Water Pressure Problems

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Water Pressure is terrible in new rental

Feb 2013

Just rented a new home and the water pressure is horrible! Is there an affordable way to increase water pressure in an older home? I've looked online and the suggestions seem daunting for someone who does not possess this skill set. Just a trickle

I think it is your landlords responsibility to correct plumbing issues,no? The house we moved in to had old iron pipes and had terrible water pressure, especially in the hot water pipes. I called out the plumber we had used before, Big Blue Plumbing and they suggested we replace all the pipes with copper. Unfortunately the price tag that came with that was more that we could handle. The plumber suggested that a short term fix (a band aid solution he called it)might relieve the symptoms for a while. Jose replaced some valves and hoses and flushed the system and that had great results in one of the bathrooms and the kitchen sink. The flow in the guest bath was still really poor. They then suggested we could replace just the pipes to the second bath without doing the whole repipe. This took care of the problem and we now have good water pressure everywhere but we don't know for how long. I guess we will replace all the pipes sooner or later. Anyway, Big Blue Plumbing in Berkeley gave great service and really worked with us to provide creative solutions. I hope this helps, good luck! Richardson

You don't own the house, so you don't have to deal. Your landlord does! Talk to them, and tell them they need to fix it. There are privileges of not being an owner. renter most of my life

if the whole house is bad... these steps will get you toward a fix. but, keep in mind that old galvanized lines corrode over time and can constrict flow. also, obstructions can occur in a water main

1. ask your landlord, previous problem? solving a problem starts with investigation and historical perspective
2. check that valve at water meter is 100% open. call EBMUD or ask a friend/ handy person
3. check that your water pressure is good at first outlet at house, ie, check at outdoor faucet where main goes into house. There are gauges for this as well
4. determine if you have a regulator on house. these go bad over time.
5. call a reputable plumber and offer to pay him to look at issue Big O

First, check to be sure that the main valve to your house from the EBMUD main is all the way open. If it is, call EBMUD. Sometimes they turn off the water at the main and don't turn it back open all the way, leading to reduced pressure at the house. Have you been having large water usage and high bills? If so, check for leaks in the house plumbing. But it sounds like a water service delivery issue. Amelia

Low hot water pressure but not cold

Dec 2008

We have low hot water pressure on every spigot in the house. The cold water is fine, and actually really incredible pressure, but the hot water is running at about a quarter the amount of the cold. Does anyone have any ideas or recommendations on what might be the problem or solution? Our house is quite old 1925ish. I feel like it is somewhere at the source (maybe the main pipe coming into our house?)? Thank you. Kathie

You have good cold water pressure, but low hot water pressure? Sounds like three possibilities 1) Your hot water pipes have internal deposits & corrosion which are plugging up the flow. (Think atherosclerosis). Hot water pipes are more likely to show this because crystals & corrosion form when the hot water cools in the pipe. Steel pipes (installed before the 1950's) are more likely to show this than copper or plastic.

2) Your hot water heater (and associated valves) is on its last legs. Usually this shows up first as reduced amount of hot water available, then you hear popping noises in the tank as it heats (caused by deposits building up inside of the tank), and finally you notice a leak.

3) The hot water piping has been run in a longer path than the cold water pipes. This is likely because the hot water heater was added years after the house was built (in Berkeley, hot water heaters weren't common until after the 1920's). So the cold water pipes may go directly to your bathroom, but the hot water pipes take a circuitous path to the heater and then to the bathroom.

In case 1 or 3, you should contact a good plumber to tear out the old piples and replace them with copper (or perhaps PEX plastic pipes). This is non-trivial work; expect to pay several thousand dollars. And, like hiring a urologist, you're trusting a technician to work on things that you can't see, but certainly will feel in the years to come. Look for an intelligent, diligent plumber.

Where to find a good plumber? Go visit a plumbing supply store (for example, Moran Supply on 40th St. or Rubinstein on San Pablo). Ask the counterman for his recommendations of plumbers (he knows the idiots and the competent guys - they deal with 'em daily) C.S.

On your water pipe question, I understand that rust builds up on the inside of galvanized pipes much quicker on hot water pipes than cold water pipes, so it could just be that rust buildup has reduced the diameter of your hot water pipes. Don't know if there is any solution other than to replace the pipes. On your foundation work question, try Paul Carty of Carty Construction out of Kensington. We've used them on drainage and seismic work. dr

Need help with water pressure problem in our house

Oct 2007

We are unsatisfied with the water pressure in our home (particularly in the shower) and have had a difficult time finding someone truly knowledgeable about the subject, who can tell us what to do to increase the pressure. Of course, we would like to avoid having to experiment with different possible measures at great expense only to find no improvement. Can anyone make a recommendation? Thanks. MC

Perhaps your problem is not water pressure, but flow rate. If you live in an older home most likely your pipes are either too small a diameter, or are galvanized and are clogging. You can purchase from a hardware store a pressure gauge that you can put on a hose bib (try to find one at the end of the line)and check your water pressure. Pressure will be somewhere around 50-70 psi. EBMUD should know. BArring any full clog in a pipe the pressure will come up to street pressure if all flow is off. Open a faucet and see how much the pressure drops. If little drop perhaps it is just a clogged shower head or faucet. Good luck Tim

We recently fixed this problem in our home. We were very fortunate in that it simply required the adjustment of some regulator valve under the house. I think any good plumber will know what you are talking about if you ask. It is a thing that regulates the flow of water from the main into the house. The landlord lived here for 7 years and always took her showers at her gym it was so bad. I had planned on doing the same until my husband tweaked this valve. Water flows twice as fast as it did when we moved in. If you cannot find a plumber who understands what you are talking about, feel free to email me. the_missus

Low water pressure fix?


The water pressure in our house has always been problematic and I was wondering what folks think the problem might be as well as the solution (including what type of repair person/company would be able to fix it). It seems like the worst pressure is in our shower. It seems relatively OK in our daughter's bath/shower and elsewhere. It also takes a really long time for the water to get hot in our bathroom. We got a new water heater just about 2 years ago or so in case that matters. Thanks for your advice. Lori

We live in an old house (1906) on the second story and our water pressure is also pretty bad; the hot water comes from the basement. I can't give you any true advice because I've always assumed that our problem is ancient pipes and replacing them has never been very near the top of our list. However, we have come up with a wonderful, cheap, quick fix for our shower. http://www.cottonswow.com/greatforhanh1.html If you search the site for 'greater force' you'll see the different options. I would think that you could find this product locally but this is the company I got ours from. We love this shower head. I could go on and on---how it has transformed our lives, etc. but then I'd have to submit anonymously. :-) Sally

You didn't mention if you had a 1 or 2 story home (and if the water heater is in the basement, this compounds the problem even more). One solution for a 2-story home is an on-demand water heater in the bathroom or near it. This is also a very energy- efficient solution that also prevents those cold bursts when someone turns on the water in the kitchen. -wife of a contractor

I hope this advice will be helpful: If the water in your bath takes a while to heat up, it's usually because the water must travel a great distance from the heater to the bath. Check and see if other sinks or baths closer to the water heater don't heat up faster than your bath. As for water pressure, pressure is reduced the farther it must travel from the source. If the problem is just in your bath, you may consider increasing the size of the water lines leading to your bath; however, this is costly. If the problem is with your entire house, a pressure reading can be taken from the spigot using a water pressure gauge. Depending on your findings, you can boost that pressure however necessary using a device that mounts to your main water supply line. Good Luck. Sincerely, Eric