or shower still does not run the way it should, it’s time to call a plumber. You could have buildup in the water line itself that is preventing the water from flowing fully to the tap. This is not as simple to fix or diagnose, so don’t try and do it yourself.

Hot Water Heater Trouble

Maybe you have beautifully pressurized water whenever you turn on the cold water to wash your veggies, but when you turn the tap to warm water for washing dishes, the flow turns from a gush to a drizzle. Temperature-sensitive water pressure points to your hot water heater as the culprit behind your pressure problems.

You’ll want to:

  • Check your heat to see if the water shut-off valve from the heater to the pipes is open. If it is partially closed, you aren’t getting full flow from the heater.
  • Call a plumber to check to make sure the heater was installed and properly plumbed. Sometimes, incorrect installation can contribute to pressure trouble.
  • Check your pipe type and sizes. Galvanized pipes can collect deposits of calcium, iron and other minerals over time, especially when moving hot water. If you have an older home with 1/2 inch galvanized pipes leading from the heater, you might need to consider some plumbing upgrades.

Keep in mind that pressure that has slowly reduced over time can also indicate a buildup of scale in the pipes. Hot water usually shows the symptoms first, but cold water will also start to slow down. The only real way to solve the problem of old, scaly pipes is to replace them.

Also, it’s not uncommon to have hot water pressure trouble after you have had your water heater fixed or replaced. Give the water a day or so to regulate before worrying about lingering pressure issues.

Regulating Valves

Some homes have “master” pressure regulators that control the flow of water from the main water line to the entire house. If this regulator is broken, it could mean you have terribly strong pressure or terribly weak pressure, depending on what the regulator was meant to fix.

Pressure regulators are usually meant to help decrease pressure so that your pipes are not bursting at the seams — literally. They also save you on water bills by preventing leaking faucets and constantly running toilets. However, even if your regulator was meant to control high pressure, you can still have low pressure if it broken.

Leaks

Finally, one of the more concerning causes of low water pressure is damage to your plumbing system that results in water loss. Once you’ve checked the regulator, made sure the water supply valves are all open and functioning, checked the faucets for scale and made sure your pipes are free of clogs, it’s time to hunt for a possible leak.

Plumbing leaks are concerning because if they go unnoticed, they can cause structural damage to your home and invite the growth of mold and mildew. They cause low pressure because the water that should be traveling to your tap is getting partially redirected by the leak, ruining the closed system that keeps forcing the water through the pipe.

To check for leaks, begin outdoors. Check where water lines meet the house to make sure there are no leaks there.

Then move to the basement to check utility closets and feel the walls and floors for damp spots. Then check under kitchen cabinets, in the bathroom and in closets. Look at the ceilings for water spots, especially in rooms that lie below bathrooms or kitchens.

If you are not successful in finding a leak, you may still want to call a plumber to double check. Finding a leak and fixing it early is much less costly than water damage that could come later.

For a plumber in the Tampa, FL, area, contact The Clean Plumbers today.

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