Water Pressure Woes
There’s little more frustrating than turning on a faucet only to discover low water pressure. And it’s even worse if the issue occurs in the shower. That’s why we’re tackling pressure problems and discussing the appropriate fixes. You might just save yourself the cost of a plumber.
Signs Of Water Pressure Problems
Unlike some other plumbing problems, It’s relatively easy to identify issues with the pressure. Here are some clues to watch out for:
- Weak or spluttering flow from taps and shower head
- Your taps whistle and bang when you turn them on and off
- Dishwashers and washing machines take longer to complete cycles
- It takes longer for sinks and bathtubs to fill
- A water pressure gauge shows unusual readings
Okay, so you’re experiencing low water pressure. But what’s causing it? And more importantly, what can you do about it? Let’s take a look at the causes and sensible solutions:
1. Partially Closed Valve
The first thing to do when experiencing low water pressure is to make sure the house is still receiving the complete flow of water. Check each valve and fixture connected to the hot water system to make sure they are fully open. A closed valve could shut off the water supply, while partially closed ones can reduce water flow and cause fluctuations. Perform the same checks on the tap or valve at the water main to ensure they are fully open if required.
2. Water Supply Fault
If step one fails to remedy the low pressure, step two involves placing a call to your provider. The water company may be experiencing issues with the water supply, which results in low pressure. Call your local water authority, check their website and social media for updates or ask other community members to see if they’re experiencing similar issues. If so, sit tight and stock up on bottled drinking water until the pressure issues are resolved.
3. Clogged Pipes
Reaching step three may indicate that it’s only your house experiencing the pressure problem. So, it’s time to take a closer look into the plumbing. Your water supply contains natural salts and minerals, and as it travels through a pipe, there’s potential for these substances to solidify over time, forming partial or complete blockages.
A clogged pipe could be responsible for diminished water pressure. These issues can occur anywhere between the water main and faucet and are extremely difficult to pinpoint. There’s no access to the clog, unlike a blocked drain, so contact a licensed plumber to find the clog and take care of the water pressure repair.
4. Leaking/ Burst Pipes
A large enough leak somewhere in your plumbing can be the reason for low water pressure. Unfortunately, the source of leaks is not always obvious.
Here’s a simple test to determine whether or not you have a leak. Before leaving for work or going to sleep, make sure all faucets are closed off, including the one servicing your water heater. Then, take a reading of your water meter. After work or in the morning, take another reading. If the number has increased without anyone running water, you’re experiencing a leak.
Even if a leak doesn’t reduce pressure, it’s wasting water and costing you money. The Queensland Government reports that a slow drip could waste 9,000 litres of water per year where a larger visible drip wastes around 60,000 litres. A leak could also be the first sign of an escalating problem. Wait too long and you could need to seek burst pipe repairs.
5. Corroded Plumbing
Corrosion can stem from rust which affects your plumbing in one of two ways. First, pipes made from galvanized steel or iron are prone to rust. The rust can flake off and build up, blocking your pipes and resulting in low water pressure. Alternatively, the rust can cause pipes to rupture with leaks guaranteed to reduce pressure, among other complications.
Contact a plumber to handle the corrosion and consider upgrading to copper pipes as a long term solution.
6. Faulty Fixtures
Just like the pipes, the fixtures are not excluded from build up or corrosion. Valves, fittings, washers and taps themselves break down and can reduce the flow of water. A thorough cleaning may provide a suitable fix, but it might be most cost-effective to replace worn or blocked fixtures.
7. Failing Water Pressure Regulator
What is a water pressure regulator? This essential item is sometimes referred to as the water pressure reducing valve or PRV. This is located near the hot water system and reduces the pressure of the water flowing through your pipes so it arrives at safe levels. Australian standards stipulate pressure should not exceed 500 kPa. A damaged or faulty valve or one set to an excessively high pressure could cause pressure problems. There’s also potential for overly high water pressure resulting in damage or injuries. A plumber is required to install or replace the water pressure reducing valve in an existing line.
8. Wrong Pipe Sizes
Increasing the number of faucets and showerheads in the home without increasing the quantity or size of piping can cause pressure problems. A common example is a house with two bathrooms where showering in one affects the water pressure in the other. Contact a local plumber when upgrading your piping, as they can address the water pressure issue and expand the plumbing as required.
9. Frozen Pipes
This one’s not so common in Australia, but partially frozen pipes are guaranteed to affect water pressure. There’s potential for this to occur in uninsulated exterior plumbing. If pipes become frozen, you can thaw them using a hairdryer or an electric heat strip if safe. Then, insulate the pipe as soon as possible. Never apply an open flame to the pipes.
10. Cheap Shower Head
Tired of low water pressure in the shower? Then it’s time to invest in a quality shower head. Cheap shower heads are notorious for providing poor water pressure, removing all satisfaction of a steamy shower and even increasing the time it takes to complete the wash. However, there are quality low flow shower heads that help reduce running costs without sacrificing the pressure.
What About High Water Pressure?
Australian regulations state that water pressure for new homes cannot exceed 500 kPa. Anything over is where you start hearing banging noises in your plumbing which can ultimately lead to burst pipes. This is where the pressure regulator comes in useful.
Pressure limiting valves monitor water pressure and ensure nothing too high enters the system. If water pressure exceeds 500 kPa, the valve closes to stop the excessive pressure from damaging your plumbing.
Only new homes must comply with the 500 kPa. But it’s always wise to have a regulator valve in place. Older homes are prone to banging pipes which indicates shocks in the system and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
If you’re experiencing low or excessively high water pressure, call Mr Emergency. We have local plumbers on call 24/7 to get your home back in order. We can even be at your door within 30 minutes.*