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No one wants to go back to the days of antique water pumps and lack of indoor plumbing, but that’s what it feels like when water pressure in your home gives out suddenly.
We spoke to Tom Mahoney of Little Tommy’s Plumbing Shop to find out what causes low water pressure in your home and how you can get it back.
Please note: This blog offers advice to homeowners with city or municipal water. If you have well water, check out the vipTIPs in the vipHomeLink home management app for more information.
Way #1 – Check the surrounding area for issues
“Most of the time when you have a significant drop in water pressure, it’s something that’s on the main feed,” says Tom. “It could be a fire down the block that’s taking a lot of water.”
If there’s a home fire in your area, your water pressure should return after the firefighters douse the fire and plug the hydrants once more.
If the problem persists, call a professional plumber to investigate the issue.
Way #2 – Check your water shut-off valves
Every home has a water shut-off valve that can be closed to stop water from coming into your home. It’s a good idea to shut off your water supply lines when you won’t be in your home for a prolonged period of time, such as a vacation or large home renovation project.
Before you begin to panic, check to see if your valves are fully open. If they’re not, open them and see if that fixes your pressure problems.
Way #3 – Correct an issue with your main feed
A break in the main feed can create a loss in water pressure. This is the worst-case scenario for your home’s water pressure, though there is some good news.
“If something breaks on the main feed, that’s a major job,” says Tom, “and you’d have to replace that line. But it’s few and far between.”
Instead, Tom advises you check inside for the root of the poor water pressure in your home.
Way #4 – Installing a new water heater or tank
If you’re wondering if a bad water heater can cause pressure loss – wonder no more.
“If a water heater bursts significantly, it could drop your water pressure,” says Tom. “If you’re out in the country, it can be something with the pressure tank or the well itself.”
But how do homeowners know if their hot water heater bursts?
“If it’s a leak inside the house, they’re going to see it nine times out of ten,” says Tom.
Call a professional plumber immediately to help you fix the problem, but first, locate your water shut off valves and close them. This will stop water from coming into your home and subsequently leaking out of your hot water heater.
Way #5 – Unclog old pipes
“In the municipalities where I work, it’s 95 percent city pressure, which usually isn’t an issue,” says Tom. “When there are water pressure issues, they’re almost exclusively due to the piping inside the house.”
Low water pressure generally occurs in older homes where iron piping has become filled with rust. You’ll see a gradual loss of water pressure in the home, particularly on the hot side.
Explains Tom, “If they have pressure loss, it’s mostly due to older galvanized pipes. You’ll need to upgrade to copper or other materials.”
Tom’s business completes this type of plumbing upgrade weekly in the Chicago area.
How to save your home’s water pressure
The best thing you can do for your home is to prevent low water pressure from happening in the first place. Performing routine maintenance is one way homeowners can keep their water pressure at the normal level, 60 to 80 psi (pounds per square inch).
“You can check the exposed piping while you’re performing home maintenance,” says Tom. “If the hot water heater looks like it’s getting damaged or leaking or the galvanized iron pipe shows signs of rust – we can head it off, but it can be expensive.”
An annual inspection can also highlight a potential plumbing problem with water pressure (as well as plumbing fixtures) and help you mitigate issues before they worsen.
“We would see a significant drop off or low pressure at some different areas that we could address,” says Tom.
Stay on top of home maintenance
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