If you've had your morning shower ruined by a slow-flowing shower head or have begun to notice that your clothes or dishes just aren't getting as clean as usual, you may be dealing with reduced water pressure. In addition to interfering with your daily activities, low water pressure can be an expensive problem if it's due to a water leak somewhere in your home. Fortunately, in many cases, low water pressure can be easily fixed with just a few minutes of work. Read on to learn more about some of the most common causes of low water pressure and what you can do to diagnose and repair the issue.
Common Causes of Low Water Pressure
Low water pressure can come on suddenly, often due to a water main leak, or it may be a more gradual issue. Determining the cause of low water pressure in your home will often involve identifying which faucets are affected and how long the problem has been going on.
Some of the most common causes of reduced water pressure include:
- A water main leak outside your home
- A leaking pipe inside your home
- Lime-scale buildup on the inside of your faucet or showerhead that prevents water from freely flowing
- A shut-off valve that's been inadvertently bumped closed
Additionally, if you notice low hot water pressure but seem to have normal cold water pressure, you may be dealing with lime scale buildup or other issues in your water heater.
Diagnosing and Fixing Low Water Pressure
Your first step should be to figure out exactly where the problem is and how many of your home's water sources are being affected. Test the hot and cold water pressure in each bathroom (including flushing the toilet and testing the shower), kitchen, and any outdoor faucets. If the water pressure problem seems to be a global one, you're more likely to be looking at a water main break or shut-off valve issue. On the other hand, if your low water pressure is confined to one area of the home (or even one faucet), it's a good idea to focus further diagnostic and repair efforts on that specific area.
Check your shut-off valve, which is often in the basement or under a main sink, to ensure that it's not turned off. Nudging or bumping this valve can sometimes partially restrict the flow of water, preventing your faucets from operating at capacity. If the shut-off valve seems to be in order, and if you've checked your utility website to ensure there hasn't been a reported water main break in your area, you'll want to inspect the interior and exterior of your home for any visible leakage, and then contact a plumber.
On the other hand, if your water pressure is limited to one faucet, try soaking it in a mixture of white vinegar and water and then scrubbing it with an old toothbrush. This is often enough to remove lime scale from the surface and clear out any clogs that could be restricting water flow. By ensuring your faucets flow cleanly, you'll reduce the risk of a future water leak.