Low water pressure in a home is never a pleasant experience and can be very annoying when doing everyday chores and activities. Figuring out why your household has low water pressure and how to fix it can be very confusing at first, but with the information in this article, you should be well on your way to solving your water pressure problems.
Generally, you can fix low water pressure by adjusting the pressure-reducing valve located near the water meter. To increase the water pressure, loosen the lower nut on the top of the valve and turn the bolt clockwise. Then, retighten the nut once the water pressure is back to a desirable level.
The best way to increase your household’s water pressure can differ significantly depending on your situation. So let’s take a more in-depth look at what causes low water pressure, how to isolate the reason why your pressure is low, and ways you can go about increasing your water pressure.
Can You Increase Household Water Pressure?
Yes, it is possible to increase the water pressure in your home.
However, it’s essential to find the actual problem causing low water pressure before implementing fixes to increase your home’s water pressure. Low water pressure is usually the result of an underlying issue, deterioration, or mistake in your home’s water system.
What Causes Your Home to Have Low Water Pressure?
There are many reasons why a house has low water pressure, and sometimes it results from many problems occurring at once. Below are a few of the most common reasons for low water pressure:
- Partially Closed or Blocked Valves – Sometimes, the main water valve to a house is left only partially open after construction, or something accidentally bumps it. A partially closed valve can result in only a fraction of the regular amount of water entering the house, resulting in low pressure.
- A Failing Pressure Regulator – Water pressure regulators are valves installed on the main water line entering a house to reduce the pressure to an acceptable level for household use. If your pressure regular is old or failing, it can cause lower-than-usual water pressure in your home.
- Using Too Much Water Simultaneously – Flow rate is the amount of water your household can pull in one minute; you measure it in gallons per minute (GPM). If your house has a flow rate of 12 GPM and you are running multiple water faucets and appliances, you may go over your allocated flow rate, and it’ll result in lower water pressure.
- Blocked Faucets or Showerheads – Water faucets and showerheads can get debris blockages, mineral buildups, or simply break, which will often result in low water pressure.
- Leaking Pipes – Pipe leaks in your home or in the main water line leading to your house siphon water out of your pipes and results in less water reaching your faucets or appliances. Not only are water leaks annoying and costly, but they will often result in lower water pressure in your home.
- Blocked Pipes – Mineral buildup or debris blockage in your pipes allow less water to travel through them and often result in lower water pressure.
Isolate the Reason for Your Home’s Low Water Pressure
Before increasing your household’s water pressure, it’s essential to try to isolate the problem and find the root of the issue.
1. Make Sure All Unnecessary Water is Turned Off
When trying to isolate the problem causing your home to have low water pressure, the first thing to do is turn off all faucets and appliances that use water. Make sure you turn off:
- Laundry Machines
- Hoses and Spigots
Turning off all water-using items in your home will eliminate the possibility that your low water pressure is caused by going over your household’s flow rate. Do a quick inspection of hoses, faucets, and showers to ensure they aren’t leaking and causing low water pressure throughout your house.
2. Make Sure Your Main Water Valve is Fully Open
If you’ve turned off all sinks, showers, and water using items in your home and you still have insufficient water pressure, it’s a good idea to check your main water valve.
Your household’s main water valve, usually located near your home on the main water line, controls all the water that enters your house. If it’s partially closed, it can cause low water pressure throughout your house.
If you haven’t messed with your main water valve or had construction on your home recently, this is unlikely the problem, but it’s quick, easy, and worth checking.
3. Test If You Have a Water Leak in Your Home
Another principal reason for low water pressure is a leak in your pipes that siphons water before it’s able to reach your faucet or shower.
Here is an easy way to test if there are any significant leaks in your home without calling a plumber:
- Turn off everything in your home that uses water (showers, appliances, faucets, etc.)
- Write down the number on your water meter
- After 2-3 hours, check your water meter and write down the number
If the number on your water meter has increased without using water in your home, it could be a sign of a leaking pipe. However, this test is not foolproof because many houses have things (such as water heaters) that can use water without you doing anything.
While this test doesn’t work 100% of the time, if your meter has gone up after the allotted time, it may be worth calling a plumber to your home to ensure there isn’t a leak damaging anything and costing you money.
4. See If Your Neighbors Have Similar Water Pressure Issues
If all of the above methods for isolating the reason for your household’s low water pressure don’t work, it may be a good idea to check in with your neighbors before spending time and money on a fix.
It may be a neighborhood or city-wide problem that is entirely out of your control.
