How to Fix Low Water Pressure in Your Home

By Nick Cebollero

Low water pressure is both an irritant and an inconvenience, but you can do a great deal of troubleshooting on your own. Here are the best strategies for fixing low water pressure in your home—the causes, what you can do about it, and when to call in a professional.

Determine the scope of the water pressure problem

Run both cold and hot water through all possible faucets and spigots, in the bathroom, in the kitchen, etc., to determine whether the problem is throughout your home or if it’s isolated to a specific water source.

If low water pressure occurs only when the water is hot, the issue is likely with your water heater. If this is the case, make sure the shut-off valve on your water heater is completely open. If the problem persists with the shut-off valve open, call in a professional to inspect the heater and ensure proper functionality.

Mineral deposits Buildup looks like yellow/white chalky residue

If the problem is isolated to a single fixture

Usually, low water pressure is a problem with only a single fixture and is the result of mineral buildup. Mineral deposits look like white, off-white, or blue-green crust that can be seen within a pipe or on the outside of a water fixture at its joints.

These deposits can be easily cleaned by soaking a clean rag in white vinegar and wrapping it around the affected area. Secure the rag with a rubber band and let sit for an hour.

Sink and shower faucets and outdoor spigots contain a piece called an aerator, a mesh-like cover that mixes air with the water to create a no-splash stream. These parts can be removed and soaked in equal parts white vinegar and water to remove any mineral buildup.

If the water pressure is low throughout the house

Low water pressure throughout your house could stem from a few things. Here’s what to check.

Water Shut-Off Valve

Locate your water meter, which is usually under a metal or concrete plate in your driveway, yard, or above ground near your house. Some water meters are located in the home, usually under or near the kitchen sink.

On your water meter, find the shutoff valve. This piece can look like a brightly colored, rubber-covered knob —sometimes shaped like a flower or just a tab—or a plain metal knob with an arrow.

Make sure the valve is completely open. For knobs, turn to the left. If your valve control has an arrow, ensure the arrow is parallel with the pipe it sits on. Some homes have two shut-off valves— one outside and one inside the house—so check both to ensure each has an open valve.

Left Water shut-off valve cover plate in a sidewalk or driveway

Right Water shut-off valve often found under a sink or in the kitchen

Leaks

Another common cause of low water pressure is a leak in the water line. A leak in a toilet or sink can cause low water pressure at a single fixture, but if the problem exists throughout your house, you may have a severe leak.

Check for water spots in the garage, basement, and anywhere else pipes are located. Contact your water company or a plumbing professional if you find a severe leak. And seek assistance immediately—sustained exposure to water can cause structural damage to a home.

Pipe conditions

If your house is several decades old, the pipes may have corroded. If you suspect corrosion, call a professional plumber to evaluate the extent of the problem. An expert may determine that a few changes can be made to fix the problem or that extensive repairs are needed.

Keep in mind that pipes at risk for corrosion should not be ignored. Failure to fix this problem can cause pipes to crack and break, leading to major leaks and water damage.

Check for a neighborhood-wide problem

If you’ve scanned your house for these issues and find no apparent problem, get in touch with your neighbors to see if they too are experiencing low water pressure. If the problem is community-wide, speak to your municipal officials about improving your neighborhood’s water pressure, or consider investing in a water pressure booster for your home.

A booster will take the water coming in and, using an electric pump, increase the pressure to your home. If you choose this route, hire a plumber to install the pump so it can be properly inspected.

Outdoor valve An above-ground water shut-off valve in the yard

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