Have you ever come home after a busy day only to find trickling water that’s not enough to let you shower? Or a low flow of water that prevents your family members from using different units at the same time? If your answer is YES, then you must be looking for solutions to fix that problem. Part of the solution is to understand how water pressure affects the plumbing system in your house.
As much as low water pressure will interfere with you and your family’s routine, you must understand that a high pressured one is not any better. High water pressure in your household will damage your plumbing system and also increase your water bill, which is not something you want to experience.
So, what water pressure is ideal for your home? This could be a tough question to answer if you know nothing about water pressure. However, you shouldn’t let this worry you since this guide will take you through everything there is to know about the household water pressure.
What is the Right Water Pressure for Your Home?
First, water pressure is measured in PSI (pounds per square inch). Most people prefer water pressure of 60 PSI. You should, however, note that preferences vary and what is ideal for one family could not be suitable for you. But whatever you choose, ensure it is nothing above 80 PSI nor below 40 PSI. In case you just moved into a new home, and you are not sure what will work well for you, you can always adjust the pressure later on based on your family needs and household usage.
How Can You Test Your Household Water Pressure?
Like most things in your home, your plumbing system also needs regular maintenance. Checking on your water pressure a couple of times in a year is not a hard task and will save you a great deal in the long run. All you need is a pressure gauge or a 1-gallon water bucket then follow these steps;
- Using a Pressure Gauge
- For a correct reading, ensure no water from your plumbing system is being used both inside and outside by shutting off all fixtures that might need water. This includes showerheads, faucets, washing machine and dishwasher.
- Attach the gauge as close to the water meter as possible if the municipality supplies your water. In case your main water supply is a private well, place it close to the pump.
- Tighten the gauge and ensure it is well sealed to get the correct reading
- Use the gauge to determine your water pressure; you should be concerned if it is below 40 PSI or above 80.
- Using a bucket
- First, ensure no one is using any appliance that require water supply to operate.
- Locate a faucet that is closest to the main water supply such as those located in the basement.
- Find a 1-gallon bucket and place it under the faucet.
- Use a watch or timer to time how long it will take to fill the bucket and write it down.
- Convert the results found above to minutes by dividing it by 60. This will give you the flow of water in gallons per minute (GPM).
- Ideal water flow is 6 GPM and will allow you to operate even the larger appliances in your home.
- Water pressure under 6 GPM may interfere with your daily chores and needs to be fixed. You will need to install a pressure regulator if it is above 6GPM to protect your faucets and appliances from damage.
What Could Affect Your Water Pressure?
- Water meter valve
This is probably the last thing you touch in your home mostly because it is located on the street-side of your home’s water meter. If your water pressure is low in all areas of your house, it could mean your water meter has not been fully opened.
The other shut-off valve that could be causing a reduction in your home’s water pressure is the one located where the water meter line enters your home. Depending on where you live, this could be placed on an outside wall, garage or your basement. This valve leads to low water pressure when it is not fully opened.
- Pressure regulator
Most household’s plumbing systems are equipped with pressure regulators to control the pressure of water that is supplied to the home. As you already know, your home needs adequate water pressure to allow you to carry on with your daily chores. The regulator maintains water pressure of between 50 to 80 PSI at any given time.
You can use the valve to increase or reduce the water pressure in case it is too low or too high. You can also replace it by yourself in case of damage or call a professional to handle it for you.
- Plumbing system
Another reason for the low water pressure in your home could be your plumbing system. Clogged or corroded water pipes will prevent water from flowing through leading to a low flow of water to your house meaning it will not be enough to meet every need. Aged pipes could also start leaking, therefore, interfering with the flow of water to your house.
Unfortunately, reduced water pressure caused by old pipes requires you to re-pipe the plumbing system and you should hire a professional plumber but ensure you purchase long-lasting pipes to guarantee you won’t have to worry about replacement costs again for a long time.
Is the trickling water from your showerhead only? This could be as a result of mineral build-up. You will have to take it off and the pipe attached to it for cleaning. The other option will be to buy a new showerhead with good water pressure.
- Peak period
Have you noticed there are times during the day that your water pressure drops? This could be because most water is being used in your neighbourhood during this period compared to other times. You will notice that this mostly happens in the morning hours and during night.
- The height of the water supply
How high is your home’s water supply inlet pipe compared to the main supply? Have in mind that the higher the water pipe is, the lower the water pressure will be and therefore, harder for water to flow through the pipe.
- Distance from the pumping station
How close is your house to the pipes installed along the main water supply? You will receive a high pressured flow of water if your home is close to the pumping station compared to other properties in your neighbourhood.
