If you’ve ever been taking a shower and have suddenly lost water pressure, well… you know exactly how frustrating it can be. This inconvenience may also lead you to ask questions like ‘why is this happening,’ and ‘how can I fix it?’ You are not alone in this struggle, and there are some clearly defined answers.
Most often, when you experience a sudden loss of water pressure, a leak in your pipes is the culprit. Sometimes, though, the cause could also be related to an issue with your water supplier, which would need to be addressed on a larger scale. The issue might also be your pressure regulator, fixtures, or valves in your home.
With all of these potential reasons, it might feel overwhelming to start addressing the problem of low water pressure. Never fear, that’s why we are here! We’ll go over the most common reasons you might experience low water pressure, as well as solutions. We’ll even touch on what you can do yourself, and when you’ll want to call a professional.
There are many reasons that your water pressure may have dropped. Some might have to do with your space and its mechanisms, while others will be a result of your water supply company.
You could have a leak in your home or your building, which could be caused by a few different issues. On top of that, you might realize that you have a broken fixture or water valves that are not doing their job.
Perhaps your water supplier is having issues, or your apartment complex is working on the water systems, and it is affecting your unit. The pipes may be corroded or clogged, or it could be due to a failure of your pressure regulator.
Regardless of the cause, it’s good to know what you are dealing with. We’ll go over the 7 most common reasons for losing water pressure in the order of which is the easiest to solve.
Common Reasons Why Your Water Pressure is Suddenly Low
1. Your Water Supplier is Having Issues – Easiest to Solve
In certain cases, your home and its mechanisms might not have anything to do with the loss of water pressure that you experience. It could, instead, have to do with anything from a burst pipe to a lull at the water treatment plant.
Whatever the reason, if your water supplier is to blame, you will expect to hear that your neighbors are also left without water. This can be a good way to determine whether the water supplier is at fault, or if the issue is localized to your home.
The good news is that, if your water supplier is having issues, they will be the ones coming up with a solution. Simply get in touch with the customer service line for updates.
2. Your Pressure Regulator is Failing – Easy to Solve
First, what on earth is a pressure regulator? This is an optional fixture that can help you regulate your home’s water pressure.
If you have had one installed, you’ll be able to check and see if the pressure is being read incorrectly, which may have led to a drop in pressure. Sometimes this happens, especially as a pressure regulator gets older.
It’s easy for it to misread the numbers and reduce the flow of water to your home for a while. You can avoid much of the work that other causes might require when it comes to fixing your water pressure, so this one is easy to solve.
3. You Have a Leak – Easy to Solve
A leak is another extremely common cause of loss of water pressure and is easy enough to solve. Any time your pipes have a leak, water pressure will inherently dip because of the interruption to the flow of water. Water will drain out of the leak, instead of flowing forward to your sinks, toilets, and showers. So, if you notice that any of your fixtures are lacking their usual pressure, a leak could be likely.
Looking for another indication that a leak is to blame? Just one or two of your fixtures will have decreased pressure. You can look for any water around your house and listen for any hissing or dripping sounds to help determine that a leak is occurring.
4. Your Fixture is Broken – Easy to Solve
While your first thought might be your pipes when you experience lessened pressure, a localized pressure loss could be the result of a broken fixture. This means that your faucet itself could be compromised.
Often, older fixtures may have buildup, cracks, or other damage that slows the flow of water.
Replacing your fixtures is easy, but you can always try cleaning out the aerator (filter at the end of the faucet) first, to make sure that water has every opportunity to flow through it. Otherwise, you’ll have to disassemble your faucet to get a deeper look.
5. There is an Issue with Your Water Valves – More Complex to Solve
When it comes to water valves, there are a few potential culprits for loss of water pressure. This can make it a more complex issue to solve, because you’ll end up needing to check your water heater valve, the main shutoff valve, and your water meter valve.
Your main shutoff valve can turn off all water to your home. So, if it gets bumped or stuck, you might experience a drop in water pressure. The same goes for your water heater’s valve, though that would only affect the hot water pressure.
The water meter valve is the most complicated one to have an issue with, because it is not as easy to adjust. It could get bumped or partially closed if construction has recently been done in your area but would need fixed by your water supply company.
6. You Have a Clogged Pipe – More Complex to Solve
Water supply pipe clogs are not nearly as common as a clog in drainpipes, and therefore they sometimes go unnoticed. A clog or blockage in your pipe will keep the full amount of water from moving freely and will leave you with less water pressure.
Some things that could clog your pipe include tree branches, leaves, debris, or other small items. Perhaps a tree root has somehow blocked, or even squeezed, your pipe, leaving it with less space for water.
