Home water pressure problems may present themselves in different ways, all of which can be quite frustrating. Faucets may take forever to fill a sink or bathtub, or a shower head may not give you that strong spray you want.
When only one fixture has low water pressure, it's likely that the problem can be remedied if you just focus on fixing that one fixture. However, there are various broader plumbing issues that can affect the water pressure to your entire house. If your home water pressure seems low, then the first thing to do is to narrow down the cause.
Here are four places to consider as reasons for low water pressure throughout your home:
Is the Water Meter Valve Fully Open?
In many homes, there are two major shut-off valves controlling water to the home. The first is the water meter valve, found on the street-side of your water meter. Normally you will not be using this valve, as technically it belongs to the city and it's usually only city utility workers who handle it. But if your water pressure is low throughout your house, especially after some work has been done on your plumbing system, it's possible this first valve is not fully opened.
Is the Main Shut-Off Valve Open?
On the homeowner side of the water meter, there is a main shut-off valve. It usually will be located on an outside wall where the main water line enters your home, or sometimes in a utility area like a garage or basement. Often it enters the home near where the water heater is located. Make sure this valve is fully open. If this is a gate valve, make sure the handle is turned fully in the counterclockwise direction. If it is a ball valve with a lever handle, the handle should be parallel to the pipe direction to be fully open.
Is the Pressure Regulator Failing?
Another common cause for home water pressure problems can be the pressure regulator--if your home plumbing system is equipped with one. A pressure regulator is a control valve that reduces the input pressure in your plumbing system to a safe level that will not damage your pipes. Not all homes have them, but for those that do, a failing pressure regulator can cause a serious upward spike in water pressure--but it can also have the opposite effect: a sudden reduction in your water pressure.
Does Your Plumbing System Need to Be Replaced?
The most serious and potentially expensive reason for low water pressure occurs when old plumbing pipes finally have become too corroded and filled with scale for water to run freely anymore. This is especially true if the pipes are old galvanized iron pipes. Over the years, the insides of pipes gradually accumulate buildup that eventually closes off the water flow until it is almost non-existent.