If you’re on city water, the water department may temporarily decrease your flow rate, which would cause low water pressure until it’s turned back up. Check with your neighbors or give your local water department a call to see if anything is going on that could be causing your low water pressure.
How to Increase the Water Pressure In Your Home
Now that we’ve gone over what causes low water pressure and how you can work to isolate the problem let’s look at solutions to increase water pressure.
Clean or Replace Faucet Aerators and Showerheads
Sometimes, low water pressure is not a severe plumbing issue but a faulty showerhead or faucet.
Faucets and some showerheads have small filter-like pieces called aerators that add air to the water, which results in the faucet using less water while maintaining good water pressure. These aerators look like mesh filters, and while they aren’t supposed to act like filters, they can get clogged with debris or mineral buildup.
How to Replace a Faucet Aerator
- Unscrew the aerator from the end of the faucet with some Channellock pliers, or use an aerator key if your faucet has a recessed aerator.
- The rubber gasket may fall out once you remove the aerator, but you may need to get it out with a pair of needle-nosed pliers.
- Once done, put a new gasket in place and screw a new aerator onto your faucet.
How to Remove a Showerhead Aerator
- The process can vary depending on your particular showerhead, but you typically screw off the showerhead and access the aerator from the back of the removed showerhead.
- Carefully remove the aerator and rubber gasket from the back of the showerhead with a pair of pliers.
- Once removed, replace the rubber gasket and install a new aerator in the back of the showerhead before screwing the showerhead back into place.
Adjust the Pressure-Reducing Valve
A simple and common solution to low water pressure is to adjust your house’s pressure-reducing valve. While it may take some trial and arrow to get the pressure right, this method is straightforward and something most homeowners can do independently.
You can usually locate your pressure-reducing valve on your main water line that enters your home. It often is a brass color and has a cone-shaped top, which is the part that you adjust.
How to Adjust Your Pressure Reducing Valve
- Locate your home’s pressure-reducing valve and loosen the nut near the top of the valve under the bolt protruding from the top.
- Once the nut is loose, you can turn the bolt on the top clockwise to increase the water pressure and counterclockwise to decrease the pressure.
- After adjusting the bolt slightly, run into your home and check the water pressure. If the pressure is not to your liking, keep turning the bolt until it’s just right.
- Tighten the nut again once you’ve finished.
Replace Your Water Pressure Regulator
If you have a faulty or old pressure regulator, it could lead to low water pressure throughout your home. A pressure regulator is a small valve on your home’s main water line that regulates the pressure of the water enting your house.
Depending on your water set up, a water pressure regulator ensures that the water coming in from the city or a well is at an appropriate level for your household.
Remove Any Mineral Buildup In Your Pipes
Another way to increase the water pressure in your home is by cleaning out your pipes of any debris or mineral buildup. While large debris in your house’s water pipes is quite rare, mineral buildup in older homes is quite common and often easy to fix.
If left untreated for a long time, minerals can build up in your pipes and shrink the diameter of the inside of the line so much that nearly no water can make it through.
A common home remedy for mineral buildup in pipes is to tie an open bag of vinegar over a sink faucet and leave it overnight. The vinegar slowly absorbs into the faucet and makes its way into your pipes, where it will eat away at any mineral buildup.
In many cases where the mineral buildup is too much, it’s often easier and more efficient to call a plumber to replace the section of pipe affected.
Install a Water Pressure Booster
Sometimes, no matter what you do, the water pressure in your home will not increase. In this case, the solution is often to install a pressure booster pump.
You install pressure boosters along the main water line, and they essentially act as a fan to increase the pressure of the water going through the line.
Depending on your water system, pressure boosters can be a little expensive, so that is something to keep in mind. Small pressure booster pumps can cost as little as $100, but they can cost $1,000+ the more expensive and sturdy they are.
Before installing a pressure booster pump, it’s usually a good idea to contact a plumber or specialist to make sure it’s the right decision for your home and situation.
What to Do If Your Household Still Has Low Water Pressure
If, after trying the remedies listed in this article, your home still has super low water pressure, it’s often time to contact a professional.
When none of the common fixes work, frequently, it is because you have a burst or leaking pipe in your home that’s affecting water pressure. The test for identifying if you have a leak mentioned in this article is not 100% effective, so getting a plumber to inspect your home is a good idea.
Plumbers can be expensive, but they are often worth it if you’ve tried everything on your own and can’t figure it out. On the other hand, low water pressure can slowly drive you crazy and is not something you want to deal with long-term.
Contacting your local water department (either city or county) is another viable option. They can often help you diagnose your problem or point you in the right direction to a trusted professional that can help you.