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Here's How You Can Figure out Why You Have Low Water Pressure

Why Is My Water Pressure Low? Causes and How to Fix It

If you’ve been asking, “Why is my water pressure low?”, we understand what a frustrating problem this is. You go to turn on the kitchen faucet for some drinking water expecting a steady flow, but all you get is a few drips. Or you flush your toilet and it’s not filling back up again. These are all signs your home’s water pressure has dropped.

The short answer is low water pressure in your home arises due to a number of causes. Some include a shut or blocked water meter valve, mineral buildup clogs pipes, corroded pipes, or even a crack in the main city supply pipe to your home. Luckily, there are some simple ways you can diagnose this low water pressure mystery and restore proper water pressure throughout your Indianapolis home.

Home Water Pressure Explained

The water you use in your home is pressurized in order to move it through your plumbing system. In Indianapolis area homes supplied by municipal water, water is commonly pressurized at an altitude using the water towers you see around your community. If you have a private well, there is a pressure tank in your home that pressurizes the water you use.

Ideally, residential water pressure is between 45 and 55 psi (pounds per square inch). You can measure this with a water pressure gauge. Water pressure commonly ranges between 45 and 80 psi, depending on factors such as demand, distance away from the water supply, and more.

Once water pressure drops to 40 psi, it is what we call low. When the water pressure reading reaches 30 psi or lower, you definitely experience water pressure issues in the home. Low water pressure creates the issue of not having enough water supply to comfortably or thoroughly perform tasks, like showering or washing dishes. Alternatively, you don’t want water pressure to be too high, as this causes leaks and damage to your plumbing system.

Causes of Low Water Pressure at Home

Poor water pressure is caused by factors both internal and external to your home. Issues with your municipal water supply cause low water pressure, such as a broken water main – there’s nothing you can do about this except wait for your water company to resolve the problem. However, when low water pressure originates from an issue specific to your home, such as a water pipe or your pressure regulator fails, plumbing repairs can correct the problem.

Some issues are solved with simple troubleshooting on your own around the home. These are:

  • High Water Demand
  • Closed Water Meter Valve
  • Fixture Issues
  • Pressure Regulator Malfunction
  • Clogged Plumbing Lines
  • Corrosion in Plumbing Lines
  • Small Branch Lines

High Water Demand

Low water pressure in a home often occurs when the demand for water usage is too high at a given time. If you run more than one tap or water-consuming appliance at a time, water pressure has the potential to drop beyond a level that is comfortable for your use.

Your home’s water supply is only able to deliver so much water at any point in time. When water is called for by multiple taps or appliances, the supply divides in order to supply all applications. Thus, water pressure is lowered.

If low water pressure is caused by too high of a demand at any one time, your water pressure issues subside as your demand decreases. When just one fixture or appliance is in use, you find water pressure is just fine.

What’s the Fix?

In this situation, resolve the issue of low water pressure by adjusting your habits and better coordinating your use of water throughout the house. Wait to shower until washing machines and dishwashers have completed their cycles. Stagger your showers so family members aren’t showering in different bathrooms at the same time.

Closed Valves

Water comes into your home at the main shutoff valve. It flows through fixtures and appliances at their individual shut-off valves. These valves need to be fully open in order for your home to receive proper water pressure. If they have been closed, either fully or partially, low water pressure results. The problem resolves once the shut-off valves are fully opened.

What’s the Fix?

To troubleshoot this possible cause of low water pressure, check your home’s shut-off valves. Your main shut-off valve is located on the exterior of your home near the hose bib (outdoor spigot) or indoors, possibly in a utility room. Fixture shut-off valves are typically located on the wall below or behind the fixture. Make sure valves are in a fully opened position. If they appear to be damaged or broken, call your plumber to assess the valve and replace it if necessary.

Fixture Problems

Over time, problems can occur with your plumbing fixtures which restrict water flow and make it feel like there is low water pressure from the tap. Mineral deposits made up of limestone, rust, and sediment collect inside the fixture which has the potential to block the free flow of water through the fixture. This is the likely culprit for low water pressure if you only have one or two areas that experience pressure issues.

