Under or Over-pressurized water issues can cause significant frustration. Maybe your bathtub takes too long to fill or the water pressure in your shower leaves you wanting more. However low water pressure manifests, you want to know the source and how to fix it.
The Home’s Shutoff Valve
If the home’s main shutoff valve isn’t fully open, it can decrease water pressure. To check, you must first find the valve. Unless you live in a warm climate, the main valve is usually found inside the house. It can sit outdoors in warmer areas, so make sure to check both locations. Once you’ve found it, make sure the valve is completely open. The valve types include:
- Gate Valve – This type has a handle shaped like a wheel. When open, the handle is pushed completely counterclockwise.
- Ball Valve – With a lever handle, make sure it sits parallel to the direction of the pipes.
The Water Meter Valve
The other major shutoff valve controlling your home’s water is the water meter valve, which sits next to the home’s water meter. In most situations, you should stay away from this valve, as it belongs to the water company. If low water pressure is an issue, however, this valve may have been closed after a major service.
Finding this valve can take some detective work, as it can be on an outside wall of the home, in a box underground (usually between the house and street), or in a basement/attached garage. Once you find it, make sure the valve sits parallel with the water pipe (you may need a wrench for adjustments). If the handle sits at any angle to the pipe, it has been partially closed.
The Pressure Regulator
If you use a pressure regulator or pressure-reducing device, its malfunction could be causing low water pressure. Although not all homes have one of these valves, those that do can face serious water pressure issues if it fails.
If a faulty pressure regulator is to blame, you will notice sudden low water pressure on every fixture (it can also go in the other direction and increase water pressure). If this happens, having a professional take care of the issue is a smarter option than trying to do it yourself (the process is complex and involves shutting off the home’s water supply).
Checking Your Water Pressure
All it takes to get an accurate pressure reading is to attach a gauge to an outdoor hose (closest to the water main). Ideal water pressure is between 52 and 75 psi (pounds per square inch).