Causes of bad water pressure How to Diagnose & Repair Poor Water Pressure or Lost Water Pressure at Buildings
     


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Troubleshooting building water pressure problems:

How to fix bad water pressure or loss of water pressure in buildings: this article describes how and why to distinguish among intermittent water pressure loss, total water pressure loss, and poor water pressure or flow in a building.

We give diagnostic and repair procedures for both municipal water supply problems and well water supply problems. If you don't see information you want, ask us for it using the comments box at the end of this article.

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How do we diagnose poor water pressure or loss of water pressure in a building, and what are the common causes and repairs for this problem?

Water pressure regulator (C) Daniel FriedmanThe process of lost water pressure diagnosis in buildings and the costs of the water pressure problem repairs are explained.

Consumer advice on saving money on water supply repair costs includes a review of the parts and labor costs of a typical well pump and pressure tank replacement case.

The page top sketch, courtesy of Carson Dunlop, shows five factors that affect the water pressure and flow in a building. What the sketch has not included are water pressure, quantity, or flow problems that originate at the well, well pump, or water pressure tank. We discuss all of these here.

Below is our comprehensive guide to diagnosing bad water pressure. Our complete list of water pressure problem diagnosis & repair articles is at the end of this page.

If you have no water pressure at all, see NO WATER PRESSURE and see the other water pressure diagnostic articles listed just below.

If your water pressure is intermittent, starts and stops, or varies in pressure,
see WATER PRESSURE INTERMITTENT LOSS and see the other water pressure diagnostic articles listed just below.

If there is some water pressure but the pressure and/or flow or water quantity are poor throughout the building see these diagnostic articles

Water supply piping problem?
See WATER PIPE CLOG DIAGNOSIS and
then
see WATER PIPE CLOG REPAIR

Keep in mind that if water is running elsewhere in the building (another shower, sink, dishwasher, clothes washer, garden hose, etc) then the water pressure you will observe at your location will usually be reduced.

If you have good cold water pressure but not enough hot water pressure

See HOT WATER PRESSURE IMPROVEMENT.

If you have good water pressure at some fixtures but not at others

You probably have a clog in building piping (such as due to mineral deposits, rust, or even excessive solder in new work), or mineral and debris clogged strainers at faucets and shower heads (check these first).

If your water system works for a while, but then you run out of water

See WELL FLOW TEST PROCEDURE
and
See WELL YIELD IMPROVEMENT

Quick Guide to Diagnosing Poor Municipal Water Supply Pressure

Poor water pressure diagnosis FAQs (C) Daniel FriedmanFor our full article on diagnosing poor municipal water pressure
see MUNICIPAL WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSIS. A summary giving excerpts of some bad city water pressure or flow diagnostic steps is just below.

Take These Extra Steps to Boost City Water Pressure & Flow at a Building: after first diagnosing the problem and ruling out the leaks, crimps, or repairs needed by the steps we have described above, you can adjust the water pressure regulator, install a water pressure booster pump in the building, or install larger diameter water service or in building water supply piping.

Details are
at MUNICIPAL WATER PRESSURE IMPROVEMENTS.

