How to Increase Low Water Pressure (5 Effective Methods)
If you’ve ever been showering when all of a sudden the water pressure from your showerhead reduces to what feels like a drip, then you know how frustrating low water pressure can be. On the bright side, correcting low water pressure issues in your home is often a very easy fix.
So, if you’re currently dealing with low water pressure, there’s a chance you could manage it without the help of a professional. To help get you started, check out this guide which includes 5 effective methods that you could try in order to increase your water pressure.
Common Causes of Low Water Pressure
First of all, what exactly is water pressure? Water pressure has to do with the force exerted on water as it comes out of your faucets. Depending on how great that force is will determine the pressure of the water coming out of your taps, hoses, and showers. A couple of common causes of water pressure problems include:
1. High Elevation
If you live on top of a hill, mountain, or generally at a high altitude, you may already know that having a home so high up in itself could create low water pressure. Conversely, if you live in a valley or at a low altitude, you may already know that this in itself helps to increase your water pressure. Elevation can affect water pressure in a couple of ways:
- The increased force needed to push water uphill
- Decreased air pressure at high altitudes
First off, imagine that you throw a bucket of water at a hillside and what would happen to the water: it would come falling back down the hill. In order to keep the water moving upwards, you would have to somehow induce a force on the water to keep it climbing upwards. The same is with the water in your pipes: If you live at a higher elevation, water needs a larger force exerted on it in order to get it up to that higher altitude.
Unless you have some type of pump increasing the force on the water as it goes uphill, you will most likely have lower water pressure. Secondly, higher elevations have lower air pressure than lower elevations do. The higher you climb, the more oxygen becomes less dense. Lower levels of air pressure make it harder for your pumps to work and successfully get water uphill.
2. Water Treatment Systems and Softeners
Water treatment systems such as reserve osmosis filters and water softeners may decrease water pressure. While you may enjoy having soft and decontaminated water, these perks come with their own set of downsides. Low pressure as a result of a filter is usually attributed to poor installation of the filter.
If your filter is not matched size and pressure-wise to your plumbing system, they can cause either too much or not enough pressure. Some of the ways in which softeners can cause low pressure include:
- Blocked particle filters
- Blocked resin beds
- Regeneration process
To begin with, hard water that makes its way to your house from a city supply line or well is filled with particles. Some of the particles are harmless while others could be contaminants. Your water softener’s job is to remove these particles with its filter. But, sometimes, particles will get built up in the filter making it harder for water to get through it.
Your filter needs to be cleaned regularly in order to avoid buildup and low water pressure. Next, after your water is filtered, some of the particles locked into the filter will fall out into the softener’s resin bed. This buildup similarly slows down the flow of the water in your system causing low pressure.
Lastly, in order to convert hard water into soft water, your water goes through a process called regeneration. This process requires a lot of water pressure. So, if you’re trying to get water out of your faucet while your softener is conducting this process, you may experience low water pressure. This should go away once regeneration is completed.
3. Robust or Poor City Plumbing
Between 2012 and 2018, water main breaks rose by 27% in America. These breaks cause numerous problems including low water pressure. The most common cause of the breaks is corroded pipes. If your city is not regularly fixing and improving its pipe system, then it will affect not only your home’s water pressure but also the quality of the water.
Corrosion is a particularly bad consequence of not taking care of pipes. Corrosion is caused by the oxidation of pipes. Steel pipes will, as a result, begin to break down and consequently reduce water pressure. Even worse, corroded pipes often cause water contamination. If your city is not updating its own steel pipes, then their water system could completely collapse.
The solution is for your city to completely re-pipe itself. This can constitute a big expense for residents of the city. Therefore, the best way to prevent this from happening in the first place is for the city to modernize its water system and regularly check in on its well-being.
4. Outdated Plumbing
Similarly, problems within your own home’s plumbing system can cause issues. If you don’t regularly get a plumber to come in and inspect the health of your pipes, then issues could compound over the years leading to low pressure. Make it a routine to get your pipes checked at least once every two years. This will reduce the likeliness of having an issue such as a burst pipe.
5. Distance From City or Well Water Source
The farther your home is away from the city’s main water source or well, the more force required to get the water to your home. As water travels long distances, it naturally decreases in velocity over time. A decrease in velocity will cause a decrease in water pressure in your home.
Conduct a Water-Pressure Test
If you think you are experiencing low water pressure, there are two ways to confirm this:
- Water-pressure test
- Water-flow rate test
In order to conduct a water-pressure test, you will need to purchase a water pressure gauge. You can purchase them at a hardware store. The pressure gauge will give you a pressure reading for your home’s water. Water pressure is measured in pounds per square inch (psi).
It tells you the pressure at which water from your city or well enters your home. Normally, water pressure is somewhere between 30 and 80 psi. But, the best water pressure is usually around 60 psi. Typically, less than 40 psi constitutes low water pressure. If you are sitting at 40 or below, then you’re most likely dealing with an issue in which the pressure of your water is too low and some part of your system needs a fix.
Check the Water Flow Rate
Another great way to inspect whether water pressure in your home is low or not is by calculating the water flow rate. However, it is important to note that the water flow rate does not directly tell you whether or not water pressure is low. Rather, a low flow rate could potentially help cause lower water pressure or aggravate existing low water pressure.
Therefore, do not assume that just because you have a low water flow rate that your water pressure is also low. Instead, assume that it could potentially be a cause of the low pressure. The water flow rate, also known as the gallons-per-minute rate, tells you the amount of water that is being delivered to your home’s pipes within a certain amount of time.
