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Why Do I Have Low Water Pressure?

Hand under faucet with low pressure water stream - Jarboe's Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling

When water pressure is low in your Louisville home, it becomes difficult to get things done comfortably, from bathing to chores. Whether low water pressure starts suddenly or develops over time, numerous plumbing issues could be to blame. 

Thankfully, with a good plumber on your team, low water pressure is easily solved! The licensed Louisville plumbers of Jarboe’s Plumbing, Heating & Cooling share the causes of low water pressure, how to troubleshoot them, and when to call us for help. If you need plumbing repairs to restore proper water pressure in your home, contact us today.

The Purpose of Water Pressure

The water coming into your home is pressurized to allow it to travel from the source, to your home, and through your plumbing lines. Louisville homes connected to a municipal water source receive water that is pressurized, often by a water tower that takes advantage of its altitude to move water. For homes with private wells, you also have a pressure tank – water is pumped from the well to the pressure tank, then placed under pressure to move throughout your plumbing system.

Residential water pressure levels are ideal at 45 to 55 psi (pounds per square inch), though it’s not unusual for home water pressure to go up to 80 psi. It varies based on the amount of water demanded across the entire municipality at any given time, how far your house is from the source, and other factors.

If your home’s water pressure dips down to 40 psi, low water pressure becomes an issue. You definitely start to experience the issues that low water pressure causes when it drops to 30 psi and below. When water pressure is low, it feels like less water comes from your taps, making it difficult to shower and complete household chores. On the other hand, it’s not good if water pressure reaches too high, as this stresses your plumbing and causes leaks as well as damage.

Why Do I Have Low Water Pressure?

The issues that create low water pressure in the home come from the municipal source or within your home. Issues affecting the municipal water supply, such as a broken water main, cause pressure to drop throughout the entire area served by those lines. You just have to sit back and wait until your utility provider implements a fix for good water pressure to return.

Issues specific to your home, household, and plumbing system also create the problem of low water pressure. Some are relatively minor and are resolved with some troubleshooting and other adjustments, while others require plumbing repair

The common reasons homes in Louisville experience low water pressure include:

  • Water demand is too high
  • Shut-off valve errors
  • Issues with fixtures
  • Issues with pressure regulator
  • Undersized branch lines
  • Clogs and corrosion in pipes

Water Demand Is Too High

Does it seem like water pressure is just fine when you’re the only one using water? When more people or appliances use water at the same time, does water pressure drop? This is a common issue homeowners face in a busy household.

There is only so much water coming into your home. When one water-using application is on, all water is directed there; when other applications are in use at the same time, water supply is split between them all. This makes it feel like your application’s water pressure is low, and other users notice the same issue.

Luckily, this low water pressure problem goes away as taps and appliances turn off. The solution here is to rethink how your household consumes water and better schedule its consumption. Only run the dishwasher or washing machine during off hours where no one needs to shower. Try to avoid multiple people using different showers at the same time.

Shut-off Valve Errors

Your home’s main shut-off valve allows water into your home. Different fixtures have individual shut-off valves that control water through the application. These valves have to be completely open when in use or else the partially closed valve blocks water movement, creating low water pressure. 

If you experience low water pressure, it’s wise to check your shut-off valves. If low water pressure affects the entire home, check the main shut-off valve and ensure it is fully open. It is located outside the home near the hose bib or inside within a utility closet in most cases. If low water pressure affects just one application, check the dedicated shut-off valve for that fixture, which is typically located just below or behind it.

If your valves are stuck or look like they have sustained damage, call your plumber as they may need to be replaced.

Issues with Fixtures

Water moving through your home carries minerals, which fall out of suspension and settle into your fixtures. As time goes on, these deposits mount and cause blockages within the fixture that prevent water from freely flowing. When you experience low water pressure from just a tap or two throughout the home, this is a likely cause.

Troubleshooting in this case requires removing those deposits as best as possible:

  • Take off showerheads and brush away mineral deposits that have built up within the fixture.
  • If your showerhead uses a filter, remove and clean this component also.
  • Soak your showerhead in a bowl of white vinegar overnight to loosen and remove deposits. Rinse it with water and scrub off any remaining deposits before reinstalling the showerhead.
  • Remove sink aerators and clean off mineral deposits with a brush, or replace with a fresh aerator.

Some showerheads are manufactured with a flow restrictor, which is designed to lower the amount of water used by the fixture. This is helpful for conservation but causes low water pressure when the home is already prone to this issue. The flow restrictor is removable – take it out by following the user manual’s instructions to improve water pressure from the showerhead.

Other water-using appliances and systems within the home create water pressure issues when they malfunction. Whole-house filtration systems and water softeners may experience system issues, but since the home’s water supply moves through these pieces of equipment, water pressure is impacted.

Avoid low water pressure by bypassing the water softener or filtration system until repairs are performed. The equipment’s user manual offers instructions on how to bypass the system.

Issues with Pressure Regulator

Some home plumbing systems in Louisville are equipped with a pressure regulator. This is a plumbing system component that keeps water pressure within a certain range. When issues arise affecting the pressure regulator, you notice water pressure in your home becomes too high or too low. Signs of a pressure regulator issue include:

  • Water comes out of taps at either high or low pressure, but there is no in-between.
  • Water used to come out of taps at the right pressure but now it’s too high or too low.

If your home has a pressure regulator, adjustments to this component are a possible solution to your low water pressure issue. The pressure regular sits below the front hose connection and is shaped like a bell. There’s a screw at its tip – tighten it to increase water pressure or loosen it to lower water pressure. If adjusting the screw doesn’t restore proper water pressure, have your plumber inspect the pressure regulator to determine if replacement is necessary.

Undersized Branch Lines

Water supply lines that stem from the home’s vertical stack pipe are called branch lines. The branch lines feed water into the various rooms of your home that use water. When new water-using appliances are added to the home or new fixtures that increase the home’s water demand, the branch lines may not be wide enough to provide an effective supply of water. Their size then restricts water flow which leads to low water pressure.

If you added appliances or fixtures to the home and now experience low water pressure, have your plumber assess your water supply lines. It may be necessary to upgrade branch lines to wider pipes to accommodate your water-using applications without sacrificing water pressure.

Clogs and Corrosion in Pipes

Just like with your home’s fixtures, the plumbing supply lines experience mineral buildup over time. This buildup eventually is large enough to clog the line and restrict water movement through it. Corrosion also affects metal water lines which restricts the inner space and stops water from flowing properly.

Clogs and corrosion vary in severity. This issue may affect only a single section of your plumbing system or be widespread, affecting the entire system. Your plumber is able to use camera equipment to look into the lines to assess the problem. Cleaning may be possible to remove this buildup from the lines, or it may be necessary to replace portions of your piping, or upgrade your entire plumbing system.

Solve Low Water Pressure Problems with Jarboe’s

When you experience low water pressure at home that isn’t resolved by troubleshooting, it’s time to call Jarboe’s to schedule plumbing repairs. We dispatch our licensed plumbers right away to pinpoint and fix the issues affecting your water pressure.

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