  1. Double check that there is no burst pipe or leaks in the building interior water piping
  2. Check to see if there are leaks or crimps in the water supply pipe between the building and the city water main in the street, and that there and no water running elsewhere before going on to more complicated water pressure diagnosis steps.
  3. Listen for water supply service entry piping or water main leaks: If your water is from a municipal supply and if you can turn off water right at the entry to your building, you can then listen to the piping - you may discover that there is an underground water main supply leak outside!
  4. Check municipal water supply main pressure and flow: Ask your plumber to measure the incoming water pressure and flow before the water pressure regulator,or with the pressure regulator set wide open. Since bad water pressure or flow can be a piping problem rather than a supply quantity problem, also
    see PIPING in BUILDINGS, CLOGS, LEAKS, TYPES
    and
    see PLASTIC PIPE LEAK CAUSES.
  5. Water supply piping buried outdoors must be bedded in clean sand. Where copper water supply pipes have been buried in gravel, contractors find that over time the gravel, perhaps moving by frost or water passage through the soil, actually works against the metal water piping to create multiple holes and leaks in the water main.
  6. Poor incoming city water pressure from a community or municipal water supply? How to boost water pressure in a building by installing a pressure booster pump and pressure tank for buildings whose incoming water pressure is too low or intermittent is discussed in detail
    at WATER PRESSURE BOOSTER PUMP
  7. Poor city water pressure due to building height? How to boost water pressure in a building by installing a pressure booster pump and pressure tank for tall buildings is discussed in detail
    at WATER PRESSURE BOOSTER PUMP
  8. Poor municipal water pressure/flow history helps diagnose the cause. Details are
    at MUNICIPAL WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSIS.
  9. Poor water pressure just at certain plumbing fixtures? poor cold water pressure, hot water pressure, or both hot and cold water pressure or flow that is observed just at some plumbing fixtures in a building while flow and quantity are good at others suggests that the water flow or pressure problems are local to certain runs of supply piping or to the specific fixtures.

    Details are
    at MUNICIPAL WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSIS.
  10. Poor hot water pressure - weak flow: if hot water pressure is noticeably worse than cold water pressure and flow, the problem may be due to sludge in the water heater or mineral-clogged piping or tankless coil clogging.
    See
    HOT WATER PRESSURE IMPROVEMENT

    TANKLESS COILS

    A water softener (WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS) won't fix mineral-clogged piping, but once that problem has been taken care of, it can prevent future clogs.
    See CLOGGED SUPPLY PIPES, HOT WATER.
  11. Shared city water supply line? Cars on Dunlop Associates Home Reference Book points out that in some cities multiple homes may share a single supply line. Details are
    at MUNICIPAL WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSIS.
  12. Variations in building occupancy levels: Where building demand for water flow varies widely, a single pressure reducing valve may not be able to handle the maximum water demand flow rate.

    This condition occurs at buildings where there is a large water supply main to an apartment or office building whose water demand can vary enormously (0.5 gpm to 100 gpm) depending on the building occupants. Watts and other pressure reducing valve producers recommend a nice solution to this problem.

    As we explain
    at WATER PRESSURE REDUCER / REGULATOR, parallel pressure reducing valves are sometimes installed to correct this difficulty.

Quick Guide to Diagnosing Poor Well Water or Pump Water Pressure or Flow

Our full diagnostic article for private well water pressure and flow problem diagnosis is
at WELL WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSIS.

Separately we also provide
a WATER PRESSURE PROBLEM DIAGNOSIS TABLE in table format listing nearly every cause of water pressure loss or well pump problem identification, diagnosis, and repair.

If you don't care about diagnosing the well water pressure and flow problem and think it's time to move on to a simple solution
see WELL WATER PRESSURE IMPROVEMENT

The following articles pertain if you have a private well, pump, and tank system for your building or if your incoming community water supply pressure and flow are just too low to start with:

  1. Water Tank Problems?
    See WATER PRESSURE TANK REPAIRS. Examples of water tank problems include poor water pressure or the well pump rapidly turning on and off (short cycling).
  2. Water pump problems? Examples of water pump problems include poor water pressure or no water pressure at all, or water pump won't start, won't stop, or fails to develop adequate water pressure. See
  3. Poor water pressure or no water pressure after an electrical power loss, lightning strike, or storm? Water pressure may be lost entirely following a power loss or electrical storm or lightning strike. Check first for a blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker.

    A lightning strike can also damage electrical wiring supplying a submersible pump, or it may damage the pump itself.
  4. Water piping or well piping problems? If your water pump keeps losing prime, a shallow well jet pump well line could have a bad foot valve in the well or there may be a bad check valve on well piping at or near the water tank or near the above-ground water pump and so be losing prime
    See WELL PIPING FOOT VALVES
    and
    see CHECK VALVES, WATER SUPPLY

    A leak in the well line piping itself can also lead to loss of prime.
    See WELL PIPING LEAK DIAGNOSIS
  5. Well Problems? Do you run out of water or after running water for some interval water pressure and flow are poor?

