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If you’re experiencing fluctuations in shower water pressure, don’t brush the issue off. The problem could be more severe than you imagine, potentially involving serious problems like leaking or cracked water pipes, and may require professional intervention before snowballing into a home plumbing disaster.

How to Diagnose Low Water Pressure

If your water pressure seems low, the first step should be to test how much pressure you’re actually getting from the shower head. A typical home’s water pressure should be somewhere between 45 to 55 psi (pounds per square inch). You can test the pressure by hooking up a simple pressure gauge to an outside spigot close to the main water supply line. The washing machine’s cold water line is another good place to test household water pressure. Anything below 40 psi is considered low and generally indicates a problem with the water pressure coming into the house.

5 Reasons for Low Water Pressure in the Shower

Sometimes, however, the problem is somewhere inside the house. We’ve outlined the five most common factors that contribute to irregular or poor shower pressure here along with some insights into what you can do right away to restore your shower head pressure to its intended amount. While some of these causes can be addressed through your own DIY repair efforts, others may require you to reach out to an experienced plumbing professional.

Pressure Regulator Devices

If your shower head pressure has abruptly dropped for no discernible reason, there’s a decent chance that your home’s water pressure regulator, which is typically set to maintain water pressure between 45 and 60 psi, may be malfunctioning. If this is the case, you may want to contact a specially trained plumber, instead of attempting repairs on your own. Improper installation of water pressure regulators can lead to even further, more expensive drain repair problems.

Home Water Valves

Sudden decreases in shower head water pressure could also be attributed to accidental shutoff of your home water valves, which are the main control valves of water into your home, typically located in a home’s water meter box. To resolve this relatively minor issue, locate your home water valve and make sure it is completely set to the “on” position. Even slight or accidental “off” positioning can significantly alter home water pressure. The best thing about offset home water valves is that the issue is extremely simple to fix.

Using Showers During Peak Periods

Sometimes, low water pressure from shower heads is due to something entirely outside of your home and home plumbing system. If you frequently use your shower during peak periods, such as early in the morning or at night, there’s a chance the performance issue is due to high water use within your neighborhood or building. If you believe this is the case, test your water pressure at other low-use periods, periods where local water consumption would be lower than it is immediately before work hours or when residents in your community return home from work.

Mineral Accumulation Within Pipes 

In older homes, or those with outdated plumbing systems that heavily feature galvanized pipe, mineral accumulation (which develops over time) is a common cause of low shower pressure. Despite your best efforts, there’s little you can do on your own to avoid mineral deposits and accumulation over time. It’s also quite difficult to remove the mineral deposits within pipes on your own. In these cases, you should contact a trained plumbing expert in your area right away to repair or replace your pipes.

Pipe Leaks

If worse comes to worst and you cannot identify the cause of your low shower water pressure with any other means, there’s a chance your low pressure is the direct result of pipe leaking or fracturing. As water escapes through these leaks, less and less of it will be able to reach your shower heads and other drain fixtures. If this is the case with your home plumbing system, there’s little you can do to resolve the issue other than contacting a trained, professional plumbing technician in your area. These specialists can use video inspection equipment to fully evaluate the integrity of your pipes and use this knowledge to suggest the best possible repair solutions for your damaged plumbing.

What You Can Do to Resolve the Issue

Sometimes, resolving low water pressure in the shower is an easy fix, and can be tended to with simple DIY efforts. On the other hand, the problem could be less with your water pressure and valve and more with the integrity of your home’s plumbing pipes themselves. If you are having consistent trouble locating the source of your poor shower pressure, or feel you require an outside expert’s help to restore your home plumbing system, don’t hesitate to contact a professional today.

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Topics: Water Bills, Repairs, Leaks, Pressure, Home Plumbing Tips