Homeowners sometimes experience water pressure problems in their homes or with irrigation systems. There can be many possible causes of low water pressure/flow in your home, and it is a process of elimination before deciding on and investing in a pressure pump system.
If there was a sudden change in your water pressure, there are some checks you can do to determine what the cause of your problem is. Below are a few possible causes:
- Your water supplier is having trouble
If you are on a municipal supply and the water pressure is suddenly low, contact your neighbours to find out if they have a similar problem. There may be a burst pipe in the distribution system and water was cut off to do repairs. This should hopefully be resolved quickly and won’t require any input from your side.
- The main water shutoff valve is partially closed
If you are the only one in your street experiencing low water pressure, check that the main shutoff valve leading to your property is fully open. A partially opened valve will cause lower flow and pressure in your home.
- The pressure regulator may be faulty
Not all plumbing systems have pressure regulators, but if there is one have it checked out by a professional to make sure that it is working properly and is not causing your pressure headache.
- Your pipes may be clogged
Water supply pipes can become clogged over years. These obstructions can restrict the waterflow and pressure in the system. This will happen over years of use and won’t become apparent all of a sudden. If you suspect that this may be the case, you need to contact a professional to do an inspection. This will involve turning the water supply off and opening some of the fittings to inspect the inside of the pipes. In the worst-case scenario, you may need to replace all the water pipes in your home, but this will give you the opportunity to upgrade to a larger diameter pipe, which should improve the flow throughout the system.
- Pipes may be corroded
If your house is very old the water pipes may be corroded on the inside. Galvanised steel pipes have a lifespan of around 20 years. Copper pipes should last 50 years or more. Modern plastic pipes with brass fittings also have a long life expectancy when it is protected against the elements. Corrosion on the inside of pipes or fittings can restrict the flow of water and decrease the pressure. Have a professional check it out.
- You may have a leak
Not all water leaks are obvious. It may be underground or inside a wall. The loss of water through a leak can have an impact on your water pressure and most leaks will only worsen over time, so call a professional if you suspect that there may be a leaking pipe somewhere.
- You may have faulty or clogged fixtures
If you have low water pressure in all your plumbing fixtures, the issue is almost definitely with your water supply or your pipes. However, if it’s one or a few fixtures that seem to have a low flow, you may want to check out the fixtures.
Remove any aerators on your low-pressure taps and see if they need cleaning. Once they’re completely clear of any buildup, put them back on and see if this makes a difference in your water pressure.
During the severe drought that affected Cape Town and other cities and towns in recent years, water supply was restricted in the distribution system to reduce the consumption. This is usually a temporary measure, but there are steps you can take to ensure that your household’s water supply is supplemented with rainwater, a borehole or just an emergency supply, boosted by a pressure pump.
After you have eliminated all these possible causes and the water pressure is still not to your liking, the next steps are to measure the flow. Using a measuring jug or bucket that you know the volume of and stopwatch, calculate how much water is delivered by your taps. Time how long it takes to fill your bucket with a fully open tap and calculate the litres per minute. You can do this measurement in the bathtub, kitchen, garden tap etc. and compare the figures you get.
A bathtub should get around 15 litres per minute, a dishwasher needs around 10 litres per minute and a shower around 12 litres per minute. If you want to irrigate your garden, you will have to measure the flow of every sprinkler and multiply it with the number of sprinklers you want to run at once to determine if you have enough pressure.
A household pressure pump can be used in a variety of scenarios where higher pressure is needed.
Examples of water pressure problems a water pressure booster pump can solve:
- bringing water from a rainwater harvesting tank
- pumping water from an alternative source like a river or pond
- pushing water from ground level up multiple levels
- feeding water to an appliance with high water needs
- increasing the overall pressure in the water system
- increasing pressure for garden and veggie patch irrigation.
Check out the interview with Pascali’s technical advisor on this very subject!