Few plumbing changes are as frustrating as a drop in water pressure, especially if the pressure change occurs while you're in the middle of washing dishes or taking a shower. Many homeowners see this plumbing problem as frustrating but routine or harmless.
However, sudden pressure changes can actually constitute a plumbing emergency. In this blog, we list six of the most common causes of low water pressure.
While most pipe clogs affect exit pipes, supply pipes can sometimes become obstructed as well. These clogs may consist of mineral buildup, which we'll discuss in section five, or exterior debris.
Clogs resulting from debris most often occur in homes that get their water from a well or similar source. Sand and other foreign particles may be present in the water and become stuck in the pipe as the water flows through. This type of clog usually affects only one room or one fixture in the home.
As pipes age, they may begin to corrode inside. As the pipes corrode, the deteriorating material begins to fill the interior of the pipe, slowing water flow. Obviously, this cause of low pressure is most common in older houses.
Corrosion may affect only one fixture at a time, or it could clog multiple fixtures. Unlike debris clogs, however, there won't necessarily be any pattern to obstructions caused by corrosion. For example, corrosion could block the kitchen faucet and the upstairs shower head while correlating debris clogs would all be in one room.
3. Water-Heater Issues
If your water pressure drops when you turn on the hot water but seems fine when you run the cold water, the issue may lie with your water heater. Your water-heater valve may be in an incorrect position, reducing the volume of water coming through the pipes.
If the valve settings are correct but the pressure issue persists, your water heater may have a leak and need to be replaced.
Your entire plumbing system is connected, so if one of your pipes springs a leak, you may notice lower water pressure somewhere else. This principle is the same as when someone flushes the toilet while the shower is on and the water pressure dips for a moment.
Look for other signs of leaks, such as musty smells, water damage, and a moving water meter when no faucets are on to see whether a leak could be causing the problem.
5. Mineral Buildup
Particles in your water can get stuck to the walls of your pipes. Over time, these minerals stick together, closing a portion of the pipe. Mineral buildup can also encourage clogs consisting of hair, soap scum, and food scraps to form because the buildup gives this debris an anchor.
If you have hard water or another mineral-heavy type of water, you may notice lower water pressure over the course of months or even years. Once you clear away this mineral buildup, you will also want to invest in water treatment to prevent future obstructions.
6. Peak Time Periods
While you may not share the majority of your plumbing system with your neighbors, you likely share the water supply. When you notice changes in whole-house water pressure, take note of the time. If the pressure decreases around that time each day, you may have stumbled on a peak time in your neighborhood.
Switching up your schedule should solve this particular water-pressure problem.
If you've noticed low water pressure in your home, schedule an appointment with your plumber. Your plumber will need to determine the cause of the pressure changes before any troubleshooting or repairs can be done.