Weak water pressure is a relatively common household problem that can have serious ramifications on everyday tasks. While the end result of inadequate water is always the same, weak water pressure can result from a number of potentially serious problems. Therefore, fixing the problem first relies on correctly diagnosing the symptom, namely by measuring household water pressure.
In order to perform this task most efficiently, it is first necessary to run through a number of preliminary tasks. At the simplest level perhaps, eyeballing the water supply leaving the faucet is enough to determine a few important facts. If only one of the fixtures exhibits signs of low water pressure, it is quite possible that the pipe leading directly up to it is experiencing some sort of blockage or leak. Examining the pipes under a sink, for example, should display any signs of a leak, but it is probably best to measure incoming water pressure before acting on the assumption of a blockage. Secondly, if the water pressure varies with the temperature of water, there may be a problem with the water heater.
Assuming that the low water pressure is constant throughout, it is then necessary to determine if the water comes from a well or a municipal water supply. In most urban and suburban areas, the latter is more common, but if one experiences a lack of water from an underground water supply, the well may have run dry. Checking the well pump meter should display the nature of the flow coming out of the well. If this flow is constant, then a leak is almost certainly causing the weak water pressure.
On the other hand, if the water comes from a municipal water supply, and there are no obvious leaks throughout the house, it may be possible that the insufficient water supply is the fault of the distributor. To check for this problem, one would first turn off the water at the entry to the building. Listening at the pipe for a characteristic “drip-drip” noise, or worse, would reveal signs of a leak. If this is not the case, measuring the actual water pressure in pounds per square inch (PSI) would quantify the weak water flow. This can be done by turning the water back on, and ensuring that all faucets and spigots throughout the building are turned off. If there is an incoming pressure regulator, ensure that it is set wide open, and attach a common pressure gauge to an outdoor spigot much like one would a hose.
Fully open the spigot and record the reading from the pressure gauge. Because water pressure can vary with usage, time of day, and the height of a building, it may be necessary to measure it two or three times. Normal household water pressure is between 30 and 80 PSI. IF the average reading is below 40, you have weak water pressure.
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