#4 Poor water pressure
What is poor water pressure and how do we fix this problem?
Water pressure can present itself in a number of ways. One being poor pressure at the tap, the other being water pressure dropping when other taps are turned on.
In this blog we will touch one ways to pin point the pressure problems and offer solutions toward remedying these concerns.
If you wanted to give this a go yourself, you will need a gauge and a couple of shifters to investigate.
A gauge from Bunnings would be adequate. You can find one here: https://www.bunnings.com.au/holman-pressure-gauge_p3120293
1. Check to see how much water pressure the Local council guarantees you
Every council has a pressure that they try and maintain for their customers. Click on the link below to view the Gold Coast council information to get a sense of the pressures we are talking about. Taking this into account, how does your pressure compare to the pressure at your home? Over my many years as a plumber, I have seen pressures range from 300kpa right up to 1100 kpa.
2. Check the water pressure at the water meter and compare with your local council promise
If you check the water pressure and it is above 500 kpa, your home will need to have a pressure limiting device installed. This is to limit the pressure to 500 kpa, which is compliant and will protect your water system and your appliances.
If you don’t install a plv and have a big water leak, your insurance company may not pay up because of the non-plumbing compliance. Excessive pressure can also increase you chances of water hammer and noisey water pipes.
If the water meter is too hard to access, taking a pressure reading from the nearest tap also works.
3. Test the water pressure drop rate around the house
What we are looking for here is noticeable differences in pressure when we turn on more than one outlet in the house.
This time, put the gauge on the furthest tap outlet from the meter and make note of the pressure as you turn different outlets on in the house.
After you have done three or more outlet tests, try running 2-3 outlets at a time and note the pressure changes.
Ideally, you are wanting to see water pressure with very little pressure fluctuations at all. If you are however seeing significant signs of pressure loss, keep taking readings for the whole house, see if any area affects the pressure more than others, then call a plumber to help fix the problem.
4. Water pipe material
If you have galvanised pipe in your home or old copper, there is a very good chance that these are contributing to your poor pressure.
Galvanised pipe is notorious for corroding with the internal pipe size, getting smaller and smaller throughout the years. The old copper was much smaller back in the day and has since increased in size to meet our ever-changing demands.
5. Water pipe size
Whether you have a mansion or a one bedroom unit, a 20mm cold water line and 15mm hot line are reguarly the standard two sizes for plumbing in Queensland.
If however, you have a fairly big home with 2-3 or more showers (that are often used at the same time) and you are experiencing poor pressure, there is a good chance that these standard pipe sizes have been used to plumb your home. See below on how to improve this.
6. Leaking Pipe
If there is a leak, the pipes are not holding pressure therefore can not produce pressure. To find out if you have a leak:
- Turn all the taps off in and outside your home
- Put your gauge on to the tap nearest the water meter
- Turn the tap on until the gauge is fully pressurised
- Turn off the water meter
- View the water pressure for five minutes. If you have no pressure drop, then your water line is water tight and good to use. If the pressure drops, you have a leak that needs fixing.
7. Leaking Council main
If your water pressure is usually good but suddenly turns poor, you could have a leak or it could mean the water provider is doing working on the line.
Call you provider and inform them of the new pressure problems. Only call if you are sure the problem is there before your service begins.
8. New energy efficient fixtures installed on the property
A lot of the new fixtures today have water restrictors installed as part of water efficiently standards. So, if you installed a new fixture and notice a pressure change, it does not automatically mean that there is something wrong but more likely means a design change is affecting the pressure.
9. Ways to improve your water pressure
Increase pipe size
If you are planning on building a new house, share your water pressure concerns with your plumber. There are a few things your plumber could do to improve your water pressure:
- Run a bigger than normal pipe size from the water meter to the house and then continue this pipe size up until the first bathroom, only reducing after the tee piece is connected.
- Increase your hot water unit pipe size. A normal house has 15mm pipe which is susceptible to pressure drop. Ask if you can install 20mm pipe as this will nearly double the volume of hot water available to you.
If you have galvanised pipe lines, replace with either copper or a pex piping system. Both system have their benefits, read my blog article on pex pipe versus copper – it may help you decide which one best suits your situation.
Water filters are a constant source of poor water pressure. Water filters, from the word go, affect the water pressure and only get worse as the filters do their job. If not properly maintained, water filters can block up and cause serious pressure problems.
Firstly make sure your filter is suitable for your situation and then ensure it is checked and changed periodically.
If, for some reason, your water supply quality is poor and you are having to change filters regularly to prevent poor pressure, you need to consider installing a pre-filter filter. This basically is a low maintenance filter used to capture most of the particulars before the primary filter which can extend the life of your primary filter.
Visit the link below to get a sense of what this looks like (this option is cheap to purchase and install and is not to overly ambitious for a DIY project):
A lot of taps contain strainers, aerators and water restrictors – all of which affect water pressure and flow rates. My biggest advice here is to start a periodic cleaning schedule of these filters.
The aerator/strainer is at the outlet end of your tap spout. You will need a shifter or spanned to loosen this off. Once loose, remove and wash out any grit or dirt inside and return to the tap. You should notice an instant improvement in pressure if there was grit or dirt present.
I have known aerators to be blocked without allowing any water through, so it pays to be vigilant. If you are unsure about doing this call a plumber to do it for you.
If you need any further assistance, feel free to reach out to Yates Plumbing and Gas. We are local Brisbane plumbers, with a passion for excellence. Our friendly qualified team can help you with all of your plumbing and gas needs.
If you require more information or would like to book our service, please email on [email protected] or call us on 0437 827 502