Common Causes of Reduced Water Pressure In Homes
One of the most frustrating plumbing issues homeowners can face is low water pressure - not because it’s terribly disruptive (although it certainly can be) but because it can be so difficult to identify what’s causing it.
Temporary reductions in water pressure might be explained by too many faucets and fixtures being in use at one time, but when the problem persists, it can leave homeowners scratching their heads. But every plumbing problem has its cause, and it’s just a matter of tracking it down. This article will discuss three of the most common causes of low water pressure - and what to do about them.
One of the most insidious low water pressure causes is a pipe leak. Since the water in a home’s supply lines is constantly under pressure for rapid delivery to fixtures, some pressure will escape through any opening it can get. This means there will be less pressure (and less water) when it reaches the fixtures. A slow leak due to corrosion or a loose pipe fitting can go undetected for months, especially if it’s hidden underground or behind a wall, making this both a nuisance and a potentially costly problem.
The good news, in this case, is that the low water pressure may be the clue that alerts homeowners to the leak, allowing them to fix it before it causes more damage. The solution here is to schedule professional leak detection to find and fix the source of a leak.
Mineral Buildup and Clogs
Another common cause of decreased water pressure is a pipe clog or obstruction. Bits of rust or other debris can build up over time and form a blockage inside the pipes, restricting water flow. This is particularly common in older homes with aging or corroded pipes.
Another form of this is when mineral deposits from hard water collect on the pipe's walls, effectively reducing its diameter and constricting the water’s movement. This is a fairly common problem in Pennsylvania and other regions with hard water. One telltale sign of a clogged or mineral-coated pipe is if the water pressure is normal when the faucet is first opened, but the flow gets weaker as water continues to come out.
Fixing buildup or clogs in the water supply lines is best left to a professional plumber. In some cases, the pipes can be flushed (which is no small undertaking), but in the case of severe mineral deposits or pipe corrosion, lines may need to be replaced.
Closed Valves and Faulty Fixtures
In some cases, low water pressure throughout the home may simply result from a valve being fully or partially closed. This often occurs after a repair technician or utility company representative shuts off the home's water. Two common culprits are the water meter valve (located in or near the water meter box) and the home’s main shutoff valve (typically found in a basement, garage, or exterior wall where the water main enters the house). Homeowners can simply turn these to the fully opened position and see if that has any effect.
A faulty water pressure regulator (usually located just downstream of the water meter or main shutoff valve) may also cause low water pressure in the entire home. But if only one fixture has low pressure, the fixture itself is likely faulty or clogged with mineral deposits (fairly common with older fixtures). For instance, if there’s the low water pressure in the shower, but the bathroom sink has normal pressure, it’s probably time to replace that showerhead.
Homeowners may be able to tackle a showerhead or faucet replacement themselves, but replacing the home’s pressure regulator will require a professional. Even if the fixture replacement is a DIY fix, it’s still a good idea to schedule a professional inspection to determine if a larger issue like hard water deposits or corrosion was to blame for the fixture’s failure to ensure the underlying cause is being addressed.
About G.F. Bowman, Inc.
G.F. Bowman, Inc. is a family-owned and operated business with over 55 years of experience serving Harrisburg, PA, and the surrounding areas. They provide upfront pricing, on-time arrival, and fast service. Call them today for plumbing services in Harrisburg, PA.