Water pressure, a crucial aspect of any household’s plumbing system, refers to the force exerted by the water flowing through pipes. It determines how effectively water is delivered to various outlets, such as faucets, showerheads, and appliances. The measurement of water pressure, typically in pounds per square inch (PSI), reveals the strength of this force, influencing the efficiency of daily water usage.

Adequate water pressure is essential for the smooth functioning of a home. It ensures that daily activities like showering, washing dishes, and running appliances are efficient and comfortable. Maintaining the right water pressure is key to the longevity of plumbing systems and appliances, preventing issues like pipe damage or undue strain on household equipment.

Identifying low water pressure is the first step in addressing it. Signs include slow water flow from faucets, weak shower streams, and appliances taking longer to fill with water. These indicators signal an inconvenience and could point to underlying issues in your plumbing system that need attention.

Causes of Low Water Pressure

Understanding the root causes of low water pressure is crucial in finding effective solutions. Here are detailed explanations of common causes:

Clogged Pipes

Clogs in pipes can significantly reduce water flow, leading to lower pressure. Sediment buildup, mineral deposits, or debris often cause these clogs.

The buildup restricts water movement, reducing its force as it emerges from faucets or showerheads.

A sudden drop in water pressure at specific points rather than throughout the house often indicates a clog.

Leaky Pipes

Leaks in the plumbing system, including leaking taps or pipes, can lead to a significant drop in water pressure. These leaks might be due to damage, wear, or poor connections.

Water escaping from leaks means less reaching your outlets, resulting in lower pressure.

Look for wet spots, water stains, or mould on walls and ceilings. A higher water bill can also signal leaks.

Corroded Pipes

Over time, pipes, especially older metal ones, can corrode. This corrosion narrows the internal diameter of the pipes, restricting flow.

Corrosion can cause partial or complete blockages, severely affecting water pressure.

Corrosion is more common in older plumbing systems. Discoloured water or a metallic taste can also be indicators.

Undersized Pipes

Pipes with a diameter too small for the water demand of a house can lead to low pressure.

Small pipes limit the volume of water flowing through them, reducing pressure, especially when multiple outlets are used simultaneously.

This is often a design issue in older homes or those that have undergone unauthorised modifications.

Faulty Water Pressure Regulator

A water pressure regulator controls the pressure of water coming into your home. If this regulator fails, it can lead to inconsistent water pressure.

A malfunctioning regulator can cause either too high or too low water pressure.

If your neighbours have normal pressure, but yours is abnormal, the regulator might be the issue.

High Water Demand

High demand for water in your household or community, especially during peak times, can cause a pressure drop.

When multiple water outlets are used simultaneously in a home or when the community water demand spikes, pressure can drop.

Consider staggering water usage during peak times to maintain consistent pressure levels.

How to Increase Water Pressure in Your House

Improving water pressure involves systematically identifying and addressing the underlying causes. Here’s a detailed guide:

Identify the Cause of Low Water Pressure

  • Initial Assessment: Start by checking if the low pressure affects all water outlets or just specific ones. This helps narrow down potential causes.
  • Check for Visible Issues: Inspect for leaks, corrosion, or apparent signs of pipe damage.
  • Consult Neighbours: Determine if the issue is isolated to your home or a neighborhood-wide problem.
  • Use a Pressure Gauge: Attach a pressure gauge to a hose bib for an accurate water pressure reading.

Clean or Replace Clogged Pipes

Use a plumbing snake or similar tool to locate clogs.

For minor clogs, cleaning agents or vinegar can be used to dissolve sediment buildup.

For severe clogs, hiring a plumber who can use specialised tools to clear the pipes without causing damage is advisable.

Repair or Replace Leaky Pipes

Look for wet spots or listen for the sound of dripping water.

For minor leaks, waterproof tape or compounds can provide a temporary solution.

A professional should handle major or multiple minor leaks to ensure proper repair and prevent future issues.

Replace Corroded Pipes

Check for discolouration, flaking, or rust, which are signs of corrosion.

When replacing, consider using corrosion-resistant materials like PVC or copper.

