When things are going well, you might not put much thought into your home’s water pressure. After all, it’s easy to take water pressure for granted—until you’re dealing with trickling water in the shower or other problems. To help avoid the negative effects of low, or high, water pressure, here’s how you can make sure your water pressure is just right.
In general, residential water pressure ranges between 45-80 psi (pounds per square inch). If your water pressure is under 40 psi, it’s considered low. A psi between 20-30 is considered very low, and under the minimum water pressure required by most building codes.
On the other side of the spectrum, water pressure above 80 psi is considered too high. Both extremely low and extremely high water pressure pose their fair share of risks and problems. Low water pressure can lead to poor performance and efficiency from any appliance in your home that uses water. High water pressure can damage pipes, joints, and fixtures, and waste a lot of water in the process.
While water pressure refers to the amount of force that moves water throughout pipes and taps, functional flow refers to the volume of water that arrives at individual fixtures. In other words, your water pressure can be adequate, but if you have poor functional flow, you may still experience problems with trickling water in showers or sinks that take a long time to fill. Causes of poor functional flow include:
Depending on the underlying cause, you may need to replace your pipes in order to fix problems with functional flow.
Measuring your home’s water pressure is easy, and only requires a few key tools. First, you’ll need a pressure gauge. You can find this at most hardware stores—just make sure you pick one that measures in psi. Second, you’ll need a pair of tongue and groove pliers, or a large adjustable wrench, to help you tighten the gauge onto the faucet you’re testing.
Once you have your tools ready, it’s time to find your testing location. In most cases, this will be the outdoor hose faucet connected to your home. If you have well water, choose whatever faucet is closest to the well’s pressure tank.
Before testing, make sure there’s no water running inside or outside your home. That means no dishwashers, washing machines, sprinklers, refrigerators, showers, or sinks. If any water is running during the test, it may skew the results. This is because a pressure gauge is meant to measure static water pressure, which requires that water not be moving throughout the plumbing system.
If there’s a hose attached to the faucet, remove it. Then, install the pressure gauge onto the faucet. You can use the rubber gasket inside the gauge to hand-tighten and get a strong seal. If not, you can use the pliers or wrench you brought along. In order to get an accurate reading, you’ll need a good seal with no leaks. If there are any leaks during the test, stop the water and tighten the gauge again.
Turn the faucet all the way on and observe the pressure results on the gauge’s dial. If the reading is between 40-80 psi, your water pressure is normal. But, if the reading indicates low or high water pressure, you have a few options. For low water pressure, you can troubleshoot the root of the problem before calling a plumber. For high water pressure, you can call a plumber and inquire about having regulator installed to bring the psi back down to normal range.
If you suspect your home has low water pressure, and a pressure test confirms it, the next step is to try to fix the underlying problem. Common causes of low water pressure in the kitchen sink, shower, and more can often be identified and fixed with ease, without the help of a plumber. When it comes to low water pressure, you’ll need to answer the following questions:
If only one of your faucets or showerheads has low water pressure, the problem likely lies with the fixture itself. Common causes include limescale deposits built up in the showerhead, or a clogged aerator in the sink. You can clean both with a mix of water and white vinegar to scrub away limescale buildup.
The easiest way to confirm a leak is to check the leak indicator located on your water meter. Generally, you’ll find your water meter in front of your house near the front curb, in a concrete box marked “water.” The leak indicator may look like a small triangular dial. If the dial is moving, there’s a leak.
If you don’t have a leak indicator, there’s another easy way to figure out if the leak is located in your main water line. First, shut off all faucets and water in your home and make note of the reading shown on your water meter. Wait two hours and read the meter again. If the meter reading increased, you’re dealing with a leak.
If every fixture in your home is plagued by low water pressure, check to make sure your main shut-off valve isn’t partially closed. Sometimes, the valve may not be re-opened completely following a plumbing repair. The main shut-off valve may be located underground near the street, or in your garage, basement, or crawlspace. If you can’t locate it, you can ask a plumber to find it for you.
Things like neighborhood construction, utility water line maintenance, and other service interruptions can temporarily reduce your water pressure as well. In that case, you can check with your utility company to see if the pressure loss you’re experiencing is normal, and when normal pressure will be restored.
Whether you’re tired of dealing with low water pressure or have other plumbing questions, turn to Chas Roberts for expert service you can trust. We’ve served families throughout the Valley for over 75 years, and we’d love the opportunity to help with any and all of your plumbing needs. Contact us and count on our knowledgeable technicians to make things right.