Mar 17, 2019

How to Improve Low Water Pressure


What do we mean by low water pressure?  Basically, when you turn on your tap, shower, washing machine etc. the water is coming out slower and with less force than it should. Sometimes this occurs over a period of time without you noticing until the flow slows gradually to a trickle.

There are different reasons for reduced water pressure and some of them are very easily solved with a little bit of DIY.
1.      Taps, Showers and Machines

If the water pressure is low through specific taps or shower heads, the most likely cause is blockage in the final exit point of the water from dirt, lime-scale (a buildup of calcium) and rust.

a)      Taps

Most taps have an aerator, a small mesh filter where the water exits.  This catches the dirt particles and can also help to stop water splashing or coming out too forcefully  Over time it can become blocked and will affect the speed the water exits the tap in a negative way. 

With some faucets, you can unscrew these by hand, but in most cases you will need pliers or a wrench.  Be sure to place a piece of cloth around the area before you apply the pliers so that you don’t damage the stainless steel.

Once you have removed the aerator, turn on the tap and check there is now good pressure.  If there is, you know this was the problem.  Also have a quick clean up of the inside of the tap with a soft bottle brush.

Then simply brush gently to remove debris and run clean water through it before reassembling. 

b)      Showers

As the water slows to a dribble from your shower head, the most common reason will be because it is blocked.

The first thing you should do is disassemble as much of the shower head as you can, depending on the model.  There are commercial lime-scale removers available but I find the soaking the parts in white vinegar for approximately 6 hours works perfectly and doesn’t damage any plastic parts.

Once the soaking is finished, brush all the parts with a soft brush and poke a piece of wire through all the holes to get rid of remaining traces.  Then simply reassemble and shower under a waterfall!

(You might need to do this a couple of times for badly blocked shower heads.)

c)       Washing Machines, Dishwashers, Ice Making Machines

Most machines which are connected directly to the water supply will be affected by low water pressure.  Many of these machines will have alert systems to tell you not enough water is available to them.

In these cases, disconnect from mains electricity before doing any work.

Making sure all water has been drained first so as to avoid a flood in your kitchen or laundry room, disconnect the pipes from the back of your machines and clean all the filters and pipe tips with vinegar and a soft brush.  You can also try poking a piece of wire in any metal holes but avoid poking down plastic tubing with metal wire.  A Q-tip can also help smaller holes.

Once reconnected, you should find the water flow has improved.

2.      Toilets

Toilets work by flushing enough water into the bowl to create a suction that removes the waste down the pipe system.  If your toilet flushes slowly and incompletely you need to look at one of the following possible causes:

a)      Tank (Cistern) Is Not Filling Properly or Quickly

Open the lid of the tank and check if the water is filling to approximately one inch below the drainage hole.  If it’s not, move the float upwards until it does.

If the water flow into the tank is low, check the pipes to make sure they are not blocked or leaking.

Finally, check that the small holes underneath the rim of the toilet bowl are not blocked.  They allow water to cover the entire bowl as it flushes through and can be cleaned with dishwashing liquid and a brush alongside a small piece of wire to poke around and remove all the debris.

b)      Water Exiting the Toilet

If the problem is not in the tank and there is plenty of water for the flush, then the problem is usually a blockage in the drainage pipes that is stopping the waste leaving the bowl properly.  You can try toilet anti-blocking chemicals, (or try the more organic method of pouring one cup of baking soda into the bowl and then2 cups of white vinegar, wait 3 hours and then flush)  and then use a plunger to try and move whatever is down there that shouldn’t be.

If this fails, you can rent a toilet auger (or toilet snake) which you can thread through the pipes and dislodge blockages which are deeper in the system.

3.      Low Water Pressure throughout Your Home

If the water pressure is not limited to one pipe or outlet, you should check your water valves as well as ensuring water is not escaping in the wrong places:

a)      PRV (Pressure Release Valve)

This is a bell shaped valve, usually found where the water mains pipe enters your home.  Gently turn the screw on the top a tiny amount.  Try it in both directions but usually clockwise will increase pressure.  A small turn can make a huge difference so be careful

b)      Shut-Off Valve

Most homes have a shut-off valve either near the PRV or near the actual water meter.   If this has been turned slightly, it can reduce pressure so make sure this valve is fully open.

c)       Leaks

It is relatively easy to do a visual check on all your taps, toilets, water outlets etc.  But leaks can occur in hidden places.  The best way to check this is to take a reading of your water meter and then, without using any water (difficult I know!), take another reading 4 hours later.  The result should be the same.  If not, you have a significant leak and need to call a plumber.


The above points will solve most of the problems but, if none of these succeed, then call the professionals.  Too much amateur DIY behavior can lead to a very high bill for their work!

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