You wake up early in the morning, still a little bleary eyed from sleep, and saunter over to the washroom. Hoping for a nice, invigorating shower, you turn the knob on and step in. What you are met with, however, is not an invigorating shower – instead, what comes out is a lazy, slow dribble. Your water pressure is low.
It’s one of the more annoying features of some homes. We often normalize it over time, forget to notice it until we have a shower elsewhere – the gym, a hotel, or a relative’s house – and then realize that we are living with suboptimal water pressure. It’s also one of those things that a lot of people think is simply “the way it is”, an unfixable fact of life. But water pressure can be improved.
Poor water pressure is a common problem in older houses in Toronto, and it even rears its head in newer homes. Pinpointing the exact reason for your low water pressure takes some diagnostic skills, which in turn requires the knowledge of a professional plumber. Water pressure depends on many factors, and if you are dissatisfied with your low water pressure, give Mister Plumber a call today. In the meantime, in this blog we’ll review some of the factors that cause the low pressure.
The Underground Main Water Pipe
Firstly, a common culprit of low water pressure is narrow underground water pipes. In order for the water pressure to stand a chance of making it into your home, your underground main water pipe has to be the correct size. According to the current Ontario plumbing codes, every single-family dwelling requires a minimum 3/4” ID (inside diameter) main water pipe, but most older houses still have their original half-inch pipe.
It is important to note that underground pipes that extend from the road to your house consist of two portions: a city portion and a private portion. The private portion is completely the homeowners’ responsibility. You can absolutely call us and we can help upgrade your water service by installing a higher ID private portion, a job we do quite often.
The city portion of pipe, on the other hand, can only be upgraded or replaced by a city contractor who has a flat rate for everybody. This means, unfortunately, that where the city portion of the pipe is concerned, homeowners cannot shop around. Underground water service for the house is probably the number one factor in whether or not you receive low or high water pressure.
Piping Inside The House
Next, another common offender is the piping inside your house. Another plumbing code states that pipes running from the water meter to the cold water inlet on the heater must be no less then 3/4”. It makes good sense because the hot water tank or boiler doesn’t produce its own pressure; it just uses cold water pressure from the municipal pipe, and then one pipe in the house is eventually split into two: cold and hot. A narrow pipe inside your house, therefore, can also negatively affect water pressure. The only way to mitigate a problem like this is to hire a local plumber in Toronto (such as ourselves!) to come take a look.
The third reason you might be experiencing suboptimal water pressure is the type of shutoff valves you have (valves used to control the flow of water in a home). Gate valves, for example, never open 100%, and therefore restrict the flow of water by 10-15%, causing a decrease in water pressure. Homes of all ages can come with gate valves. If you want your gate valves replaced, Mister Plumber can come and install what is known as a “ball valve”. Ball type valves are full port, and in their opening position they have a size equal to that of the pipe, and therefore do not cut pressure.
The fourth factor we might consider when diagnosing the cause of your low water pressure is the water meter, which in many cases has half-inch inlet and outlet tailpieces (which, as established, is too narrow, and restricts water flow). If you want to upgrade your tailpieces, call us for a free estimate or request an estimate on our website. We respond immediately and are available around the clock, 24/7 for both residential and commercial plumbing services.
If your underground pipe has been upgraded to a 3/4” or 1” pipe, you as a homeowner have the right to ask the city to upgrade your water meter. This job can only be done by the city, however, because it is city property.
The last factor that might be causing your low water pressure is actually a less involved one than the previous four: mineral build up in your cartridges and spout aerators. If build-up happens in your shower valve cartridge or faucet cartridge, you can simply replace it with new one. They aren’t that expensive, and could be the solution to your problem.
If build-up happens on your showerhead, you can use scissors or vinegar to clean the rubber holes, and you will notice a much better and more pleasant flow when taking a shower. For a visual tutorial, this YouTube video does a good job of explaining how to clean the build-up from your showerhead.
These are the most common reasons for lousy water pressure, and one or multiple of these factors could be causing your problems. You don’t have to suffer through bad showers and slow faucets in your home. You don’t have to wake up every morning dreading the shower, or waste an hour trying to do the dishes with the slow stream from your faucet.
Regardless of how old your Toronto home is, there is a solution for you. To get professional check-up or advice, call Mister Plumber and we will be happy to troubleshoot your low pressure problems. We offer free estimates, a number of plumbing services, and amazing customer service – but don’t take our word for it. Check out our reviews online!