- Geographic elevation
Is your home located in a low lying region or a high one? If you live in a low lying area, you will be happy to know that your household will receive water with a higher pressure than homes located in high altitudes.
- Where do you live?
The geographical location of your home is also another factor that could affect your household’s water pressure. If you live in a big city, you probably will experience poor water pressure due to a high demand for water from the huge population in the area.
How to Fix Water Pressure Issues
Now that you know which water pressure is right for your household and what could cause it to either rise or drop let’s look at some of the ways you can fix the problems.
- Low water pressure in a particular fixture
As discussed, a drop in water pressure in only one faucet in your home could be as a result of clogging. A simple clean-up can fix reduced water pressure caused by sediment and mineral build-up on your faucets and showerheads.
Use a pair of pliers to unscrew the aerator on the faucet and clean it up. Open the faucet and let water run through to remove sediment in the pipe to ensure no dirt is left behind. You can clean the shower head using the above method. You will also need to replace any broken parts on the faucet.
- Reduced hot water supply
Issues with the water heater mostly cause low water pressure from your hot water taps. Hard water could cause sediment build-up that clogs your water heater or the hot water pipe. You can fix this by flushing the tank and also with regular maintenance.
Replace the hot water supply pipe in case the cause of the reduced water pressure is the size of the pipe being too small to let water through effectively. Look for a water pipe with about 19mm diameter.
A leak on the bottom of the hot water tank or a defective pressure valve could cause low-pressure hot water supply and can be fixed by repairs or replacements.
- Find water leaks and fix them
Water leaks lead to low water pressure and can occur in most places in your home including the toilet, swimming pool, faucets among other fixtures. You will have to detect the leakages in good time and fix them. Also, remember water leaks in your household not only causes a reduction in the water pressure but also damages your walls and floors hence the more reason you should fix them in before it gets to an uncontrollable level.
- Shut-off valve
This is probably the easiest fix for your household’s water pressure. Low pressure caused by a closed shut-off valve needs you to look for the valve and ensure it is fully opened. Check both the outside and inside shut-off valves if your home has two.
- Pressure Reducing Valve (PRV)
Although not all homes have Pressure Reducing Valve (PRV), most households, mostly those located on low ground, have them. As earlier discussed, a PRV is meant to control the level of pressure of the water being supplied to your home. Most units come with a knob at the top that you can use to increase the water pressure in case it is too high or reduce it if it is too high.
Turn the screw clockwise to tighten it to raise your water pressure when it is too low. Loosen it by turning it anticlockwise if the water pressure is too high. Be sure not to turn the dial too much since extremely high pressure will damage your plumbing system. You might also need to replace the valve if it is malfunctioned.
- Replace the old main pipe
If your main supply pipe is steel coated and old, maybe it’s time you got a new one. Mineral build-up or corrosion will clog the galvanized steel pipe over time leading to a reduction in the water pressure. Opt for copper or plastic pipes as opposed to silver or magnetic pipes for extended use.
- Water pressure booster
If you have had issues with your water pressure for long, the problem could be experienced in the entire neighborhood. You can confirm your area’s static water pressure with your water supply company to check whether it is more than 40 PSI. It will be quicker for you to also ask around whether your neighbors are undergoing the same problem as your household. Installing a water pressure booster will help solve this problem.
- Call a plumber
When you have tried all the above, and your water pressure still has issues, let a professional plumber help you. A plumber will efficiently find any blockages or leakages on your plumbing system. You can be sure it will cost you some extra cash, but it will be worth it if you find a qualified one.
Let’s look at situations that will call for a plumber’s attention;
- When you have dripping taps
- Clogged pipe in your sink, bathtub, toilet or drainage system
- Damaged water valve
- Leakages on the plumbing system
What if you own a well?
If you use a private well, your water pressure operates differently from those on the municipal water line. Most individuals use a pump which drives the water into a storage facility such as a tank. Your water pressure will be affected by the power of the water pump. Consider a powerful pump if your home has more than one level. These tanks feature an air-filled rubber bladder which controls the level of pressure in the tank and how it functions.
It is clear that we cannot overlook the importance of having the right flow of water in our homes. Proper water pressure should not be too high to damage your plumbing system nor too low to interfere with your family routine. This will also go a long way to ensuring you can carry on with various chores in your house such as washing dishes, doing laundry, showering and daily cleaning concurrently while maintaining your utility bill at a manageable level.
A basic understanding of your household water pressure will place you a step ahead when it comes to keeping your family happy, the reason our guide ensures you know all it takes regarding this topic. We hope the article will help you know what to do the next time you experience water pressure problems in your home including identifying when to fix the issue by yourself and when to call a plumber.