Low Water Pressure in Your Home – Four Possible Causes
If you are experiencing low water pressure, you may be surprised to learn there are several possible causes of your problem. Below is more information about the causes of low water pressure in a residential setting.
Galvanized Iron Pipes
A frequent cause of low water pressure in homes built before the 1970s is the presence of galvanized iron plumbing. Galvanized iron became the standard for water supply lines in the early 20th century once the dangers of lead exposure were discovered.
Galvanized pipe contains a thin coating of zinc to protect the iron from corrosion. Galvanized pipes are inexpensive, strong, and safe, but the zinc coating will eventually wear away over time, or else corrosion will begin at an unprotected point, such as where fittings join the pipe.
Once corrosion attacks the iron pipe, the pipe will typically begin rusting from the inside out. The particles of iron-oxide (rust) generated by corrosion will then gradually swell and narrow the space available for water passage. The smaller the channel, the less water can pass through during a given period of time.
Another common cause of low water pressure is the presence of a water leak. While water leaks are often plainly visible, they can be hidden if they occur beneath the slab of a home or in a deep, remote location. In addition, water leaks that aren’t even on your property can be the cause of low water pressure.
One way to check for a possible unknown water leak is to monitor your water meter. The meter face will contain a variety of needles and gauges, but the key is to look for movement whenever you have turned off all water-using fixtures and appliances. If you see any dial or gauge moving and are sure the water is not flowing in your home, then you can suspect there is a water leak somewhere on your property.
At times, a clog inside your home’s plumbing can be the cause of low water pressure. Clogs can be caused by debris that enters your water pipes through outside sources, such as when a water main that breaks and permits soil or sand to enter the opening.
Clogs can also be caused by sources inside your home. For example, a failing water heater may begin to break apart and release small particles that enter your plumbing system. While tiny particles usually aren’t sufficient to cause flow problems, the particles can be problematic if they accumulate at choke points in your plumbing, such as at faucet aerators.
You can check for possible clogs in your plumbing by inspecting faucet aerators and shower strainers for debris. Unscrew these devices from the fixture and then carefully empty out any debris onto a paper towel. Anything more than a few grains or tiny pieces may indicate that you have a larger clog somewhere in the system.
Water Pressure-Reducing Valve
Though not as likely a cause of low water pressure, it is possible that the presence of a water pressure-reducing valve is causing trouble. A prior owner of the home may have installed a reducing valve to lower unacceptably high water pressure, which can be destructive to plumbing and appliances, and failed to let a subsequent buyer know about the valve.
This may have resulted in a forgotten valve that continues to restrict pressure even when it is no longer needed or desirable. The solution is often simple, as a quick adjustment of the valve can bring your water pressure back to life.
Fortunately, for all these potential problems, a plumbing professional can be your best friend. If you are unsure of what is causing low water pressure in your home or need help implementing a solution, then a licensed plumber will be able to assist you further and get your water pressure where it needs to be.