Low water pressure can be a frustrating issue for many residents, not just in Lakeland but across the globe. It can impact the efficiency of household tasks, from washing dishes to taking showers. The good news is that there are a number of steps homeowners can take to troubleshoot and remedy this issue.
Understand the Causes of Low Water Pressure
Low water pressure can be attributed to a variety of causes, from temporary issues like high water usage in your area due to lawn watering or firefighting, to permanent factors such as the location of your home or the size of the pipes serving your home. Older homes, in particular, can suffer from low pressure due to scaled pipes, which leave little room for water to flow.
Sometimes, low pressure can be indicative of more serious issues, like pollution entering your drinking water system. Hence, it’s more than just a nuisance and can potentially pose health hazards.
Identifying Low Water Pressure
The first step in troubleshooting is to identify if you indeed have a water pressure problem. A common standard for water pressure is 20 pounds per square inch (psi), although most systems have pressures three to four times the minimum.
You might have a pressure issue if the flow from your faucets at home is significantly lower than elsewhere in your area. If the issue is limited to your home, it might be more of a nuisance than a potential health hazard, but it’s still worth addressing.
To measure water pressure at home, you would need a pressure gauge, which can be purchased from home improvement stores or online. Make sure the gauge has a female garden hose connector. Below are the steps you can take to measure your home water pressure:
- Turn off all running water in your house. You should ensure that no water is being used anywhere in your home while you measure the water pressure. This includes faucets, showers, toilets, and water-based appliances. If water is being used, it can lead to a false reading.
- Locate the main water supply. This could be a metal or plastic pipe that pumps water into your house. It usually has a large water meter attached to it that measures the amount of water you use. You can typically find the main water supply in the garage, basement, or near your hot water heater. If you can’t find the main water supply, you can test the pressure on a different faucet or spigot, preferably one on the first floor of your house. You can also perform the test at your washing machine’s cold water supply faucet if you don’t have a hose bib.
- Attach a pressure gauge to the spigot near the main water supply. Screw the end of the pressure gauge to the threaded side of the spigot by fitting it over the threads and turning it in a clockwise motion.
- Open the valve next to the spigot. Twist the valve counterclockwise to allow water to flow through the spigot. This will give you a reading on your pressure gauge.
- Read the measurement on the gauge. The needle on the gauge should move to a number that represents your water pressure in pounds per square inch or PSI. Note this number down.
- Unscrew the gauge after you get your reading. Once you take the reading, turn off the valve and unscrew the gauge. The average house should have around 40 to 70 psi. If the pressure is much higher or lower than that, it indicates an issue with your water pressure.
While low water pressure can be an issue, excessive water pressure can cause damage to your plumbing lines and fixtures. Therefore, regular testing is a good idea as part of routine home maintenance.
Causes of Low Water Pressure
Low water pressure can be a result of several issues, with each cause having its own set of potential fixes. Below are some of the most common causes of low water pressure:
Many Appliances Using Water Simultaneously
When too many appliances or fixtures are using water at the same time, the water pressure in your home may decrease. To fix or avoid this problem, try to stagger your water usage throughout the day. For example, wait until you are finished showering before starting the dishwasher.
Partially Closed Main Water Shutoff Valve
If your main water shutoff valve is not fully open, this could be reducing the pressure of your water system. To remedy this, you should ensure that the valve is fully open, either by turning the lever so that it lies in line with the water pipe or by turning the handle counterclockwise until it can’t turn anymore, then a quarter turn back in the clockwise direction to avoid potential leaks.
Malfunctioning Pressure Regulator
Homes in areas with higher-than-average water pressure often have a pressure regulator installed. If your pressure regulator isn’t working properly or is set incorrectly, this could cause low water pressure. To address this, check the setting on your pressure regulator and adjust it if needed. If it’s already set correctly and you’re still experiencing low water pressure, you may need a plumber to check if the regulator is broken.
Community-Wide Low Pressure
If your entire community is experiencing low water pressure, the problem may be out of your hands. You can work with your local water supplier to see if they can resolve the problem. Installing a water pressure booster, which increases the water pressure from the main water line to your home’s fixtures, might help.
Water Pressure-Reducing Valve
Some homes have a water pressure-reducing valve installed to limit the force of water coming from the municipal supply line. If you have this valve and it’s causing low water pressure, you may need to get plumbing services to adjust the settings to allow for a higher flow rate.
Leak in the Main
A leak in your main water supply could also cause low water pressure. Check your basement, garage, or the ground outdoors where your main meets the local supply for visual evidence of a leak. If you see a leak, you’ll likely need professional help to fix it.
Old, corroded pipes can lead to low water pressure even if they appear fine from the outside. If your pipes are old or you’re unsure about their condition, consult with a professional to inspect your home’s plumbing system. If the pipes are corroded inside, they may need to be replaced.
Issues with Water Supplier
If your home receives water from a private company and you’re experiencing low water pressure, there could be issues with the water supply from the company. If this is the case, you should contact the company for assistance.
Hard Water Problems
The water in Florida, including Lakeland, is generally considered “hard” to “very hard.” (According to the U.S. Geological Survey, water is considered hard at 121 mg/L and very hard at 180 mg/L. The average water hardness for the Florida resident is between 100 – 300 parts per million.)
Hard water is a result of dissolved minerals, primarily calcium, magnesium, and manganese. Florida’s limestone platform and karst topography contribute to high calcium concentration in its groundwater, which is a significant factor for water hardness.
Over time, mineral deposits from hard water can cause scale buildup inside the pipes, which might constrict water flow and consequently result in lower water pressure.
Stronghold Plumbing In & Near Lakeland
Searching for plumbers in and near Lakeland? At Stronghold Plumbing & Septic, we tackle all plumbing jobs, from kitchen sink installations to tankless water heater installations. We’re committed to delivering affordable and speedy plumbing services, ensuring that each job is done with precision.
In addition to our regular services, we provide detailed plumbing inspections that include pipe and fixture examination, water pressure assessment, drainage system evaluation, and water heater services. Free plumbing estimates help you know exactly what you need to keep your Florida plumbing system functioning at peak efficiency.