What Causes Low Water Pressure in My House?

Leaks, buildup and other issues can cause low water pressure, but solving the problem often requires a plumber. (Photo by Summer Galyan)

Leaks, buildup and other issues can cause low water pressure, but solving the problem often requires a plumber. (Photo by Summer Galyan)

Many homeowners have experienced the irritation of dealing with low water pressure at least once. Low water pressure makes simple daily activities, such as showering or washing your dishes, frustrating and time-consuming, but finding the cause can be the most irksome aspect of this common plumbing problem.

So what causes low water pressure? Here are some of the usual suspects, as well as some possible solutions:

1. Debris and mineral buildup

Debris — such as sand, dirt, and pollutants — can enter your home's pipes when a water main fractures. Even without a fractured line, your pipes are susceptible to mineral buildup from the deposits that water leaves behind when traveling through your pipes.

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Even a small amount of sediment can create a blockage in your home's plumbing that become one of the causes of low water pressure throughout the home.

The solution to this problem is to examine a section of the pipe to determine if a mineral buildup is the problem. If this is the case, plumbing chemicals that break down and flush out the debris can solve the problem more often than not.

2. Corrosion buildup

Although your steel or galvanized water piping systems are intended to last up to 20 years, the insides of these pipes tend to block the flow of water with natural corrosion over the years. In terms of repairing, there isn't much that homeowners can do to completely rectify this problem.

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However, replacing the pipes completely is a perfectly viable solution. You should expect a long and somewhat expensive process, but the positive aspect is that it only has to be done a few times in a lifetime.

3. Leaks

It's more or less evident that a leak in your home's plumbing system will reduce the water pressure throughout the home simply because not all of the water is flowing toward its proper place.

To determine if you have a leak, shut off all of the water taps both in and out of your home, and then record the meter. Come back a couple of hours later to see if the meter has changed. If your water usage has increased at all from your first recording, there's a good chance you have a leak that needs to be repaired by a plumbing professional.

4. Municipal water supply malfunctions

Sometimes your problems with low water pressure may have nothing to do with your home's piping system. It may be caused by a malfunction in your area's municipal water supply.

Just like your own piping, these systems are subject to leaks, buildups and other problems that can affect the water supply and water pressure. Fortunately, you can call your local municipal water supply department to determine if the municipal water systems is the issue and if the problems will be corrected quickly.

If you've determined that your home's low water pressure is a problem best suited for a professional, check Angie's List for highly rated plumbers in your neighborhood.


Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally posted on Jan. 4, 2012.


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