Are you fed up with water leaking out of your shower every day? Low water pressure is frustrating, but you don't have to live with it. You can improve it in no time once you've discovered the source of the problem. The following are a number of easy steps to troubleshoot low water pressure.
*Check the Main Water Valve
If your home runs off a municipal water supply, first make sure that the main water valve is fully open. The valve is usually located near the water meter. If you've had work done on your house recently, it's possible that the contractor shut off the water supply but did not fully crank the valve back open.
*Talk to Your Neighbors
Ask your neighbors whether they, too, are experiencing low water pressure. If so, contact your neighborhood's water utility company to see whether it can increase the water pressure in your area.
*Check Your Water Pressure
Check the water pressure in your home. Connect a water pressure gauge to an outdoor faucet. Turn off all the water valves in the house except the main one. Then measure the water pressure in your water pipes. Ideally, the water pressure should measure about 60 pounds per square inch. If it measures 40 to 50 psi, it's too low; if it's greater than 70 psi, it is too high.
*Check the Water Regulator
Again, if your house runs on a public water supply, make sure that the water regulator is working properly. The regulator decreases the water pressure as it travels from the main line to your home. The water pressure could be severely diminished if the regulator is broken. If you suspect that the water regulator is broken, call your water utility company and request that someone check it -- or even replace it, if necessary.
*Clear Faucet Clogs
Over time, minerals can build up in the pipes, particularly at the faucet outflow. Soak the end of the faucet in vinegar to break down any hard minerals that may be clogging it. Partially fill a plastic bag with vinegar, and slip it over the end of the faucet, holding it in place with a rubber band. Remove the plastic bag after 24 hours, and lightly brush the faucet with an old toothbrush. Turn the faucet handles and see whether the pressure has improved.
*Replace the Water Supply Lines
If you have a very old plumbing system, it is possible that the water supply lines themselves are clogged with minerals. If you suspect this is the case, hire a plumber to confirm, and then replace the supply lines if necessary. This is an expensive endeavor, but you'll need to do this before you can ever sell your home. There's no point in waiting for the inevitable; bite the bullet and spend the money now.
*Check the Well Pump and Water Holding Tank
If your house has a private water system -- e.g., an artesian well -- make sure the well pump is operating properly. Also, if applicable, make sure that your whole-house water filter isn't clogged. You may have to increase the water pressure regulator on the holding tank to about 60 psi.
Mark J. Donovan's website is at http://www.homeadditionplus.com.