What’s the Fix?

To troubleshoot this issue, clean showerheads and sink aerators.

  • Remove the showerhead and clean out sediment that has collected inside. For showerheads with a filter, also remove and clean the filter.
  • If mineral deposits are visible on your showerhead, soak the fixture completely in a bowl of white vinegar overnight. Rinse it thoroughly with water and reattach.
  • Remove aerators from sinks and clean them of mineral deposits or replace the component.

Another showerhead-related issue that causes low water pressure is the presence of a flow restrictor. Some manufacturers have added flow restrictors to help reduce water consumption. While good for the environment, if you live in an area with already low water pressure, the flow restrictor worsens the problem. Remove the flow restrictor to facilitate better water pressure from the fixture – check the user manual for your showerhead for instructions.

Malfunctioning water softeners or home filtration systems are other common causes of low water pressure at home. If these components do not function properly, bypass them until repairs are made to restore water pressure. The equipment’s user manual has instructions to follow to bypass the system.

Pressure Regulator Malfunction

Your home’s plumbing system includes a component called the pressure regulator. Its purpose is to keep water pressures in your home stabilized to a specific range. With a broken pressure regulator, low water pressure or high water pressure can result.

If water pressure is either low or high with no in-between, this symptom points to a problem with the pressure regulator. If your water pressure was fine before but you now experience high or low water pressure, the pressure regulator may require replacement.

What’s the Fix?

Not all homes have a pressure regulator but if yours does, you are able to troubleshoot low water pressure problems stemming from this component. It’s a bell-shaped component that sits below the front hose connection on your home.

To remedy low water pressure, turn the screw at the pressure regulator’s tip to tighten it, which should increase water pressure in your home – for high water pressure, loosen the screw to lower it. If these adjustments do not remedy the low water pressure you experience, call your plumber to determine if your pressure regulator needs to be replaced.

Clogged Plumbing Lines 

Over time, your water supply pipes can become clogged due to minerals deposited by incoming water, rust, and other materials that build up along the pipe walls. This buildup limits the area within the pipe and restricts water flow, which results in low water pressure. A sign of clogged pipes is a good flow of water as soon as the tap turns on, but it quickly drops in pressure.

Clogs commonly affect certain types of plumbing pipes more than others. Galvanized steel pipes are prone to clogs. Though they are not the standard material for plumbing lines today, in older homes these pipes are often still in use.

What’s the Fix?

Clogs in your water supply pipes that lead to low water pressure are an issue for your plumber. Your plumber needs to assess the pipes to determine if cleaning is possible to remove buildup within the line or if the pipes need to be replaced.

Corroded Plumbing Lines

Corrosion of plumbing lines is an issue in homes with metal pipes. Over time, corrosion develops within the pipe and builds up, restricting the flow of water. Corrosion may affect just one section of piping or be an issue across the entire plumbing system.

What’s the Fix?

If you suspect corrosion in your plumbing lines, call a plumber. He or she assesses your plumbing lines for corrosion and determines if they are able to be cleaned out or if replacement is the best choice.

Small Branch Lines 

The branch lines of your plumbing system are those that come off the vertical supply stack lines. They stem from the main line like branches of a tree to supply water to different fixtures.

If you have added fixtures or water-consuming appliances, it is possible that the old branch lines are not large enough to accommodate the supply necessary. If the branches are too small, this also leads to low water pressure.

What’s the Fix?

This is an issue a plumber is able to assist with. Your plumber assesses your plumbing system, branch lines, and water demand to determine if bigger branch lines are able to offer better water pressure in your home.

Fix Low Water Pressure with Williams Comfort Air

If you notice low water pressure in your Indianapolis area home, call Williams Comfort Air today to schedule plumbing repairs. Williams Comfort Air’s licensed Indianapolis plumbers explain the causes of low water pressure and what we do to correct them. For plumbing repair in your Central Indiana home, contact us today to schedule service.

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