Many people like to start off or end their day with a nice relaxing shower, and nothing can ruin a shower faster than low water pressure. Having low water pressure isn’t something that anyone needs to live with on a day to day basis. In some cases, a simple adjustment may be all that’s required in order to get better water pressure for your home. Let’s take a closer look at some common causes of low water pressure issues and how you can attempt to fix them.
Examining the Shower Head
When you have low water pressure during showering the first place many people look to for answer is their shower head. A shower head is required to reduce the amount of water to a certain volume per minute. This is a water saving measure, but the shower head can sometimes be too effective at reducing the volume of water for showering effectively.
There are shower heads available that are more effective at delivering a good level of water pressure for showering. They are not too expensive, but it’s important to look at the amount of water that they will produce per minute. The flow of water is dictated by a washer inside the shower head and if this is too narrow the flow of water will be impeded too much. Some people remove the washer and widen the aperture with a drill to allow more water to pass through the shower head. This can be effective, but be careful not to make the hole too wide or your shower will be too forceful.
The flow of water can also be reduced if there is a blockage inside your existing shower head. If you take it apart, you may notice clumps of hair or debris from water hardening minerals that have built up inside the unit. The shower head can be cleaned thoroughly, and stubborn calcium deposits can be removed by soaking the shower head in vinegar overnight. In many cases, this will clear the shower head nozzles, and the water pressure for showering will be improved.
Plumbing Pipe Problems
If you’ve attempted to clean or replace your shower head and the water pressure for showering is still sub-par, it’s time to look at your plumbing pipes. Newer homes now have plumbing systems made from PVC or UPVC rather than older metallic materials. These new plastic pipes are easier to work with, and they don’t have a lot of the negative properties of materials, such as zinc and lead.
Many older homes have galvanized pipes that are coated in a thin layer of molten zinc. These are no longer used because they have a tendency to corrode over time and this will cause leaks. At first, these will be tiny pinhole leaks that will gradually lower the water pressure to your plumbing fixtures. Eventually, the leaks will further develop into larger cracks, and more water will escape. As the layer of zinc corrodes it will break off the internal surface walls of the pipe and this material can cause blockages. The water passing through this section of affected pipe may be tainted with copper as if flows over rusted pieces of metal. This isn’t a particular threat to health, but it can make the water unpalatable to drink and harder to use around the home.
The water leaks caused by corroded plumbing pipes will reduce the water pressure in your home. This will affect the water pressure throughout the home including your shower, and there are other problems to consider. Water leaks will cause water damage; tiny pinhole leaks can persist for a long time before they are detected and there may be hidden damage. More extensive leaks are easier to spot, but the volume of water is higher, and this can cause a great deal of damage in a shorter period of time. Water damage can be extensive, and it’s expensive to fix, so it makes sense to get any leaks fixed as soon as possible. If you notice any damp patches on floors, walls or ceilings, get in touch with a local certified plumber straight away. They will be able to locate the source of the leak and fix it before it gets worse.
Replacing Plumbing Pipes
Any plumbing pipe made from galvanized metal should be replaced every 30-40 years depending on their condition. These plumbing materials have been overtaken by better alternatives, such as copper, PVC, and UPVC. Many people, don’t know what material their plumbing pipes are made from and this can be confirmed with a simple scratch test. If you scratch a plumbing pipe made from copper, there will be a copper colored scratch. But, if you scratch a galvanized plumbing pipe, you will reveal a silvery gray color instead.
A copper plumbing pipe is better able to avoid problems related to corrosion and a build-up of contaminants that can affect the water pressure in your home. So, if you have galvanized pipes and you have low water pressure, it’s likely that you have a corroded plumbing pipe problem. This can also be confirmed by examining the exposed section of pipe for telltale signs of orange rust deposits on the pipe surface.
How You Can Fix Your Low Water Pressure Problems?
The corrosion and associated rust present in plumbing pipes aren’t much of a health risk, but it will lower your water pressure. Installing water filters on your taps may help with minor water quality issues, but it will not solve the underlying water pressure problem. Eventually, you will need to replace your plumbing pipes with new pipes made from more suitable modern materials. Although it is possible to change affected sections of pipe, it makes better sense to replace all of the aging pipes at the same time to avoid compatibility issues. Contact your local certified plumber for expert help and advice on how you can replace your plumbing pipes and improve the water pressure in your home.
By Giovanni Longo President Flood Brothers Plumbing
Giovanni Longo is a 3rd generation master plumber who has been practicing his craft and trade in the greater Los Angeles area for well over a decade and a half. A plumbing and hydraulics-engineering innovator, Giovanni’s particular world-class expertise focuses on dealing with challenging sewer system designs as well as resolving complex commercial and residential draining issues. As a certified Flood Mitigation expert, he is also well versed in a wide variety of water damage and remediation solution.