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How to Diagnose and Fix Low Water Pressure at Home

Fix June 25, 2018
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Lindsay Cutler

Low water pressure can be a frustrating experience for everyone at home. Whether your low water pressure is confined to a single fixture at home or a widespread problem throughout the house, it’s important to get to the root of the problem. Follow these steps to track down the source of your low water pressure and work toward a solution.

Test out all your faucets and fixtures.

Is there low water pressure throughout the house, or is it only happening to a single fixture? Try out all your faucets and see where the problem is located.

Low water pressure in one or two fixtures

If low water pressure is only a problem in one or two fixtures, unscrew the aerator from the tip of the faucet and soak it in vinegar to remove any buildup that might be blocking the water flow. Consider replacing this cheap item. If replacing the aerator doesn’t improve the water pressure, there could be a clog in the pipe and you should contact plumber.

Low water pressure throughout the house

If your water pressure problem is evident throughout the house, first make sure your water main is completely open. Most water main valves operate as fully open or fully closed. However, your home may have a globe valve which regulates the pressure of your water supply. Turn it to a fully open position to ensure the supply line isn’t partially closed.

You can also test out the water pressure with an inexpensive water gauge from any hardware store. Hook it up to an outside spigot to test the pounds per square inch (psi) of the water pressure. If the pressure from an outside pipe (i.e., where the city water directly feeds to your home) is under 50 psi, you know that the city is pumping water at a suboptimal rate, and it isn’t necessarily a plumbing problem in your home. In this case, get in touch with the city’s water department about the water line on your street. However, if the gauge reads above 50 psi, keep investigating.

Still have low pressure? Check for leaks.

Your next course of action is to check for leaks. Does your toilet intermittently hiss when it’s not being used? You could be losing gallons per day to a persistent toilet leak. Try the food coloring test.

Search your home for any signs of leaks, including discoloration on the walls or ceilings, warped flooring or cabinets, water stains and signs of moisture, and even mold. Nevertheless, even if you know what to look for you could still be missing signs that a smart water monitor would be able to detect immediately. Installing a Flo could be a tremendous help. Flo continuously reads your pipes for changes in water pressure, temperature and flow and proactively alerts you when it detects a leak.

Still haven’t found a solution? There’s probably a blockage in your pipes.

If you live in an old building with galvanized steel pipes, you’re probably experiencing low water pressure due to scale, buildup and blockage from decades of use. Call a plumber to find the blockage and troubleshoot a solution, which may include anything from flushing your pipes to replacing damaged pipes entirely. In this case, leave it in the expert hands of your professional plumber and don’t do it yourself.

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