Should you buy a home with low water pressure?
One of the trickier bits to evaluating a house you’re looking to potentially buy is knowing how good the plumbing is. The vast majority of plumbing is hidden from plain sight, and problems may not be visible at all. One of the things you may be sure of when evaluating a home is the water pressure. This might seem like a relatively minor issue, but in reality, low water pressure can be a symptom of a bigger problem or cause performance issues in large appliances.
There are some simple steps you can take to see if water pressure in a home is low. This test cannot tell you if the water pressure is just slightly lower than what it should be, but if it’s much lower than it should be, this test will reveal it. Turn on the kitchen sink and have someone stand and watch the water, and then have someone else go to the nearest bathroom and flush the toilet. If the water pressure in the kitchen visibly drops, you may have a water pressure problem.
You can also test the water pressure by turning on the shower the farthest from the main water line. The water will have had to travel the longest distance to get to that shower and should represent the lowest pressure the house will have. Obviously, if you’re drawing from more than one source, this pressure can drop, but it should give you an idea if the house is suffering from a pressure problem.
Of course, some water pressure problems in the shower could be from a restrictor or debris in the showerhead. Here's how to test showerhead water pressure from Charlotte plumber Ed Ernest, "There's a chance some solder used on the pipes got in the system...take an adjustment wrench, remove the showerhead, turn the water on and see what kind of water you have there."
It’s also important to consider the source for the water when you think about a water pressure problem. If the house is on a well, then it’s apt to have lower pressure than a house on a city water line.
Also worth keeping in mind is drought. Dallas plumbers received many calls about water pressure calls during a drought last winter that had nothing to do with the homeowners water lines, but rather a simple effect of lack of rainfall.
If your home should have higher pressure than it does, there are some corrective steps that you can take to combat low pressure. A booster might be added onto your line as it enters the house to force the water through the pipes at a higher PSI, or smaller plumbing may be installed on the house to drive up the PSI as well.
For homeowners looking to sell and homebuyers inspecting a new home, water pressure can be a sticking point. To see what you should be on the lookout for when buying or selling a new home check out this Plumbing Checklist for Homebuyers infographic with information on water pressure, clogged drains and lead pipes.