Understanding Water Pressure in Your Home

When it comes to water pressure in the home, there’s a fine line to balance. Nothing beats the feeling of hot water beating down on your shoulders as you have your morning shower but too much pressure can cause all kinds of issues.

Let’s take a deep dive into the highs and lows of water pressure management.

What Is Water Pressure And Why Should I Care?

Put simply, water pressure is how much water is flowing through your pipes at any given time. It effects how quickly it comes out of your shower and faucets too- this is what most of us think of when we think of “water pressure”.

Generally, you want a good strong flow, as anyone who’s taken a shower with low water pressure will tell you, but too fast can cause some issues which can be a bit more serious than an unsatisfactory morning splash.

Where Does Your Water Come From?

Most of us in the United States get our water from the municipal supply. This water typically comes from sources such as reservoirs, rivers, or lakes, and is pumped into a treatment plant for purification. After treatment, the water is stored in pressurized tanks, often located at high points in the area, to aid in distribution. A combination of gravity and pumps then helps to move the water through the water mains towards our homes. The pressure in this system is commonly referred to as ‘water pressure’.

How is Water Pressure Measured?

We measure water pressure in units called PSI (pounds per square inch). Water main pressure varies dependent on area but generally ranges somewhere between 45 and 80psi. Anywhere between these points is normal water pressure for a home. Anything below 40psi is low and anything above 80 is getting too strong for domestic use and risks damaging pipework and fittings.

If you’re curious about the water pressure in your home, you can get an accurate measurement fairly simply: gauges are fairly cheap and will fit on to any domestic hose fitting. An even cheaper and easier, though much less accurate, way to get an idea of flow rates is the bucket test. Simply place a bucket under your faucet and turn it on full. If it takes more than 30 seconds to fill, you have low pressure.

What Affects My Water Pressure?

There are quite a few things which can affect the water pressure in your home. Some of these you can do something about, others are unfortunately out of your hands as a homeowner.

1. Elevation

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, elevation will affect the water pressure you get. The higher up you are in comparison to the water storage tanks in your area, the worse the pressure will be. The gravity is the main source of water pressure (which is why tanked systems tend to have a tank in the attic) and that means the further it falls, the faster it flows.

2. Distance From the Source and Peak Usage Times

Another factor which is unfortunately out of your hands is the distance to the water source. The further away from the reservoir or tank your home is, the lower your pressure will be. The number of homes and businesses on your main will also play into this- simply put, the more places that water is being pushed, the less force there is to push it through each.

This is also a likely cause of fluctuating water pressure throughout the day. If you find that your water pressure is lower during the mornings or evenings and higher at off-peak times, it could be that your neighbors are using more at these times so there’s less to go around.

3. Condition of Plumbing

Something that you can do something about is the condition of the plumbing in your home. Low pressure is often caused by build-up within your pipes. Not only will this lead to a worsening problem over time, depending on the type of pipes and local conditions, it may also lead to health problems. Keeping on top of plumbing maintenance and refreshing your system from time to time can prevent or remedy lots of problems!

Another potential cause of low pressure is a leak somewhere in your, or the municipal, system. If this happens in your property, the damage can be a lot more extreme than a poor shower experience and it needs rectifying immediately.

Water Pressure Issues And How To Solve Them

There’s not much complexity when it comes to the water pressure issues that can plague your home. You may have low water pressure, high water pressure, or fluctuating. Determining the right course of action is something that might take a bit more thought depending on your issue.

1. Low Water Pressure

Low water pressure in the home often results in water that only trickles out of your faucets and shower leading to an unsatisfactory experience. If you open the tap and are underwhelmed by how quickly the water comes out, there are a few things you can do to troubleshoot the issue.


Here are some possible solutions to address the issue of low water pressure:

1. Open the Shut-off Valve

Firstly, check your shut-off valve is fully open. This valve works by creating and removing a physical barrier on your home’s inlet pipe. If it’s half-way open, it will restrict the flow of water into your home.

2. Fix Plumbing Leaks

Another possible problem is a leak in your system somewhere. There are two ways to check this. If you have a water meter, turn everything off and see if the numbers continue to rise. If you don’t, you’ll have to try it the old fashioned way and visually check. Look around connections to appliances and faucets or any joints you can access easily. If there are any drips or signs of wear and tear, it’s time to consider replacing your pipes or fittings.

3. Clear Blockages in the System

A third possibility is a blockage somewhere in your system- this is particularly likely if there’s only low pressure in one or two areas of your home. Many modern mixers have an inbuilt filter and lime scale can build up here, restricting flow. If that doesn’t seem to be the case you may have to “snake” your pipes to clear a hidden problem.

4. Check for Low Pressure from the Supply

Of course, it might not be an issue with your home itself- it could just be that you live in an area with lower water pressure than you’d like or even that there’s a problem with the supply. Talk to your neighbors and see what their experiences are.

2. High Water Pressure

Generally, low pressure issues are an annoyance but not particularly serious. The same can’t be said for high water pressure- too much force flowing through your pipes can do serious damage. Under too much pressure, joints can pop and appliances can fail, leading to expensive repair bills.

If you find pin-hole leaks, leaking water heaters, toilets which run constantly or your water bill is constantly climbing, the chances are good that you’re suffering the downsides of having high water pressure in the home.


Here are some possible solutions to address the issue of high water pressure:

1. Call Your Water Supplier

The first thing to do is call your water supplier- most problems with overly high water pressure in the home come from the source- this is especially true if the issue is affecting your neighbors too. If it is an issue on their end, they should fix it without charge.

2. Restrict Your Shut-off Valve

Next, you can try restricting your shut-off valve. This should be located somewhere close to where water enters your property from the main. Reducing the flow here might be enough to solve your issue, depending on the type of valve that has been installed. It’s important to note that this should only be used as a temporary measure to reduce risk of immediate damage or leaks. Using this as a long term solution can lead to further problems down the road.

3. Install a Pressure Regulating Valve

You can install a pressure regulating valve. This device does exactly what it says it does- regulates the pressure. Often the right place to install a PRV is tricky to access and will require the right tools, so unless you know what you’re doing, it’s best to call in a professional. These valves are relatively inexpensive and a simple enough job for a qualified plumber.

3. Fluctuating Water Pressure

Sometimes the water pressure in your home can go from high to low and back again. Sometimes this is just a matter of supply- if everyone on the main is using water at the same time, pressure drops and goes back to normal when fewer people are using it.

If it fluctuates more rapidly, going from high to low and back again as you’re using it, you have a potential problem.

If you find your faucets pulsating, there are a few things which could be happening. It could be as simple as some debris in a valve restricting the flow and then being pushed out of the way again or even just a loose washer in a tap. If you have a tanked system, it’s possible that your tank is waterlogged- that is the ratio of water to air has been disturbed.

If the problem lasts for a while, it’s best to consult a plumber who can diagnose and fix the root cause.

What Can I Do About My Water Pressure?

We’ve gone over a few things which you can try yourself if you find that the water pressure in your home is too high or low. To recap:

  • Adjust valves on your shut-off valve to increase or decrease flow rate
  • Check for leaks
  • Install a Pressure Reducing Valve
  • Clean your fittings
  • Snake your pipes

Many of these things can be undertaken by a keen DIYer but if you find yourself in any doubt whatsoever, it’s best to call in a professional rather than risk making the problem worse.