Specifically, it tells you how many gallons of water could come out of your faucets in a minute’s time. The measurement for the water flow rate is in gallons per minute (gpm). Knowing what your home’s water flow rate should be is not so straightforward. It depends on a couple of key factors:
- Your home’s square footage
- How many people are in your home
Typically, the more square feet your home is, the lower the flow rate. And, the more people in your home, the lower the flow rate. To calculate your water flow rate:
- Take a large measuring bowl and put it directly under a faucet
- Turn the faucet on full blast for 10 seconds
- Measure in gallons how much water you collected in that time
- Divide the number of gallons you got by ten
The average flow rate for a faucet is between 2 and 3 gpm. If you are below that, then you may be dealing with a low water flow rate.
Call Your City’s Water Department
Once you’ve determined that your water pressure is low, the next step is to figure out whether the problem is within your own home or with the city’s main water lines, or with your well. Start by calling people in your neighborhood to see if their water pressure is also low.
If it is, then there’s more likely to be an issue with the city or well water lines than with your home’s system. If everyone else’s water pressure is fine, then the most likely culprit is your home’s own water system. Additionally, you can call your city and ask them to run a free water pressure test.
The test will determine if the pressure of the water coming from the main pipes to your home is adequate. If the pressure is inadequate, then your city’s pipelines are causing the problem If you draw your water from a well, then you can call a well-pump plumber and have the well’s expansion tank inspected. Issues with the expansion tank are likely culprits in water pressure issues.
5 Effective Methods to Increase Water Pressure
Check out these 5 clear and easy ways to help increase the water pressure in your home.
1. Replace Your Pressure Regulator Valve
Pressure regulator valves regulate the flow of water from your city’s main water line to your home’s pipes. Also known as a pressure-reducing valve (PRV), it’s goal is to keep the pressure of the water coming into your home at a safe level. If there was no working PRV, then water would come running through the city’s water lines and into your home’s pipes where it would uncontrollably spray out everywhere (like a scene in a movie).
Most home plumbing systems can handle a pressure of 50 pounds per square inch (psi). City water, however, often has a pressure as high as 200. PRVs can help alleviate the strain that this excess pressure puts on your home’s appliances such as the washing machine. However, as PRVs age, they often cause a decrease in the pressure of the water coming into your home. If this happens, then the PRV will need to be replaced.
You can either hire a professional to replace the valve for you or do it yourself. To do it yourself, you’ll first need to be sure the water line to your home is shut off. Then, you can replace the valve and install it the same way as the old one was. This should restore the water to its original, higher water pressure.
2. Fix Cracked or Damaged Pipes
A sudden and rapid decrease in your water pressure could be the result of a burst pipe. For example, if you are using a sink and the water immediately stops, then that is a good sign your pipes are broken. In this situation, you’ll need to call a plumber asap. You’ll also want to make sure all your plumbing items are turned off in order to avoid damage to your house.
If your pipe is not burst but rather has a crack in it, water should not completely stop but will most likely decrease in pressure. Common signs of cracks in pipes include:
- Foul-smelling water
- Discolored water
- Stains on house walls
Additionally, if the weather has been unusually cold for your region and you experience a decrease in water pressure, it is a sign that your pipes could be frozen or have other damage to them. In all of these cases, you should call a plumber for help rather than trying to fix the pipes yourself.
3. Install a Water Pressure Boosting Pump
Water pressure booster pumps increase pressure by increasing the speed at which water from the city’s water source flows into your home. Pumps use either a spinning propeller or oscillating diagram to pull water inside the machine and then push it out with large force.
This force is what increases the water pressure in your pipes. The pumps increase pressure by increasing the rate at which the water flows. If the pressure from your city water supply or well is low, a pressure boosting pump could help. If the water supply faces pressure challenges due to gravity or distance, then a boosting pump could help there as well.
4. Open the Pressure-Reducing Main Water Valve
Your home’s main water valve controls water flow into your home. When it is closed, no water enters your pipes. When it is open, water can enter your pipes. Moreover, the main water valve can reduce the pressure of water in your home by being partially closed up.
Sometimes, someone accidentally nudges the valve causing a reduction in water pressure. To adjust this, simply turn your valve back to where it is fully open. This should immediately create an increase in water pressure. If you want to get maximum water pressure, be sure that your valve is turned completely counterclockwise.
5. Clean Out Mineral Buildup in Pipes
If you experience reductions in water pressure and live in a place where the water in your main water supply pipes is very hard, then your water itself could be the problem. Hard water is very high in minerals including magnesium, calcium, and sodium.
Over time, these minerals can cause buildup around your pipes and clog the water system. These blockages reduce the pressure of the water by making the water’s path more narrow. Depending on how clogged your pipes are, you may need to get a plumber to replace them. But, if it is only minor, then you can try this hack to get rid of mineral buildup and increase pressure:
- Fill a small Ziploc bag with vinegar
- Place the bag over one of the faucets in your house
- Tie the bag in place and allow the faucet to soak in it overnight
- Remove the bag the following day
- Test to see if your pressure has increased
If your water pressure does not increase after trying this hack out, then give a plumber a call because the buildup may be too big to be solved with vinegar.
Final Thoughts on Increasing Water Pressure
Low water pressure is frustrating and wastes time. When you’re paying to have quality water, low water pressure can ruin the ease of your water experience. Don’t waste time if your water pressure is low: Try one of our 5 effective methods to increase your water pressure.
Bonus tip: Check out this simple tutorial that shows you how to unblock mineral buildup in pipes in order to increase your water pressure.