Living Smart: What causes low water pressure in my house?

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Many homeowners have experienced the irritation of dealing with low water pressure in the house at least once. Low water pressure makes simple daily activities, such as showering or washing your dishes, frustrating and time consuming, but finding the cause can be the most irksome aspect of this common plumbing problem.

So what causes a home’s low water pressure? Here are some of the usual suspects, as well as some possible solutions:

1. Debris and mineral buildup in pipes

Debris — such as sand, dirt, and pollutants — can enter your home’s pipes when a water main fractures. Even without a fractured line, your pipes are susceptible to mineral buildup from the deposits that water leaves behind when traveling through your home. Even a small amount of sediment can create a blockage in your home’s plumbing.

The solution to this piping problem is to examine a section of the pipe to determine whether mineral buildup is the problem. If this is the case, plumbing chemicals that break down and flush the debris can solve the problem more often than not.

2. Corrosion buildup inside piping

Although your steel or galvanized water piping systems are intended to last up to 20 years, the insides of these pipes tend to block the flow of water with natural corrosion over the years. In terms of repairing, there isn’t much that homeowners can do to completely rectify this problem.

However, replacing all of the pipes is a perfectly viable solution. You should expect a long and somewhat expensive process, but the positive aspect is that it may only need to be done a few times in a lifetime.

3. Plumbing leaks

It’s more or less evident that a leak in your home’s plumbing system will reduce the water pressure throughout the home simply because not all of the water is flowing toward its proper place.

To determine whether you have a leak, shut off all of the water taps both inside and outside of your home, and then record the meter. Come back a couple of hours later to see whether the meter has changed. If your water usage has increased at all from your first recording, there’s a good chance you have a leak that needs to be repaired by a plumber.

4. Municipal water supply malfunctions

Sometimes, your problems with water pressure may have nothing to do with your own piping system. It may be caused by a malfunction in your area’s municipal water supply.

Just as with your own piping, these systems are subject to leaks, buildups and other problems that can affect the water supply and water pressure. Fortunately, you can call your local municipal water supply company to determine whether the municipal water systems are the issue and whether the problems will be corrected quickly.

If you’ve determined that your home’s low water pressure is a problem best suited for a professional, check Angie’s List for highly rated plumbers in your neighborhood.

This article was written by reporters at Angie’s List, a trusted provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers.