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How to Fix a Low Water Pressure Problem: Causes and Fixes

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Are you experiencing low water pressure at your house? Low water pressure is not only frustrating, it could also be an indication of a future problem. Sometimes water pressure can drop so gradually it goes unnoticed, until one day, you're left wondering what happened! An easy way to keep ahead of any potential problems is to ensure you have a water heater maintenance schedule, this will make sure low water pressure doesn't lead to anything more serious.

Low water pressure can occur throughout your whole house or be isolated to a single sink or shower head. Your cold water pressure may be fine, yet your hot water pressure is lacking. Whichever issue you're experiencing, this article will help you troubleshoot the problem and get your water flowing again.

Low Water Pressure Caused by Sediment

A build-up of sediment is the most common cause of both low water pressure and low hot water pressure. Any type of debris in your water would be considered sediment. Such as:

  • Sand
  • Calcium Deposits
  • Rust

Overtime, sediment can develop within your water heater and pipes. As it collects within your water heater, it could cause the inner tank to rust and eventually leak

But sediment can also enter your plumbing through the municipal water supply. When sediment collects and builds-up within your home's plumbing, your water pressure will decrease.

Other Common Causes

Although, there are a number of other issues that could be the problem, the most common cause of low water pressure includes:

  • Mineral Build-up
  • Valves
  • Pipes
  • Leaks
  • Water Lines
Plumbing tools in a line

Hot Water Pressure Low (Cold Pressure Fine)

If you find that your hot water pressure is low, but your cold water pressure is fine, there's a good chance the problem is your water heater. Here are some tips to both troubleshoot low pressure and repair your plumbing for future use.

Check the Water Shut-off Valve

Occasionally the shut-off valve will be partially closed. Ball valves are commonly used for shut-off valves. They are an excellent plumbing choice, but they have a long lever that can sometimes inadvertently get knocked, which could result in the valve partially closing.

This video covers how to check the water shut-off valve on your water heater.

Watch the Video

Check the Incoming and Outgoing Water Pipe Size

Most water heaters are installed with 3/4" pipes for the incoming and outgoing water supply to the heater. Occasionally 1/2" pipes are used.

The size of the pipe will definitely impact the amount of water pressure you receive in your house, a 1/2" pipe will not allow as much water to pass and therefore reduce your hot water pressure.

Unless you're comfortable with plumbing, it's probably best to contact a professional to repair low water pressure by increasing the size of your pipes. 

Flush the Water Heater Tank

When excessive sediment builds up within the water heater tank it can decrease your hot water pressure. Draining the sediment from your tank should be part of a regular plumbing maintenance routine, but let's face it, it doesn't always happen.

This video will show you how to flush your water heater.

Watch the Video


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Plumbing tools and supplies on top of house plans

Low Water Pressure Throughout Your House

If you notice that the water pressure is low throughout all the plumbing in your home, there are steps you should take to troubleshoot the problem before you engage in a course of repair. Some water pressure problems can be fixed easily while others may require the assistance of a professional plumber.

Install a Water Booster Tank

Ask your neighbors if they have low water pressure issues. If you're not alone, there's a good chance installing a water pressure booster will fix the problem.

These systems simply increase the water pressure after the main water line, giving the water a boost before it reaches your faucets.

This video will show you how to install a water booster tank in your home.

Watch the Video

Check for a Water Reducing Valve

If your neighbors tell you that you're the only house on the block with low water pressure problems, it could because of a water pressure reducing valve. These valves are designed to reduce the water pressure from the municipal water supply before it enters your home's plumbing.

The valve may have been installed before you purchased your home. Water company's set the water pressure higher than necessary to be able to deliver adequate water pressure to fire hydrants and tall buildings. As changes occurred in your neighborhood, the need to decrease the incoming water may no longer be necessary. 

It's a good idea to hire a professional plumber to adjust a water reducing valve, although it is possible to do it yourself. This video will show you what's involved in adjusting your water pressure reducing valve.

Watch the Video

Check the Main Water Valve

Your home's incoming plumbing attaches to a municipal water supply line. The supply line is usually at the edge of your property, near the street. Occasionally the valve will not be fully open, and this can cause the water to be restricted.

When the main water valve is not fully open, it can negatively impact your household water pressure. The fix is easy if this is your problem. Simply find the junction box and check to make sure the valve is fully open. 

If you don't have a water shut-off tool, you might want to consider purchasing one to have it on hand. There may be a day when you need to shut off your main water supply because of a burst pipe or some other issue.  

Watch the Video

Check for a Leak 

Unfortunately, water leaks happen. If you have a leak, you may have noticed an increase in your water bill as your water usage gradually increases.

  • Begin by checking the ground around the water main.
  • Then check your basement and garage.
  • You may find pooling water or other evidence that water is leaking.
  • If you find a problem you should contact your water company.

Depending on where the leak is, the water company may take responsibility for the repair costs.

The video below shows a variety of ways to find a leak.

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Check the Plumbing Pipes

Galvanized pipes are sometimes used for a home's plumbing system. Overtime rust and corrosion will build-up within the pipes and cause a noticeable decrease in water pressure. In a worst case scenario, the galvanized pipe could become completely clogged and not allow any water to pass.

