It’s frustrating when you turn on the shower, only to discover that the usual blast of hot water has turned into a drip. What’s going on? Low water pressure has several possible causes—both inside and outside your home. Learn how to diagnose poor municipal water pressure.
Check Other Faucets in Your Home
Check all the faucets in your home. If the low-pressure problem is isolated to one sink or shower, or even one room, the problem is probably in your pipes. Several faucets on the same level or in the same room could mean a blockage in your pipes, which may have become corroded or clogged. It could be a slow leak anywhere in your plumbing system or a failing pressure regulator (if your home has one). However, if it’s just one faucet, it could be as simple as an aerator filled with sediment.
To check for leaks, turn off all the faucets and appliances that use water in your home and record the number on your water meter. Wait about 30 minutes and check the meter again. If it has advanced, then it’s likely something inside the home is leaking. Leaks aren’t always easy to locate, so if you can’t figure out where the leak is, contact a licensed plumber to help identify the source.
Also, check to see if your main shutoff valve is all the way open. If you have recently had work done in your home with the water turned off, the valve may not have been opened all the way again when it was turned back on.
Additionally, a soggy spot in the yard could mean a leak in your water supply pipe that brings water from the city main to your home. Contact a plumber licensed to perform excavations if you suspect the problem is underground.
Ask Your Neighbors and Buy a Pressure Gauge
If you find that the low-pressure problem occurs throughout your home, ask your neighbors if they are experiencing the same problem. If the whole neighborhood is seeing low pressure, there could be a problem with municipal water pressure.
There’s an easy way to check for this. First, buy an inexpensive pressure gauge from your local big box home store or hardware. Attach it to an outdoor faucet. The pressure should be between 40 and 60 psi—most municipal supplies are at around 50. If the reading is less than 40, call your local water supply utility and find out if they have identified a pressure problem. Further, get together with neighbors who are experiencing the same problem to approach city officials and ask for a solution. You may be the first to alert the city that there’s a problem, so they can investigate and, if necessary, enlist the services of a properly licensed professional plumbing contractor to make repairs. Fletcher’s Plumbing and Contracting performs municipal plumbing repairs for cities large and small in Northern California.