Experiencing low water pressure in your home can be very frustrating, affecting everyday activities like washing dishes and showering. It can also damage appliances like dishwashers and water heaters. This is because some home appliances require that your water pressure is in a specific range to operate correctly. You may be about to fix some causes of low water pressure. However, you probably need to contact a professional plumber to solve more serious problems.
Main Water Valve Issues
If you are experiencing low water pressure, you can first check your main water valve to ensure it is fully open. Your incoming water line usually comes through the foundation near the front side of your home. Follow this pipe up to the water meter. Your main water valve will be between the meter and your house and has a red or green handle. This valve is open when the handle is parallel to the water pipe.
Sometimes, valves can become partially closed over time due to rust or debris buildup. If your main water valve is difficult to turn, it is probably a good idea to call a professional plumber to deal with it. Forcing the valve open could result in a broken valve and a major water leak.
Faulty Pressure Regulator
Pressure regulators are designed to maintain steady water pressure throughout your home. It’s often found after the main shutoff valve and before the pipes that branch out to various areas of your house. The regulator is recognizable by its adjustable screw that allows you to control the pressure setting. It also often has a pressure meter attached to it. You may be able to restore the water pressure to normal by adjusting the screw on your regulator.
If you are uncomfortable making the adjustment or turning the screw does not restore water pressure, it’s best to consult a professional plumber. If the regulator is still operational but not performing well, the plumber may be able clean and lubricate its internal components to solve the problem.
A plumber will recommend a replacement if the pressure regulator is beyond repair. Replacing a pressure regulator requires shutting off the main water supply, removing the old regulator, and installing a new one. This process involves cutting and soldering pipes, so you should be prepared to be without water for several hours.
Clean Clogged Faucet Aerators
If your low water pressure issue is limited to a faucet in the bathroom or kitchen, the problem could be the aerator. Mineral deposits can accumulate in aerators over time, causing a restriction in water flow. To address this, unscrew the aerator from the faucet, soak it in vinegar for a few hours to dissolve the deposits, and then rinse it thoroughly before reattaching it. If this does not solve the issue, there may be other problems with your fixture that will need to be addressed by a plumber.
Leaks Under Sinks
Another cause for low water pressure limited to a single fixture may be an issue with the plumbing underneath it. If you see water dripping from these pipes, most sinks have a dedicated shut-off valve that you can use to stop the water. You should also turn on the faucet to drain any remaining water and can use a bucket to catch any residual drips.
When you contact a plumber, they will examine the source of the leak to determine the cause and extent of the issue. The fix may be as simple as tightening a fitting to eliminate the dripping. Alternatively, they may need to seal connections with caulk to solve the problem, especially around areas like where the base of the faucet and countertop meet. A more severe issue could involve replacing a faulty valve or supply line.
Hidden Plumbing Leaks
If you notice a drop in water pressure throughout your home, it can signal a serious leak. Some leaks are easy to detect. A leak behind a wall will result in water spots on the drywall or brown staining. Unfortunately, many leaks are more difficult to spot. For instance, slab leaks can be tough to find as these occur underneath the house’s foundation.
If you suspect a leak is the culprit behind low water pressure in your home, you can use your water meter to confirm your suspicions. Most meters have a leak detection dial. The dial is usually a triangle or snowflake shape and may be red or black. To check for a leak, turn off all your plumbing fixtures. If the dial is still spinning after you have confirmed no water is running in your home, you can be reasonably certain you have a serious leak somewhere in your plumbing system.
Even if you notice obvious signs of a leak or use your water meter to determine that you have one, you often can not pinpoint its location without the help of a plumber. Plumbers have several options to find a leak in your home.
They will often use microphones to detect the sound of water running or dripping under your foundation or inside your walls. Or they may use thermal cameras to look through your ceilings or floor. With this technology, they can detect warm or cold spots outside your home’s water lines.
Unfortunately, repairing a leak in a wall usually requires the plumber to cut a hole in your drywall. They will then cut out the damaged section of your plumbing and replace it. For a pipe leaking under your foundation, a plumber may recommend rerouting your plumbing. This is because digging up your floor to repair the issue may not be practical.
If you have low pressure throughout your home that is not caused by a leak, a main water valve problem, or a regulator issue, clogged supply lines are likely the culprit. Over time, mineral deposits and sediment can accumulate within the pipes that bring water into your home.
Before diving into the cleaning process, plumbers begin with a thorough inspection of your pipes. This assessment helps them determine the extent of the buildup and identify any areas of concern. Inspection methods may include visual examination, video camera inspection, or pressure testing to assess flow rates.
This assessment also lets them know if hydro jetting will be a safe cleaning method. Hydro jetting involves using a high-pressure stream of water to scour the inside of pipes. The pressure can range from 1,500 to 4,000 PSI (pounds per square inch), which can break down tough mineral deposits and debris. Hydro jetting is highly effective and safe for most types of pipes, including PVC, copper, and cast iron. However, if your pipes have deteriorated to the point where this cleaning method is not viable, your plumber may suggest replacing some or all of your plumbing.
Contact the Professionals
At Davis & Green, we have been serving the residents of Richmond, VA since 1984. We are expert plumbers and also install, maintain, and repair heating and cooling systems. Because we strive to provide our customers with all the home services they need, we can also deal with any electrical issues you may have, including rewiring older homes.
Contact Davis & Green today to solve your low water pressure issue or for any other plumbing, HVAC, and electrical needs.