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Troubleshooting building water pressure problems:
How to fix bad water pressure or loss of water pressure in buildings: this article describes how and why to distinguish among intermittent water pressure loss, total water pressure loss, and poor water pressure or flow in a building.
We give diagnostic and repair procedures for both municipal water supply problems and well water supply problems. If you don't see information you want, ask us for it using the comments box at the end of this article.
How do we diagnose poor water pressure or loss of water pressure in a building, and what are the common causes and repairs for this problem?
The process of lost water pressure diagnosis in buildings and the costs of the water pressure problem repairs are explained.
Consumer advice on saving money on water supply repair costs includes a review of the parts and labor costs of a typical well pump and pressure tank replacement case.
The page top sketch, courtesy of Carson Dunlop, shows five factors that affect the water pressure and flow in a building. What the sketch has not included are water pressure, quantity, or flow problems that originate at the well, well pump, or water pressure tank. We discuss all of these here.
Below is our comprehensive guide to diagnosing bad water pressure. Our complete list of water pressure problem diagnosis & repair articles is at the end of this page.
If you have no water pressure at all, see NO WATER PRESSURE and see the other water pressure diagnostic articles listed just below.
Keep in mind that if water is running elsewhere in the building (another shower, sink, dishwasher, clothes washer, garden hose, etc) then the water pressure you will observe at your location will usually be reduced.
If you have good cold water pressure but not enough hot water pressure
If you have good water pressure at some fixtures but not at others
You probably have a clog in building piping (such as due to mineral deposits, rust, or even excessive solder in new work), or mineral and debris clogged strainers at faucets and shower heads (check these first).
If your water system works for a while, but then you run out of water
Quick Guide to Diagnosing Poor Municipal Water Supply Pressure
For our full article on diagnosing poor municipal water pressure
see MUNICIPAL WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSIS. A summary giving excerpts of some bad city water pressure or flow diagnostic steps is just below.
Take These Extra Steps to Boost City Water Pressure & Flow at a Building: after first diagnosing the problem and ruling out the leaks, crimps, or repairs needed by the steps we have described above, you can adjust the water pressure regulator, install a water pressure booster pump in the building, or install larger diameter water service or in building water supply piping.
Double check that there is no burst pipe or leaks in the building interior water piping
Check to see if there are leaks or crimps in the water supply pipe between the building and the city water main in the street, and that there and no water running elsewhere before going on to more complicated water pressure diagnosis steps.
Listen for water supply service entry piping or water main leaks: If your water is from a municipal supply and if you can turn off water right at the entry to your building, you can then listen to the piping - you may discover that there is an underground water main supply leak outside!
Check municipal water supply main pressure and flow: Ask your plumber to measure the incoming water pressure and flow before the water pressure regulator,or with the pressure regulator set wide open. Since bad water pressure or flow can be a piping problem rather than a supply quantity problem, also
Water supply piping buried outdoors must be bedded in clean sand. Where copper water supply pipes have been buried in gravel, contractors find that over time the gravel, perhaps moving by frost or water passage through the soil, actually works against the metal water piping to create multiple holes and leaks in the water main.
Poor incoming city water pressure from a community or municipal water supply? How to boost water pressure in a building by installing a pressure booster pump and pressure tank for buildings whose incoming water pressure is too low or intermittent is discussed in detail
Poor water pressure just at certain plumbing fixtures? poor cold water pressure, hot water pressure, or both hot and cold water pressure or flow that is observed just at some plumbing fixtures in a building while flow and quantity are good at others suggests that the water flow or pressure problems are local to certain runs of supply piping or to the specific fixtures.
Poor hot water pressure - weak flow: if hot water pressure is noticeably worse than cold water pressure and flow, the problem may be due to sludge in the water heater or mineral-clogged piping or tankless coil clogging.
Variations in building occupancy levels: Where building demand for water flow varies widely, a single pressure reducing valve may not be able to handle the maximum water demand flow rate.
This condition occurs at buildings where there is a large water supply main to an apartment or office building whose water demand can vary enormously (0.5 gpm to 100 gpm) depending on the building occupants. Watts and other pressure reducing valve producers recommend a nice solution to this problem.
