What's Up With The Water? Finding The Cause Of Low Water Pressure

If you're a condo owner or homeowner who keeps turning on faucets to find that the water pressure is rather low, you're not alone. It's a common problem with many causes. But that doesn't mean you just have to live with it. If you can find the cause and remedy it, that's perfect. But if you can't, you still have options.

Upper Stories

A very common but not a well-known cause of low water pressure is living on an upper story of a building. If you're in a building that has apartment-style condos, for example, and you're on an upper floor, you might see the water pressure drop in the morning on weekdays when everyone in the building is getting ready. It's very common for sinks to be OK but for toilets to refill very slowly.

If you can change your schedule so that your main water use falls outside that time, that can help. Otherwise, you may want to talk to the condo association about installing a water booster pump. The same thing can happen if you live in a multi-story house with many people all trying to use the faucets at the same time.

Clogged Pipes

Just as clogged drains can make them run slow, clogged pipes can make the water pressure seem very low as the water tries to make it out of your faucets. The cause of a clog varies from gunk in the pipes to tree roots in the water lines outside. You can locate the approximate location of the clog by seeing which faucets are affected by the low pressure; for example, if all the faucets on the second floor are low but the first floor is doing fine, the clog is in a pipe in the house somewhere between the floors. If all of the faucets have low-pressure including your sprinklers (and you're not on a pressurized irrigation system that uses a different source of water than city drinking water), then the problem could be in a water line leading to your house.

City Problem

Sometimes the city you're in has a citywide water pressure problem. A pump at the local reservoir might not be working right, or rocks from a limestone-lined aquifer could be clogging intake pipes, among other potential causes. In this case, you have to keep in touch with the city to see what it's doing to solve the problem, but in the meantime a water booster could help you.

Have a plumber inspect the home's pipes (or ask your condo association to call one in to check out the complex), and if the cause is not something you can fix, talk to the plumber about getting a water booster for your home or building.