    Well problem diagnosis starts
    at WELLS CISTERNS & SPRINGS.

    Other indications of a well that is running dry include reduced water flow rather than complete stoppage of water flow, or the water may be dirty.

    Before assuming that there is no water in the well, check to see if the water pump is working properly, including loss of pump prime WATER PUMP PRIMING PROCEDURE
    and a bad or leaky well piping foot valve
    WELL PIPING FOOT VALVES
  6. Bad water pump or water tank pressure regulator control?
    See WATER PRESSURE REDUCER / REGULATOR (not usually installed on private well and pump systems, often present on municipal water supply systems that use an in-building local water pump and pressure tank to boost pressure).

    Before adjusting a well pump pressure control switch
    (WATER PUMP PRESSURE CONTROL SWITCH),
    changing building piping, or considering installing a water pressure booster pump
    (WATER PRESSURE BOOSTER PUMP), it is essential to understand what the incoming water pressure is and exactly why the building water pressure is not satisfactory.

    Start at the beginning of this article:
    WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR. Water pump pressure regulator switch diagnosis and repair steps include these:
    • How to Adjust Water Pump Pressure: The detailed, step by step procedure for inspecting and adjusting the water pressure control switch is discussed in detail
      at ADJUST PUMP PRESSURE CONTROL.
    • Diagnosing Water Pump Short Cycling on and off: If your water pump is clicking on and off too often or quite rapidly see SHORT CYCLING.
    • Diagnosing Water Pressure Drops without explanation when the pump stops,
      see WATER PRESSURE FALLS SLOWLY, ERRATIC PUMP: bad pressure control switch, building water running or leak, bad pressure gauge, bad check valve, bad foot valve.
    • Diagnosing & Repairing Lost Air in the Water Tank: The problem of lost air in the water pressure tank along with how to correct that condition are discussed beginning at SIGNS OF AIR LOSS.
    • Diagnosing & Repairing a Water Pressure Control or Water Pump Control Switch: We discuss diagnosing and repairing a water pressure control switch that sticks "on" or "off" or simply won't operate,
      at WATER PUMP PRESSURE SWITCH REPAIRS
  7. Bad Hot Water Pressure?
    See HOT WATER IMPROVEMENT especially if the building cold water pressure is acceptable but hot water pressure and flow are poor.

    Accumulated debris in a water heater, and debris from a corroded or disintegrating hot water tank dip tube or hot water tank sacrificial anode can also block the hot water outlet opening, resulting in low hot water pressure in a building.
  8. Bad cold or hot water pressure and flow just at certain plumbing fixtures? See our discussion of Poor water pressure just CERTAIN PLUMBING FIXTURES just above.
  9. Bad water pressure & flow: clogged pipes due to mineral deposits, silt, solder blobs, sediment collecting in elbows or in long horizontal runs, or even a damaged water control valve or faucet.

    First check for differences in water pressure at different fixtures; remove fixture strainers, washing machine strainer, to see if water flow improves.

    See BAD WATER PRESSURE CLOGGED PIPES
    and
    see WATER PIPE CLOG REPAIR for details.
  10. Problems with water treatment equipment can cause loss of water pressure or no water flow: a clogged water filter, water softener, or a malfunction in water disinfection or other water treatment equipment can cause a reduction in water pressure or even a complete stop in water flow in a building. Iron sediment or even dirt and silt can collect in water treatment equipment such as a water softener or water conditioner resin tank, causing poor building water pressure.

    See SOFTENER CLEANING & SANITIZING.

 

 

Continue reading at WATER FILTERS, HOME USE or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.

Or see WELL WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSIS.

Or see MUNICIPAL WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSIS.

Or see WATER PRESSURE PROBLEM DIAGNOSIS TABLE in table format listing nearly every cause of water pressure loss or well pump problem identification, diagnosis, and repair.

Suggested citation for this web page

WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR at InspectApedia.com - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

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