Poor water pressure or no water pressure after an electrical power loss, lightning strike, or storm? Water pressure may be lost entirely following a power loss or electrical storm or lightning strike. Check first for a blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker.
A lightning strike can also damage electrical wiring supplying a submersible pump, or it may damage the pump itself.
Water piping or well piping problems? If your water pump keeps losing prime, a shallow well jet pump well line could have a bad foot valve in the well or there may be a bad check valve on well piping at or near the water tank or near the above-ground water pump and so be losing prime
Bad water pump or water tank pressure regulator control?
See WATER PRESSURE REDUCER / REGULATOR (not usually installed on private well and pump systems, often present on municipal water supply systems that use an in-building local water pump and pressure tank to boost pressure).
Diagnosing & Repairing Lost Air in the Water Tank: The problem of lost air in the water pressure tank along with how to correct that condition are discussed
beginning at SIGNS OF AIR LOSS.
Diagnosing & Repairing a Water Pressure Control or Water Pump Control Switch: We discuss diagnosing and repairing a water pressure control switch that sticks "on" or "off" or simply won't operate,
at WATER PUMP PRESSURE SWITCH REPAIRS
Bad Hot Water Pressure?
See HOT WATER IMPROVEMENT especially if the building cold water pressure is acceptable but hot water pressure and flow are poor.
Accumulated debris in a water heater, and debris from a corroded or disintegrating hot water tank dip tube or hot water tank sacrificial anode can also block the hot water outlet opening, resulting in low hot water pressure in a building.
Problems with water treatment equipment can cause loss of water pressure or no water flow: a clogged water filter, water softener, or a malfunction in water disinfection or other water treatment equipment can cause a reduction in water pressure or even a complete stop in water flow in a building. Iron sediment or even dirt and silt can collect in water treatment equipment such as a water softener or water conditioner resin tank, causing poor building water pressure.
Questions & Answers on diagnosing and fixing poor water pressure or on running out of water completely - what to do if the well runs dry.
Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.
Mark Cramer Inspection Services Mark Cramer, Tampa Florida, Mr. Cramer is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors and is a Florida home inspector and home inspection educator. Mr. Cramer serves on the ASHI Home Inspection Standards. Contact Mark Cramer at: 727-595-4211 mark@BestTampaInspector.com
John Cranor is an ASHI member and a home inspector (The House Whisperer) is located in Glen Allen, VA 23060. He is also a contributor to InspectApedia.com in several technical areas such as plumbing and appliances (dryer vents). Contact Mr. Cranor at 804-747-7747 or by Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to Jeneral Sewer Service - George - 845-297-2285, a New York Hudson Valley drain and sewer cleaning and de-clogging expert for technical details and consulting on drain clog diagnosis and repair, including proper use of the Kinetic Water Ram for drain clearing - 3/14/2009
Thanks to our reader, Carole Cimitile, 2/17/2009, for reminding us that small problems like faucet o-rings, clogged faucet strainers and similar local plumbing fixture defects can have a big impact on hot water flow, cold water flow, or both hot and cold water flow and pressure problems.
Thanks to reader EK Woodard, Boise State University, Boise ID, for assistance in diagnosing poor water pressure following an electrical power loss.
Betta-Flo Jet Pump Installation Manual, National Pump Co., LLC., includes helpful well pump troubleshooting tips as well as basic jet pump installation details. Web search 07/24/2010, original source: http://www.nationalpumpcompany.com/Documents/OIM/Betta%20Flo%20IOM%20Jet%20Pump.pdf
WATER PUMP REPAIR GUIDE an specific case offers an example of diagnosis of loss of water pressure, loss of water, and analyzes the actual repair cost
Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. Tel: (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 Email: email@example.com. The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material.
The Illustrated Home illustrates construction details and building components, a reference for owners & inspectors. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Illustrated Home purchased as a single order Enter INSPECTAILL in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
TECHNICAL REFERENCE GUIDE to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment, useful for determining the age of heating boilers, furnaces, water heaters is provided by Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto - Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Technical Reference Guide purchased as a single order. Just enter INSPECTATRG in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
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