How to Increase Water Pressure in Your Home - Bob Vila

By Jill Lawrence O'Hara and Tom Scalisi and Bob Vila Staff | Updated Oct 31, 2023 3:09 PM

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How to Increase Water Pressure in Your Home - Bob Vila

Starting or ending a long day with a weak shower is pretty unsatisfying, if not downright frustrating. When other around-the-house fixes rank as higher priorities, sometimes you just learn to live with poor water pressure. Even though you may tolerate a trickle, you should probably treat friends and family who come for a visit to something better.

Don’t let low water pressure ruin your reputation as the host with the most! Resolve to finally achieve a healthy flow of water—for you and your houseguests—by trying these solutions for how to increase water pressure. Some are quick fixes and others, more extensive projects.

First things first: Contact your neighbors to see if they are experiencing similar problems with their water pressure. If they are, the issue may be with the city’s municipal water system. Just like your home’s piping, citywide systems are subject to leaks, clogs, buildup, and corrosion.

Some homes receive water from a city’s municipal water supply, while others have wells drilled deep into the ground. The cause of your water pressure problems could be the well, or the well pump supplying water to the home.

For instance, centrifugal-style well pumps don’t operate particularly well with deep wells. Likewise, a submersible pump that’s gone unserviced might be starting to lack. Jet pumps, while good for most well depths, also need maintenance from time to time.

If the well can’t keep up with the home’s water needs, you might need to drill a new one to keep up with the demand.

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Before calling your local water department, you can test the city water pressure yourself by using a water pressure test gauge with a hose connection. Simply screw the device onto a hose faucet and turn on the tap, having first made sure that the rest of your home’s faucets and any water-using appliances (for example, the dishwasher and washing machine) are turned off.

According to experts, 45 or 50 psi is on the low side, 60 is a good reading, and 80 or above is too high. After you have either ruled out or confirmed a citywide pressure problem, you can decide which steps to take next.

Over time, your pipes can develop a buildup of mineral deposits, and the situation can be particularly bad if you have hard water. In extreme cases, the diameter of the pipes decreases until they clog, preventing the water from freely flowing through, and killing the house water pressure. This leaves you with a pitiful drip in the shower or a paltry trickle from the faucet.

While extreme cases require that you replace sections of pipe, you can handle some clogs on your own. In fact, you can tackle the blockages at your system’s exit points by dissolving any minerals that are gumming up the works inside your faucet fixtures and shower heads.

Simply place an open ziplock bag filled with vinegar over your shower head or faucet, tie it in place with some string, and leave it overnight to soak. Rinse off your cleaned fittings the next morning, and put your bathroom back together. If this trick doesn’t increase water pressure and you believe there is a more severe mineral clog inside the pipes, call in a plumber to assess and correct the problem.

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This solution requires little more than a few minutes of investigative work. Your house has a main water valve, usually located near the meter; the valve controls the flow of water into your home’s pipes. Find the valve and check to see if it’s completely open. Opening a half-shut valve is one of the quickest ways for increasing home water pressure.

Sometimes the main valve is turned off accidentally during routine repairs and maintenance without the homeowner’s knowledge. If, for example, your drop in water pressure coincides with recent work you’ve had done on the home, the contractor may have turned off the main water supply and, at the end of the job, only partially reopened the valve. The result: restricted water flow and reduced pressure. Fortunately, the valve is easy to adjust yourself—there’s no need to call a plumber for this.

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Many homes that rely on public water have a water pressure regulator (also called a pressure reducing valve). The regular ensures water doesn’t rush through the pipes and cause water hammer, and is typically is located either at the meter or where the service line enters the home. When the regulator goes bad the pressure gradually drops, causing a loss in velocity that affects some or all of the fixtures in your home.

To solve the problem, reset or replace this part, or—better yet—hire a plumber to do the work for you. If you don’t have a plumber, try using HomeAdvisor, an online platform (and partner) that makes it easy to find qualified, vetted local pros.

Cracked or damaged pipes may result in water leaks that siphon off water as it travels through your pipes, leaving you with just a trickle at the tap. To determine whether your main pipe is damaged, make sure all indoor and outdoor faucets indoors are shut off, then turn off the water valve in your home and write down the number that appears on your water meter. Return in 2 hours and take the meter reading again. An increased reading is a sign of a leak, and a sign that it may be time to call in a plumber.

Galvanized steel pipes are particularly vulnerable to corrosion over time, so if you decide to upgrade your pipes choose superior plastic or copper pipes. You should feel no pressure to DIY this particular fix: Replacing pipes requires the skills of a professional plumber.

While it’s a costly project, pipe replacement will do more than improve your showering experience and increase water pressure. In addition to boosting water pressure and minimizing the chance of future leaks, swapping out old plumbing for new can reduce the risk that corrosives will contaminate your drinking water, resulting in better-quality H2O.

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If you’re still wondering, “Why is my water pressure occasionally so bad?” it may be that the problem isn’t you, it’s the neighborhood. That’s no surprise: Gravity and distance are two factors that negatively impact water pressure. If your household water supply is forced to travel uphill or over a great distance from the municipal water source, its pressure may be hindered. To increase the flow rate of the water when it reaches your home, consider installing a water pressure booster pump.

Most water pressure booster pumps run $200 to $400, though some are considerably more expensive. Of course, that price doesn’t include the cost of installation (which is best left to a master plumber) and the potential increase in your monthly electric bill.

Those are some of the best ways to troubleshoot low water pressure in a home. With a bit of research, a little investigation, some know-how, and maybe a little professional help, you should be able to improve house water pressure in almost any scenario.

Whether it’s installing a home water pressure booster or simply opening a half-shut valve, the advice in this guide should help you turn a trickle at the tap into a more vigorous flow of water.

After reviewing this information about how to fix water pressure, you may still have a few questions. The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about how to increase water pressure.

There could be any number of reasons. For one, your well could be running dry, or the well pump could be on the fritz. Also, a half-shut supply valve or leaks could be robbing potential pressure. It could simply be an issue of gravity, in which case a home water pressure booster pump might be necessary.

A pump might be necessary to increase residential water pressure, but there are other things you can try before buying a pump. For one, tracking down leaks in the system could be a solution. Also, opening a half-shut supply valve that could otherwise reduce flow would do the trick. Replacing corroded and clogged pipes should also improve low water pressure.

There could be a gravity issue, which means that a booster pump is most likely necessary. Also, check to make sure that any control valves are completely open, as a half-shut control valve can reduce flow, which ultimately kills water pressure.

If you are experiencing low water pressure in the shower, try cleaning the shower head with a vinegar solution as outlined above. Otherwise, consider replacing the head altogether and choosing a shower head with a replaceable filter.

When only hot water pressure is suffering, there are a few things worth checking:

It could also be that you have problems with the expansion tank, but those issues typically increase water pressure.

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How to Increase Water Pressure in Your Home - Bob Vila

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