Don’t Let Low Pressure Problems Get Your Residents Down

By: Bill Eller

Sometimes more pressure is a good thing!

Your residents turn on the shower and get a weak drizzle or can’t run the sink and washer at the same time without the water slowing to a sluggish trickle – they have low water pressure.

Low water pressure usually is caused by clogged pipes, especially galvanized steel pipes, which have a rough interior which provides the perfect environment for mineral build-up. If residential pipes are clogged, they will either have to be replaced, in the case of galvanized pipes, or removed and the mineral build-up removed before being replaced, in the case of copper pipes. In both cases, the work should be done by a licensed and insured plumber.

To eliminate other causes before calling in a plumber, homeowners should check the water shutoff value near the water meter to see if it is fully open, or contact their local water service provider and request a pressure reading.

The optimal pressure for households is between 45 pounds per square inch, or PSI, and 55 PSI, according to the Family Handyman. Less than 40 PSI will result in low water pressure in the home and above 80 PSI will wear out the washers on plumbing fixtures, waste water and damage water heaters, faucets and appliances.

Low PSI in the home can result from an obstruction in the pipes or a leak in the water main. To check for a leak, homeowners should visually inspect the area where the water main comes into the home, usually the basement or garage.

They should also inspect the area outside the home where the water main comes into the building. The outside inspection should be conducted after there have been several dry days to see if there is an area where the ground is soggy. If there is a suspected leak between the home and where the service line meets the utility line, then a resident will need professional help – and homeowners may be unaware they are responsible for repairs to their service line. As these repairs can be costly, a water service line repair plan can protect homeowners from an unforeseen expense.

If only one or two fixtures have low pressure, the fixtures may be causing the problem. An aerator in the faucet can be checked by unscrewing it from the bottom of the faucet and disassembling it, according to Bob Vila. If there is mineral buildup, soaking the parts in white vinegar overnight and then scrubbing with a toothbrush and rinsing before re-assembling them might remedy the issue. Shower heads also can be soaked in a mixture of white vinegar and water for several hours.

If low water pressure is associated with running hot water, the water heater’s shut-off valve should be checked to assure it is open. If the problem persists, a professional should be consulted.

The National League of Cities (NLC) Service Line Warranty Program, administered by Utility Service Partners, a HomeServe company, was conceived in partnership with the NLC to educate property owners about their service line responsibilities and to help residents avoid the out-of-pocket expense for service line repairs. Contact us to learn more about how the NLC Service Line Warranty Program can benefit your community.

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