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Why Is Your Water Pressure Low?

Updated on October 20, 2016

Low water pressure is an annoying phenomenon most people struggle with from time to time, Diagnosing the problem can be difficult, as it can have multiple causes. This simple troubleshooting guide can help you determine the cause.

Debris or Mineral Buildup in Pipes

Pipes can accumulate sediment over time that lessens the force of the water. This is a common cause of low water pressure. If you have low water pressure that occurs mainly in one location, mineral buildup is the most likely culprit. Remove the faucet or aerator and examine it for buildup. Most mineral deposits can be removed by soaking the faucet overnight in a 1:1 water-vinegar solution. If that doesn't work, replacement faucets are an inexpensive solution.

PRV and Shut-off Valves

If the water pressure to your entire home is low, check the PRV (Pressure Reducing Valve) and main water shut off valves. The PRV is shaped like a bell and usually located where the water line enters the home. Adjust the screw on valve - turning it clockwise should increase your water pressure, and turning it counter-clockwise should decrease it. The valve may be malfunctioning and need to be replaced. Also check the main water shut-off valve. If it has been turned even slightly, turn it until it is completely open and test your water pressure again.

Water Leaks

Even small leaks can reduce pressure throughout the home. The most common area to have a leak is at the toilet. Run this simple check at each toilet in your home: remove the lid from the tank and add a few drops of food coloring. Do not flush for half an hour. If color leaks into the toilet bowl, your toilet is leaking and the flapper mechanism needs to be replaced.

Another place to check if there are hidden leaks on your property is the water meter. Turn off all running water in your home and check the meter. If the indicator gear is turning, you definitely have a leak. If it is not, you may still have a slow leak. Write down the numbers on the meter, leave all water sources off for at least an hour and see if the numbers have changed. If they have, you have a leak and should call a plumber or your water company to investigate.

Hot Water Heater Problems

If water pressure is low only when you run hot water, the culprit is your water heater. The first thing to check is the water heater shut-off valve. If it is turned even a little, it can greatly reduce the flow of water from the heater. This is the most common cause of low water pressure from the water heater. Other problems with water pressure from a water heater are more serious and require professional assistance to resolve.

Municipal Problems

Sometimes, low water pressure is not caused by any problems on your property at all, but by problems with your town or municipality. Check with your neighbors – are they experiencing low pressure too? Contact your water company and ask about the issue and when they expect it will be resolved.


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