Having your home's water pressure be too low can be a frustrating experience. In many cases, the pressure will suddenly drop for a few hours or even a few days before suddenly returning to normal. When this happens, the issue is typically caused by a problem with the city's water supply and nothing you really need to worry about. However, if your water pressure is constantly low, the problem is likely caused by some issue with your home's plumbing. The good news is that there are a number of steps that can potentially help to make your low water pressure problems a thing of the past.
Testing Your Home's Water Pressure
Ideally, your home's water pressure should be somewhere between 40 and 60 psi (pounds per square inch), and this is something you can easily check on your own. Many homes have a pressure-reducing valve located at the main shut-off that controls the water to the entire building. This valve should have a pressure gauge that shows you exactly how many psi your system has. However, there is no guarantee that the gauge is accurate, especially if it is fairly old. For this reason, you may want to purchase a pressure gauge and test it yourself.
The pressure gauge will screw directly onto a garden hose. After connecting the gauge, turn the water on as high as it will go and then check to see how high the pressure is. If it is below 40 psi, then it's time to figure out what is causing the pressure to be so low. If it is above 40 psi and you still occasionally have issues with low water pressure, it may be that your flow rate is too low and you're trying to use too much water at one time.
Use Your Water Meter to Make Sure Your Plumbing Isn't Leaking
While a small leak generally won't have much of an impact on water pressure, a major leak definitely will. If your water pressure issues started fairly recently, it may be that a plumbing leak is the cause. You can easily check this by monitoring your water meter. After making sure that no water is running inside or outside, inspect the water meter to see if the meter is still going up. If so, then it is time to contact a plumber to find and repair the leak.
Many water meters also have a leak indicator. This is usually a small triangle or disc that spins whenever water is flowing. If the disc is spinning when the water is off, this indicates that there is a leak.
Check Your Main Water Shut-Off Valve
If you have determined that a leak isn't causing your water pressure issues, you should then check to make sure that your main water shut-off valve is fully open. If you had any plumbing work done recently or had to shut off your water for any reason, it may be that the valve didn't get fully reopened. If the valve is partially closed, it limits the amount of water flowing into your plumbing system and will cause the pressure to be much lower.
Your main water shut-off is most likely located inside your house. Most commonly it is somewhere near the front of the house where the main water line enters the building. It may also be located inside an underground box near the front of your foundation, but this isn't all that common in Illinois and other colder climates due to the potential of freezing.
After locating the shut-off valve, check to make sure that it is fully open. Most newer plumbing systems use a ball valve, which is a straight handle that can turn 45 degrees. When fully open, the handle should be parallel to the pipe. If the valve is perpendicular to the pipe or at an angle, then it is not fully open.
If your plumbing system is older, it may use a gate valve instead. This type of valve has a round handle just like most hose spigots. To open a gate valve, turn the handle in a clockwise direction as far as you can.
Adjust the Pressure-Reducer Valve
If your home has a pressure-reducer valve, it could be that it is broken or malfunctioning. If the pressure valve isn't working correctly, it can result in either a major increase or decrease in water pressure. In either case, the valve will need to be replaced to overcome the pressure issue.
It may also be that the valve is working properly, but the pressure is simply set too low and needs to be raised. Adjusting the pressure-reducer valve only takes a few seconds, but it really isn't something you should do on your own. For starters, there is no way for you to know whether the valve is working properly. As well, you could seriously damage your plumbing system if you accidentally adjust the valve so that the pressure is too high. For this reason, it is always best to have a plumber inspect and adjust the valve for you just to be safe.
Contact Your Water Provider
Most municipal water providers will come and test your water pressure for free. This can be useful as it allows you to determine whether the water pressure coming into your home is sufficient. If not, then the issue lies with the main water line that brings the water into your home and not your plumbing system.
The city has shut-off valves that control the water from the municipal water main into each property. If this valve is even partially closed, it will decrease the flow rate and water pressure just as if your home's main shut-off valve isn’t fully open. This is a much more common problem than you might think. Unfortunately, this is not something you can check or adjust on your own as only the city has the proper key.
If All Else Fails, Install a Pressure Booster Pump
If all of the above steps have failed to solve your water pressure issue, the final option is to install a pressure booster pump. These electric pumps can drastically increase the pressure and flow rate as the water comes into your home. Most pumps use small blades known as impellers. As water comes into the pump, the electric motor spins the impellers, which increases the water pressure.
Booster pumps are a great option for increasing water pressure, but they are generally a last resort. If your water pressure issues are caused by clogged or obstructed plumbing or other issues, it is always best to fix the underlying cause instead.
Award-Winning Plumbing Services in Plainfield
At TR Miller Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, our team of licensed plumbers have the knowledge and experience to help you quickly overcome your water pressure issues. We can inspect your plumbing system to determine why your water pressure is low and then identify how best to fix the issue. Our team specializes in a full range of plumbing services including leak detection and repairs, repiping, booster pump installation and more. If you're experiencing a problem with low water pressure, give us a call today to make it a thing of the past.