Contact a Professional for Your Low Water Pressure Problem

Your options are pretty limited if this is the cause of your low water pressure problem. Contact a professional plumber for advice on your specific situation. He may be able to clear some of the pipes or he may suggest replacing the plumbing entirely. 

The video below gives more details on galvanized pipes.

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Water flowing over hands in the shower

Reduced Water Pressure in the Shower

Low water pressure in a shower can turn a relaxing shower into a frustrating event. Fortunately, the most common problem is more annoying than it is difficult to fix. Unless you have a plumbing issue, it's extremely likely that the issue is coming from your shower head.

Mineral and Hard Water Build-up

Showers are prone to reduced water pressure. In fact, it's not uncommon for a shower to be the only fixture in the home with low water pressure.  

More often than not, the culprit is the shower head.

Shower heads have small spray holes that become clogged with mineral build-up (also known as limescale). The water pressure decreases as more and more of the small spray holes become clogged. 

There are three methods you can use to fix this problem. Basically the choice comes down to the amount of time, effort, and money you want to spend.

  1. Replace the shower head
  2. Clean the shower head
  3. Remove the water restrictor

Let's take a closer look at each solution:

Replace the Shower Head

Many homeowners simply choose to replace the shower head.

Shower heads are relatively inexpensive and give your bathroom shower a nice shiny new look. If your shower head is more than a few years old, this may be your best option.

Delta Faucet 7-Spray Touch-Clean Hand Held Shower Head with Hose, Chrome 75700

Shower Head

Replacing the shower head should immediately resolve your low water pressure in the shower. It's an inexpensive solution that is easy to do yourself.

Soak the Shower Head

Another option to increase the water pressure in your shower is to unclog the spray holes in the shower head.

This method is typically less expensive than replacing the shower head. However, it will take a little more time. In addition, there's always the possibility that you could damage the finish, so it's a good idea to check the manufacturers recommendations before soaking.

A product such as CLR or even vinegar will help break-up the lime scale within the spray holes. 

Here's what to do:

  • Unscrew the removable component of the shower head.
  • Place it into a pan of deliming solution.
  • Allow it to soak for at least 8 hours (or overnight).
  • Since it off with water and screw it back into place.

Remove the Water Restrictor

Your shower head may have a water restrictor (also called flow restrictor) installed. When the National Energy Act was put in place, manufacturers were required to install flow restrictors in their water faucets. A shower head water restrictor is designed to reduce the water flow in order to conserve energy. 

Water restrictors help conserve water and reduce energy costs, however, they do not work as intended in all areas. Some communities have low water pressure and with the water restrictor in place, taking a shower can be more like standing in a drizzle.

If this is your problem, you can remove the water restrictor and the water pressure in your shower should improve. However, you may notice an increase in your water bill.

This video will show you how to remove a shower head water restrictor.

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Kitchen sink faucet with low water pressure

Reduced Water Pressure at the Sink

Much like the shower, it can be pretty disappointing to have to deal with lower water pressure in your home sinks. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common problems (and fixes) that can cause low water pressure at the sink.

Clogged Aerator

A common cause of low water pressure at the sink is from the aerator. If you notice that both your hot and cold water is not flowing as it once was, it's possible that your faucet aerator is clogged with mineral build-up.

The aerator is a screen on your faucet that filters solid particles that were in the flow of water. Over time, it becomes clogged with debris and needs to be cleaned. You can test if this is your problem by removing the aerator and turning the water on.

If the water flow is strong, your aerator was clogged. Simply remove the aerator and rinse it in water using a small brush to flick all the debris away. This video will show how to clean a sink aerator:

Watch the Video

Mineral and Hard Water Build-up

The sink aerator can also become clogged with mineral deposits. Just like the shower head, the small holes will collect limescale build-up and restrict the water from flowing freely.

Just like a shower head, you can buy a new sink aerator or try to remove the mineral build-up by placing it into a deliming solution such as CLR or white vinegar for 6 to 8 hours.  

AM Conservation Group, Inc. FA012CPB1-WS-2 AM Conservation Group Sink Faucet Aerator, 2 Pack, Silver

Sink Aerator

Replacing a sink aerator is an easy and inexpensive way to solve a build-up of lime scale.

Repair Faucet Cartridges

Your sink low water pressure problem could be the result of the faucet cartridges. They may need to be cleaned or replaced. However, always check the aerators for debris and mineral build-up first.

The majority of modern faucets have cartridges that the water passes through. There are small holes in the cartridge that can become clogged with debris or mineral build-up. Just like the aerator you can flush the cartridge to remove the debris, or soak it in deliming solution to breakdown the limescale.

American Standard 994053-0070A Bath & Kitchen Faucet Replacement Valve Cartridge

Faucet Valve Cartridge

It may be necessary to replace the faucet cartridge. If so, they're relatively inexpensive. However, you'll want to double check that you select one that will work for your faucet.

Watch the Video

Check the Water Line

Once you've determined that the low water pressure problem wasn't the aerator, it's time to look under the sink and check the water line. Galvanized pipes were often used in many older homes.

These pipes are prone to mineral deposits, and overtime will clog to a point where it makes a noticeable difference with the amount of water pressure available.  

Unless you are comfortable with plumbing, it's probably best to contact a professional plumber to assess the situation and recommend a course of action to repair your low water pressure.

Watch the Video


Consult with a Local Plumber

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