This must be handled carefully. You can’t rely on the kind of chemicals that you would with other plumbing clogs but will need someone with an auger to come in and skillfully push out any debris.
7. Your Pipes are Corroding – Most Difficult to Solve
Corrosion is just minerals and water building up to create a gunk that makes your pipes have less space for water. This results in lower water pressure, because there is less room for water to make its way through to your faucets.
This only occurs in older homes, with metal pipes made of copper, steal, or iron.
Corroding pipes are nothing to write home about, but they are a bit more difficult to fix. More likely than not, you’ll need your pipes to be replaced altogether to avoid future issues that have worse consequences, like bursting. For this reason, corroded pipes are the biggest pain to deal with on the list.
What To Do When You Suddenly Lose Water Pressure
When it comes to solving the issue of a loss in water pressure, there are a few different steps that you can take. To begin, it is important to determine the scope of your issue. This might make the difference between you solving it on your own or calling in a professional for some immediate assistance.
You should check fixtures and appliances, like your hot water heater and water pressure regulator, to see if there might be a simple answer to your question of, ‘What is causing this leak?’
As you’re checking your home, you should also be checking for leaks that might be causing localized water pressure issues.
1. Determine the Scope of the Issue
Your first step should be to determine how big the problem truly is. It could be localized to one single faucet, or even one room of your home. Perhaps, instead, your entire home is experiencing this loss in pressure. Maybe, though, you check in with your neighbors and find out that they are experiencing the same issue.
When you find out the scope of the problem, you also eliminate some possible causes of your low water pressure.
A localized issue isn’t going to be caused by your water supplier or your household water pressure regulator, for example. A household issue isn’t going to likely be the result of a small leak, and a neighborhood-wide issue won’t be the result of a corroded pipe in your walls.
2. Check On your Hot Water Heater
One way to easily rule out one cause is to see whether you have cold water pressure but lack pressure when it comes to your hot water. This indicates that there is an issue with your water heater and its valves.
You can easily check your hot water heater by checking its shut-off valve first. This is located either on or next to the heater, and can sometimes be left closed or bumped a bit, which decreases water pressure.
If the valve is open, you could have a buildup of sediment, but would need a professional to confirm this.
3. Check your Water Pressure Regulator
Luckily, your water pressure regulator misreading the values is easy enough to solve. You’ll want to ensure that it is in fact the problem, of course, before taking any action.
How exactly should you do that?
To read the rating and test your regulator, you can attach a water pressure gauge to the spigot nearest your regulator. If the numbers don’t line up closely, it’s likely that your regulator is to blame.
What’s even more fortunate, is that the regulator is both easy (and cheap) to replace. You should plan to replace this every so often, to avoid sudden dips in pressure that might occur at inconvenient times.
4. Look for Leaks
As you are going around your house to check in on valves, your pressure regulator, and other causes, you should be scoping out any leaks that might have sprung up.
Some leaks are obvious, with water staining or dripping onto the floor, loud hissing or dripping noises, or discoloration. These tend to be drain leaks, which are most noticeable due to their proximity to you.
Plumbing leaks, on the other hand, are not quite so obvious because they happen further back, behind walls, cabinets, and other fixtures.
The best, easiest way to confirm a leak, without a doubt, is to check the leak indicator, which is located on your water meter. If you think you have a leak, but can’t find it, call a professional for help.
When Should I Call a Professional?
If you notice that your water pressure has decreased drastically, and your neighbors aren’t having the same issue, it may be wise to get in touch with a professional.
When it comes to leaks, pipes that are clogged or corroding, or an issue with your water values or hot water tank, you’ll need some support that goes beyond what you can DIY.
So, when you see that your water pressure has lowered, you should take the following action:
- Determine the scope of your problem, is it localized to a room or your entire house, or is it a neighborhood issue?
- Check for leaks, valves that are partially closed, clogs or corrosion in pipes, the accuracy of your pressure regulator, and the function of your fixtures.
- DIY any solutions that you feel equipped to but call a professional as soon as you see the need.
If all else fails, you might simply have shared pipelines, that run water to your home and those of a couple neighbors. Inherently, you’ll lose some water pressure when more than one of you are using water.
We hope that isn’t the case, and that one of these solutions can help you on your way back to strong water pressure!
Ruben has a diverse background in the home services industry, with experience running a construction company, a kitchen and bath showroom, and a moving and relocation company. This breadth of experience has provided him with a wealth of knowledge and expertise in various areas of home improvement in general and specifically in the heating and plumbing niche.