Common Causes of Low Water Pressure

November 4, 2021

Low water pressure can be caused by a partially opened shutoff valve, failing pressure regulator, clogged or corroded pipes, and more. We provide solutions!

You go to turn on your sink or bathtub faucet but the water barely comes out. Your dishwasher and washing machine are taking much longer than usual to run through their cycle. 

Looks like you may have low water pressure!

But before we dive into the reasons for low water pressure it’s important to first determine how widespread your issues are. For example, if your water flow problems are only happening with your bathroom faucet then it’s probably safe to say that the problem is with that fixture alone. However, if water pressure issues are happening all over your home then a different approach is needed!

Let’s talk about the common causes of low water pressure throughout your home or business:

1. Your Water Supplier is Experiencing Issues

Before you decide to spend the time and effort figuring out the cause of your water pressure problems ask your neighbors if they are experiencing anything similar. Chances are, if your neighbors are experiencing the same thing, then it’s not something happening specifically to your home.

You can also contact your water supplier directly and see if there is any maintenance or new construction taking place. If they are in the process of fixing something you will have to hold tight until their work is completed.

2. The main shutoff valve isn’t open all the way

Once you’ve determined that the issue is only happening with your home, it’s time for a closer inspection.

We will first turn to the main shutoff valve, a valve that controls the flow of water into your home. As a homeowner, it’s important to know how to find your home’s main shut-off valve in case of emergency or repairs. It is typically located inside the house, near where the main city supply pipe enters the home through the foundation walls. In warmer climates, it might also be located outdoors.

Once you’ve located the valve, make sure it’s completely opened. This can look different depending on the type of valve your home’s shutoff has. If you have a gate valve (a wheel-like handle) make sure it’s turned completely in the counterclockwise direction. If you have a ball valve (a lever handle), make sure that it’s turned so that it’s parallel to the pipe it’s attached to. 

The main shutoff valve can sometimes be left partially open after repairs have been done to the home or plumbing system. If you find that you have reduced water pressure after repairs have been completed, a partially opened valve may be the culprit.

3. Partially opened water meter valve

You might be asking, what’s a water meter valve? Similar to the main shutoff valve, it’s a valve that controls the water intake toward your home. The difference being, this valve belongs to the city and is attached to a system that monitors water usage, so residents should never need to interact with this valve.

That being said, if you’ve recently had work done in your home and as a result are noticing a reduction in water pressure, you may want to consider contacting your water company. Sometimes the valve will be left partially open after the work was completed and someone will need to come in and open it completely.

4. The pressure regulator is failing

Not all plumbing systems are equipped with a pressure regulator. If you don’t have one, this solution isn’t right for you.

If you do have one, you can check the health of your pressure regulator by comparing it to your own independent reading. You can do this by attaching a water pressure gauge to your hose spigot. Turn the water on and the pressure gauge will give you a reading of the current water pressure.

If the reading from your pressure gauge is lower than your pressure regulator, you just might have just found the cause of your water pressure issues. Regulators are specifically designed to adjust the pressure coming from the city’s water supply line to a level that is safe for your pipes and fixtures. If it’s not reading then the regulator is most likely giving a reading that seems like it’s functioning properly when in reality it’s letting through a low pressure.

You can perform your own pressure regulator replacement but it’s advisable to call in a plumber, especially if you are unfamiliar with plumbing.

5. The Pipes Are Clogged

You might be surprised to learn that clogs don’t just happen along the initial sections of pipe leading from your fixtures. They can actually form deep down the length of your piping system and can cause the water pressure to reduce. 

Because these types of clogs can occur anywhere in your system this is a time you’re going to want to call in a plumber to assess the situation. A good plumber will know exactly what to look for without damaging or knocking loose anything that could contaminate your pipes. 

6. The Pipes Are Corroded 

Is your house older? Do you know what type of piping your house has?

If you have an older home, a potentially serious and expensive reason for low water pressure can be when old galvanized steel water pipes have corroded to the point where water flow is severely blocked. Galvanized pipes have an expiration date of about 20 years before corrosion sets in. Compare that to copper pipes which usually last about 50 or more years and brass piping which lasts for about 40 to 70 years.

This is a subtle issue that develops over the course of decades, so the reduction might not be noticed until it becomes a big problem like low water pressure. That’s why this is something to consider if you are moving into an old house with steel pipes, it might not be long before you’ll be replacing your pipes!

The only solution for corroded pipes is to perform an entire repipe of the system with new copper or plastic water supply piping. Unfortunately, this is the only way to resolve this problem. Typically the best option available for re-piping in both cost and installation is to use PEX tubing over copper piping.

What Our Team Can Do To Increase Water Pressure

While we’ll leave the phone calls to water suppliers up to you. We are always available 24 hours a day, every day of the week should you need help with your water pressure or general plumbing system.

We always perform a careful assessment of the situation before going into a new project. If the situation calls for it, we’ll send down our fiber-optic video line to find out exactly what is happening with your pipes before rendering any repairs or cleaning. Through our 35 years of experience and detailed inspections, you can guarantee that our team will only perform the services you need!

There are many plumbing companies that would be more than happy to go straight to pipe replacement to solve piping issues. At B&B Plumbing, Inc. we always present the most cost-effective options. For instance, pipe relining is a great solution for pipes that are having internal issues but are not candidates for replacement just yet. At a low cost, it saves you money and gets your plumbing back in order.

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