Water Pressure Loss 101

Low water pressure can affect everything from the enjoyment of a shower to how well your dishwasher works. Troubleshooting is necessary so the root cause can be found and repaired.

Signs of Low Water Pressure

The symptoms of lowering water pressure can occur over time, which means you may not always notice that the pressure is dropping right away. Naturally, the easiest sign to spot is when the water flow slows to a trickle or suffers a great reduction in force. Another sign is that it takes longer for appliances like washing machines and water heaters to fill up during use. There may also be insufficient pressure for certain taps to fully activate, such as a sink sprayer or showerhead.

One thing to look for is what taps are affected since the problem could be affecting a single fixture, a room, or the entire house. For example, if the sink and dishwasher in the kitchen are the only things affected, then it is likely a secondary supply line issue. If only the sink is affected, the problem could be with the fixture itself.

Common Causes

The most likely cause for a loss of pressure is a failed pressure regulation valve. There are several of these valves throughout your plumbing system. You typically have one on the water main to regulate the pressure coming into the home. It this fails, then pressure loss affects all fixtures. There are also valves on lines leading out from the main, which can affect a room or section of the home. Some appliances and fixtures also have their own valves.

Another likely cause is mineral scale in the water lines. If you have hard water in your area, then mineral scale can begin to clog water lines, appliance filters, and fixtures. As the scale builds up, water flow can slow to a trickle.

The last likely cause is a water line leak. The affected fixtures and appliances can help indicate whether the leak is in your water main or in one of the secondary lines that run through your home.

Repair Options

Failed pressure regulators are a fairly common issue, so a plumber can quickly determine which regulators are likely the culprit. Replacement of the regulator is quick and inexpensive in most cases. If hard water is the cause, the lines will need to be cleaned. Filters and aerators in faucets and fixtures may also require cleaning or replacement. In extreme cases, line or fixture replacement may be necessary. Installing a water filter can minimize hard water damage.

Leaks are the most alarming cause of water pressure loss. Your plumber must perform leak detection to find the leaking water line, and then the line must be repaired or replaced. You may also need to repair water damaged walls or supports in your home.

Contact a residential plumber in your area for more assistance.