Sometimes your water pressure has a mind of its own. From weak morning showers to scalding your hands washing dishes, water pressure problems can quickly complicate things. If any of these issues sound familiar, keep reading for guidance from the experts at Bardi Heating, Cooling & Plumbing on how to fix your water pressure.
Identifying the Cause
Get to the root of the problem. Check for these potential causes:
What to Look For:
If You Have Fixture-Specific Water Pressure Problems:
- Clogged Aerator: On the tip of your faucet is a small mesh screen called an aerator that dilutes the water stream from your faucet with air. Dirt and sediment buildups can clog the aerator and affect your water pressure.
- Clogged Line: Common in older homes that have galvanized piping – a buildup of mineral deposits can clog your line and decrease your water pressure.
- Water Restricting Shower Head: Water restrictors are designed to aid in the conservation of energy and water by reducing the water flow in a shower head to 2.5 gallons per minute. If a restrictor becomes clogged or has a dislodged washer, there will be a resulting decrease in your water pressure.
- Blocked Shower Head: Showerheads accumulate mineral deposits over time from hard water, resulting in a lower flow of water through your showerhead.
- Closed Water Meter Valve: If plumbing work has been done on your system, your valve may not be fully open, resulting in poor water pressure.
- Closed Shutoff Valve or In-Line Valves: If these are not fully open, this may be the reason for water pressure problems in your home.
If You Have Whole-House Water Pressure Problems:
- Closed Water Meter Valve: This should be the first thing you rule out as the source of your water pressure problems.
- Closed Main Shutoff Valve: This valve is usually located inside the house where the main supply pipe enters through the foundation wall. In warmer climates, it may be located outdoors. It should be completely open.
- Problems with Your Water Pressure Regulator: This would more likely contribute to a sudden increase in water pressure.
- Problems with Your Home Water Softener: A water softener can contribute to a decrease in water pressure. Resistance in the resin bed is usually the cause.
If You Have Temperature-Specific Water Pressure Problems:
- Water Heating Temperature is Set Too Low/High: The typical threshold for heater settings is about 120-160 degrees; if you have a dishwasher, you may need to stay in the higher range. For homes without a dishwasher, 120 degrees is ideal.
- Clogged Water Heater or Hot Water Supply Line: Any clogs in your water heater or hot water supply line can easily contribute to temperature-related fluctuations in your water pressure.
- Faulty or Damaged Dial Controls on Shower and Faucet Valves: Dial controls on shower and faucet valves can become loose or corroded over time. This can cause leaks that might lead to a decrease in your water pressure.
- Faulty or Damaged Temperature-Pressure Relief Valve: A faulty or damaged temperature-pressure relief valve can easily foul up water flow to your house and create all kinds of water pressure problems.
*Pro Tip: If your house is on city water, ask your local water department for a pressure reading. Pounds per square inch (PSI) measure water pressure, and an ideal reading should be 45 to 55 PSI.
How to Fix Your Water Pressure:
For Fixture-Specific Water Pressure Problems:
- Check & Clean Your Aerator: Unscrew the aerator with a pair of pliers and rinse off dirt or sediment. Run the faucet for a couple of minutes to dislodge any sediment in the pipe. Soak it in an equal mix of vinegar and water for 3 hours.
- Clean the Stem in Your Faucet: Unscrew the stem retainer nut and pull the stem straight up. (You may need to remove a retaining collar first.) Remove the washer and/or spring at the base of the stem with a screwdriver and rinse off sediment.
- Flush Out Your Faucet: Block the faucet with a cut and turn the water on and off a few times. This should flush out anything causing a clog after you have cleaned your aerator and faucet stem.
- Check & Fix Dislodged Restrictor or Washer: If your showerhead is the problem, remove it and look for a restrictor – a rubber or brass disk – or a washer that has become dislodged.
- Check & Clean Fixture Joints: Clean mineral buildup within a pipe or on the outside of a water fixture at its joints. Soak a clean rag in white vinegar and wrap it around the affected area. Secure the rag with a rubber band and let it sit for an hour.
For Whole-House Water Pressure Problems
- Open Your Main Shutoff Valve: Find your master shutoff valve near your water meter and open it completely.
- Adjust Your Pressure Regulator Valve: This bell-shaped valve lies where the line enters the building. Turn the screw or knob at the top of the valve clockwise to increase water pressure.
- Test Your Water Softener: Set your home water softener to “bypass.” Improved water pressure means it is time to clean out your resin bed.
- Invest in a Water Pressure Booster for Your Home: A water pressure booster increases the pressure of water coming into your home with an electric pump. Hire a local plumbing expert to install this pump.
For Temperature-Specific Water Pressure Problems
- Open the Shutoff Valve to Your Water Heater Tank: On all water heaters, there is a shut-off valve on the cold water supply. On many, there is an additional shut-off valve on the hot water supply. Make sure both valves are completely open.
- Tighten the Dial Controls/Handles: Tighten any loose handles on shower or faucet fixtures by turning the handle screw clockwise. The screw will require a flat/Philips screwdriver or a six-sided hex-style wrench.
- Replace Your Temperature & Pressure Relief Valve: This is one of the simpler DIY plumbing projects that can be done by completing the following steps:
- Shut off the cold water and gas or electricity. Drain water from the tank; the goal is to drain it below the level in the tank.
- Raise the lever on the valve to release excess pressure.
- If your valve has a copper pipe attached to it, unscrew it. Loosen the valve by turning it counter-clockwise with a wrench.
- Put pipe-thread tape on the threads of the new T&P valve and screw it in, turning it clockwise.
- Finally, tighten the new T&P valve with a wrench and turn your cold-water supply and gas or electricity back on.
Call a Professional
You now know what to look for and how to fix your water pressure. Now, how can you be sure that your troubles are behind you? Contact a Bardi Heating, Cooling & Plumbing professional! Our knowledgeable experts are here to help you with any of your cooling, heating, or plumbing needs.