When you turn on the faucet, you expect lots of water to come out…but sometimes what you get is just a trickle. Low water pressure can have many causes. Sometimes you can fix it yourself, but sometimes it will need to be handled by a professional plumber.
Low water pressure is usually caused by something inside the home. In many cases, it’s using multiple fixtures at once. Using the dishwasher and watering the garden while you take a shower can definitely affect the flow.
If you notice that the water pressure is low when you’re not using multiple fixtures or if the water pressure has dropped suddenly and drastically, you may have a problem. A list of possible culprits includes:
- Leaks. If a pipe has a leak, the water can’t make it to the faucet.
- Clogged aerators. Aerators collect particles that can cause blockage.
- Pressure reducing valve (PRV). Usually located near the main shut-off valve, the PRV controls water pressure.
- Water softener. If you have a water softener and suspect it is the cause of low water pressure, switch it to bypass mode and see if water pressure is restored.
- Shut-off valves. They’re on every water source in the house, and there’s a main one somewhere too. It’s not all that hard to accidentally bump them and partially close them.
The first step in finding your water pressure problem is to check the water pressure at each faucet individually, with no other water running in the house.
- Is low pressure isolated to only one faucet? It’s probably the aerator, but may also be a leak in a pipe that leads to just that faucet.
- Is low pressure only in one area of the home? If so, it’s probably either a leak, clog, or partially closed valve somewhere in that area.
- If every faucet in the house is affected, it’s likely a leak, a clog, or a main valve closure.
- Or, just call a licensed plumber. A professional likely can identify and fix your problem quickly.
So, now that you’ve identified your problem, can you fix it or should you call a professional?
- Aerators are easily removed and cleaned. Remove the part of the faucet where the water comes out; it should unscrew easily. If you’ve never removed an aerator before, there are plenty of tutorials online, or you can call a plumber.
- Shut-off valves are easy to check. Locate the valve in the problem area and make sure it’s open.
- PRV. Never try and replace a PRV. It’s too easy for a do-it-yourselfer to cause additional problems in this case. If you suspect your PRV is responsible for your low pressure, call a plumber.
- Leaks. Call a plumber. Any leak that is big enough to lower water pressure is best left to the professionals.
When it comes to water pressure issues, unless you can isolate the problem to aerators or a shut-off valve that got closed by accident, you should call a plumber. With a more complex problem such as a PRV or leak, you don’t want to make the problem worse with inexperience.