Replacing pipes is a complex task that typically requires the expertise of a plumber.

Upgrade to Larger Pipes

Determine if the existing pipe diameter is adequate for your water needs.

Upgrading to larger pipes can significantly improve water flow and pressure.

This is a major renovation and should be done by professionals.

Adjust the Water Pressure Regulator

Locate the Regulator, usually found where the main water line enters the home.

Turn the adjustment screw clockwise to increase pressure, counterclockwise to decrease.

Avoid over-adjusting, as too high pressure can damage plumbing.

Reduce Water Demand

Avoid using multiple water-intensive appliances simultaneously.

Look to install Flow Restrictors; these can be added to faucets and showerheads to reduce water usage.

Try to use water during off-peak hours when community demand is lower.

Common DIY Fixes for Increasing Water Pressure

Addressing low water pressure can often be managed with some do-it-yourself solutions. Here’s how to tackle some common problems:

Cleaning the Aerator on the Faucet

What is an Aerator? An aerator is a small filter attached to the end of a faucet. It can get clogged with sediment and debris over time, reducing water flow.

Cleaning Process:

  • Remove the Aerator: Unscrew it from the faucet tip. You might need pliers for this.
  • Disassemble and Clean: Separate the parts. Gently clean them using a brush and vinegar to remove any buildup.
  • Reassemble and Test: Put the parts together and screw the aerator onto the faucet. Check if the water pressure has improved.

Checking the Water Pressure Regulator

The water pressure regulator controls the water pressure entering your home. It can fail or become uncalibrated, affecting water pressure.

Steps for checking the Regulator:

  • Find the Regulator: Usually located where the main water line comes into your home.
  • Test with a Pressure Gauge: Attach a pressure gauge to a hose bib after the regulator. Compare the reading to the recommended pressure (usually between 40-60 PSI).

Flushing the Water Heater

Over time, sediment can accumulate in the water heater, affecting water pressure and the heater’s efficiency.

How to flush the water heater:

  • Turn Off the Heater: Turn off the gas valve for gas heaters. For electric, switch off the power.
  • Connect a Hose: Attach a garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the heater.
  • Drain the Tank: Open the drain valve to flush out sediment. Be careful; the water will be hot.
  • Refill the Tank: Close the drain valve, remove the hose, and turn the water supply back on. Ensure the tank is full before turning the heater back on.

Replacing the Water Pressure Regulator

If adjusting the regulator doesn’t fix the pressure issues, it may need to be replaced.

Water Pressure Regulator Replacement Process:

  • Purchase a New Regulator: Ensure it matches your system’s specifications.
  • Shut Off Main Water Supply: This is crucial before starting the replacement.
  • Remove the Old Regulator: Use wrenches to unscrew the fittings. Be prepared for some water spillage.
  • Install the New Regulator: Secure it in place, ensuring all connections are tight.
  • Test the System: Turn the water back on and test with a pressure gauge to ensure proper operation.

When to Hire a Professional to Help

While many water pressure issues can be resolved with DIY methods, certain situations require the expertise of a professional plumber. Here’s when to consider hiring a pro:

Rooter Service to Clean Clogged Pipes

When clogs are deep within the system or too stubborn for household methods, plumbers use specialised rooter tools to remove clogs without damaging pipes effectively. A professional cleaning can not only solve the immediate problem but also extend the life of your plumbing.

Leak Detection and Repair

When leaks are not visible or easily accessible, professionals use specialised equipment like acoustic detectors and thermal imaging cameras to locate hidden leaks.

Plumbers can repair leaks precisely, ensuring no recurrence and preventing potential water damage.

Pipe Replacement

Older homes often have pipes that are corroded or too worn to function properly.

A plumber can assess the condition of your pipes and recommend whether a partial or complete replacement is needed.

Replacing pipes involves adherence to building codes and safety standards, which a professional best handles.

Water Pressure Booster Pump Installation

When low water pressure is a systemic issue due to external factors like community supply, installing a booster pump can help but requires understanding your home’s plumbing and electrical systems.

A professional installation ensures the pump operates efficiently and often comes with a service warranty.