Everyone has had the experience of turning on a shower head or a sink faucet and getting only a weak trickle of water. It’s one of those small annoyances that can really disrupt your day.
Although low water pressure (or low flow, as it’s sometimes called) might not seem like an emergency situation, you can’t enjoy a normal shower, or wash your dishes properly, until things get fixed. To make matters worse, it’s often unclear what triggered the problem. That’s because there are a number of plumbing issues that can interfere with water flow, and any one of these defects can result in weak pressure. What follows is an overview of the more common causes of water pressure issues, with some tips on how to find relief.
Often, fixtures become blocked by dirt or limestone that tends to collect over time. You can test your fixtures by turning them on and comparing the water pressure coming out of each one. Low pressure in only one fixture frequently indicates that the problem is with that specific fixture. If this is the case, it’s fairly good news for you, because it means that the defect isn’t hidden somewhere deep in your plumbing system—it’s right there in front of you.
Check the aerator (the fitting on the end of your faucet) for dirt or other obstructions. If that doesn’t do the trick, then you may have to remove the faucet completely for cleaning. Many people prefer to get a professional to do this.
In some cases, the problem is due to an obstruction in a water pipe. Corrosion can build up inside a pipe to the point where it causes a noticeable drop in water pressure. This issue, which usually emerges very gradually, is especially common in houses with old galvanized steel pipes, as these are notorious for becoming obstructed with rust. In cases where water pressure drops suddenly, it may be due to a deposit of rust that broke loose and became jammed in a specific area of the pipe.
A clogged pipe is the sort of problem that calls for a professional to perform a proper diagnosis and remediation.
Defective Pressure Regulator
The pressure regulator is generally located in the area where the main water line enters your house. When the regulator goes bad, it can cause the water pressure to drop very dramatically and very quickly. (Sometimes, a regulator failure leads to the opposite problem: unusually high water pressure.) A defective regulator will affect all of your fixtures. Bear in mind, though, that not all homes have a pressure regulator. If you don’t have one, the problem is obviously due to something else.
Regulators can be replaced by shutting off the main water line and putting in a new one of the same model. Again, this is the sort of procedure that many homeowners prefer to leave to a professional, who can confirm that the regulator is indeed the source of your water pressure problems before you commit to any repairs.
Partially Closed Water Valve
You probably have two shut-off valves that manage the flow of water into your home or building: the water meter valve (usually found next to your water meter outdoors) and the main water valve (usually found indoors and next to the main supply line). Sometimes one of these valves just isn’t all the way open, resulting in low household water pressure. The valve often ends up that way after a maintenance job that required turning off the water for a while. If the maintenance person isn’t careful, the valve doesn’t get turned back to a fully open position.
The signs of a partially closed valve depend on the type of system you have. For instance, if it’s operated by a valve handle, it should be completely parallel to the pipe. A handle that is a little “askew” may indicate a valve that is not entirely open.
Understandably, not everyone wants to tinker with their water valves and possibly cause damage to the system. There may also be a legal issue with accessing equipment that is owned by a utility company. Don’t hesitate to contact your plumber if you need help with your water valves.
A leaky pipe can cause low pressure because a lot of water gets wasted before it reaches your fixture. That’s far from the only issue linked to water leaks, however. Leaking pipes can lead to major water damage to the premises, especially if the defect is in a hidden area of your property where the harm isn’t immediately obvious. If your water bill seems a lot higher than it should be—especially if it has suddenly skyrocketed for no apparent reason—you may have a leak.
You can also check the leak indicator/detector on your water meter to see if there is a problem of this nature. First, turn off all devices in your home that use water, then check the indicator for signs of activity.
Finding the specific area where the leak is can be tricky, though. This is yet another job that many prefer to leave to the pros. A trained plumber will be able to replace your defective piping as well.
Contact Roto-Rooter Today
Don’t let water pressure problems get you down—just call Roto-Rooter. Our technicians provide a wide range of plumbing services to commercial and residential customers throughout Ventura County, California. We’ll travel to your location to test your water pressure, inspect the premises for plumbing issues, and perform any needed repairs. We’re available 24/7 to take your call at (805) 620-3700.