What You Can Do About Low Water Pressure
Low water pressure is certainly an annoyance for many homeowners. Not only can it increase the time it takes to do things like shower, wash dishes, and water outdoor plants, but it also significantly increases how much water is used doing these simple tasks. There are many things that can cause low water pressure, but there are several things you can do to resolve the problem on your own.
Most homes have two main water supply valves—the customer valve, located in your water meter box, and the home valve, located on the exterior hose faucet at the front of your house. If either of these valves is even slightly turned away from the “on” position it can drastically decrease water pressure.
Leaking pipes will also decrease water pressure noticeably. It can be difficult to determine if you have a leak, but the best way to check is to look at your water meter. To read your meter, shut off all faucets both inside and outside your home. Read the meter and leave the water off for at least two hours. Go back and read the meter again. If your usage has gone up, there’s a good chance you’ve got a leaking pipe somewhere. Call a licensed plumber right away to prevent extensive damage.
Low water pressure could be the result of something as simple as the time of day you’re using your water. Most of us operate on the same daily schedule—lots of activity early in the morning as we get ready for work and school, less usage throughout the day as we are out of the house, then things pick up again in the evening when everyone returns home. If you notice changes in your water pressure only at certain times of day or specific days of the week, it could mean that you and your neighbors are on a similar schedule. Try varying your water usage by showering at night, running the dishwasher right before bed, or putting in a load of laundry as you leave for work in the morning.
Pressure regulators are small, bell-shaped devices that are usually located just below the front hose connection on your house. Most builders preset these regulators between 45 and 60 psi, and this is usually more than sufficient to maintain water pressure throughout the home. However, sometimes a pressure regulator just wears out or goes bad and needs to be replaced. If you suspect your water pressure troubles lie with the regulator, it’s best to consult a plumber. It’s an easy, inexpensive fix and you’ll save yourself the trouble of causing more damage by trying to repair or replace it yourself.
Older homes or those with galvanized iron pipes are prone to mineral deposits that build up over time. These are unavoidable, but can cause structural damage and make pipes more prone to cracking and leaking. If you know your house is old or has iron pipes, it’s best to consult a professional plumber who can assess the extent of the problem and estimate the cost of repairs.