My water pressure is low, what could be the cause?
Among the common signs of low water pressure is when your shower only trickles when you turn on the knob. The faucet will slow down to a dribble, and water will not even come up in your bathroom on the second floor.
However, if you want to use science to check the water pressure, you can purchase a pressure gauge online or from a local hardware store. Make sure to turn off all faucets and water flow before getting your baseline pressure. In Vancouver, the water pressure for residential homes should be between 50 and 80 psi. Anything more than that will damage your pipes and appliances.
Once you determine that your water pressure is lower than the standard, you might be wondering about the possible cause. Here are some of them:
- Mineral and debris buildup — Some of the water in your tap is collected from snowmelt and rainfall. Filtration will remove the heavy particles while the treatment process will ensure that the tap water is safe to drink. Typically, they use chlorine to disinfect the water. Chlorine is also used to clean a swimming pool, but the amount found in your water is too small to be harmful to people and pets. However, calcium deposits, debris, and other minerals will stick to the pipes over time. The debris will enter through the fractures and cracks in the pipes. These foreign objects will clog the artery and shrink the opening for the water to flow through.
- Corrosion — Steel and galvanized pipes are prone to corrosion. They are designed to last for about 20 years, which means they will still serve their purpose of delivering water to your homes. But it does not mean that the insides of the pipes are not corroded. You may need to replace your piping system, preferably with harder plastic pipes, which are corrosion-free. Another advantage of PEX pipes is that they are very easy to fix and replace.
- Main shut-off valves — Your home’s plumbing system is controlled by the main shut-off valve that can be found next to the meter. Normally, you do not touch this valve, but some rowdy kids may play with it without your knowledge, or if you have just called in the plumber who may have overlooked to fully open the valve.
- Faulty pressure regulator — Not all homes are equipped with a pressure regulator, which works precisely as it sounds. The attachment is a safety mechanism to reduce the water pressure in your home. While the minimum measurement for water pressure in a home is 50 psi, water will flow in your tap on the pressure of less than 20 psi. A damaged regulator can result in one of two things: it accelerates or slows down the water pressure. Whereas corrosion and sediment buildup takes time, the impact of a faulty pressure regulator is sudden. When it is damaged, you will immediately feel the effects. You need to call in a plumber to replace the component, although it is a straightforward fix as long as you have the correct replacement parts.
- Faulty fixtures — If the water pressure is only noticeable on certain faucets, then the fixtures might be outdated and need replacing. There might be some debris buildup or rust inside the fixture that prevents the water from gushing freely. You may also notice some foreign objects when you open a specific faucet. It could be rust, small pebbles, sand, and other sediments. Try opening the other faucets if you can find similar heavy particles. If not, then it is obvious that you need to replace the fixture right away.
- Clogging — An obstruction will obviously reduce the flow of water in your tap as it will choke the opening. You can use a cleaning agent or vinegar to clear the buildup. In some cases, you may need to replace the aerator.
Also, if you notice that the water pressure is low only when you use the water heater, it could be temperature-related. Check if the shut-off valve in your water heater is fully open. If the lever is already maxed out, then you should call in a professional to resolve the problem.
Low water pressure is not only annoying, but it can also be expensive, especially if you need to repipe the entire plumbing system that is already corroded by rust. Unfortunately, there is no other way around it since low water pressure will significantly disrupt your day-to-day task like taking a shower, washing the dishes, or doing the laundry.