How to increase your water pressure
Are you fed up with a tap that trickles water or a bath that takes an hour to fill? Low water pressure can be frustrating, but luckily there are some steps you may be able to take to find out why it’s low and solve the problem.
What is the water pressure in my area?
Sometimes, the pressure you get in your taps at home can be down to the pressure in your area. If this is the case, there may not be much you can do to improve your water pressure.
If your water pressure has suddenly dropped, you can check the United Utilities Current Incidents page, which tells you where there are pressure issues in the UK and the status of the problem. If you think you have a problem with water pressure, you can also check the Ofwat website.
How to check water pressure
There are ways you can test your water pressure to see if it has stayed the same or got worse. The simplest check involves a one litre jug and a timer.
You should make sure that none of your appliances, like a washing machine or dishwasher, are running and that all of the taps in your home are off. If any family members are at home, you should make them aware that you’re running the test so they don’t accidentally turn a tap on.
Turn the cold kitchen tap on all the way so it’s at full power. You should time how long it takes to fill the one litre jug. It helps if you have someone to turn on the timer while you turn on the tap.
It should take around seven seconds for the one litre jug to fill up. If it takes longer than this, then there may be some improvements you can make to increase your home’s water pressure.
If you know there’s a water issue in your area because you checked the United Utilities page, then you could wait a couple of days and try the test again. Or try it once in the morning and again in the afternoon. Sometimes the water pressure can drop between seven and eight o’ clock in the morning because there’s a higher demand for water - lots of people are having a shower or brushing their teeth before going to work or school.
You can also check the water pressure by asking your neighbours if they’ve had any problems or seen a change in the pressure. If they have, then you could get in touch with your water supplier to notify them of the problem.
How to improve water pressure
There are some actions you can take to make sure that your water pressure is the best it can be.
Open the supply valve
The reason for your low water pressure could be that the water mains valve isn’t open enough. This can usually be located near the water meter. You close it to shut off your home’s water supply, however you want it to be fully open the rest of the time. Make sure the valve is open all the way so that the water can flow through easily.
Check for leaks
You should check for leaks around your appliances and pipes. You can do this using your water meter if you have one.
You should stop using water inside the property. Turn all the taps off and any appliances that use water like a washing machine. Check the meter to see if it is spinning. If it is, there is water being used somewhere, so turn off all the water to your home by cutting off the mains supply. If the meter is still spinning, this could indicate a leak on your property.
Even small leaks can mean a lot of pressure from your system is lost. If you do find a leak or think that you may have one, you should call a plumber to fix the pipe for you.
Blocked pipes are another reason for decreased water pressure. Pipes can become blocked for all sorts of reasons. When this happens, water cannot flow through them as easily.
If your water pressure is okay with some taps but not with others, this could be a sign of a localised block. You may also find that the water pressure is fine when you first turn the tap on but it quickly slows to a tickle. Many modern mixer taps have a filter located within the head which can become blocked with limescale. You should check your problem taps to ensure there isn’t any limescale that could be affecting the pressure of your water.
If this is the reason for your low water pressure, your pipes may need to be ‘snaked’ if you can’t find the source of the blockage.
Install a booster pump
If you haven’t found the answer to your problem yet, it could be that the water pressure needs a slight boost to your house.
Water pressure is mostly determined by two things: gravity and distance. For example, if the water has to travel a long way uphill to your home, then your water pressure may not be as good as a house that’s closer to the supply down the hill. Low pressure can also be a problem for people who live on the top floor of a tall building, such as a block of flats.
To address this, you could have a booster pump installed. A pump works by repressurising the water before it enters your home. You must make sure that, if you choose to install a booster, it adheres to Water Regulations and that the pump is approved by the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme. The pump mustn’t over pressurise the water and the pressure shouldn’t exceed 12 litres of water per minute from any cold tap. There must be safeguards in place to prevent the pressure from going over this threshold.
Pumps can be expensive, but in most cases they will solve your water pressure issues. It’s a worthwhile investment if you plan to live in the house for a few years and will therefore reap the benefits.