Water pressure is important – anyone who believes otherwise is either kidding themselves or has impossibly low standards. Have you ever gone to wash a couple of dishes, only to be greeted with a thin, weak stream of water coming out of the faucet? It’s frustrating. Or, worse yet, have you ever turned on the shower in the morning, still half asleep, and had the water dribble out. It’s probably the least satisfying way to start your day.
There’s no single reason for poor water pressure. It can be caused by a number of factors, either acting alone or in conjunction with one another. But the result of poor water pressure is always the same: a daily annoyance that gets in the way of you fully enjoying your home.
Let’s take a stand together against weak water pressure. As one of the top Toronto plumbing companies, our hope here at Mister Plumber is that every Torontonian has access to a satisfying shower. To that end, let’s take a look at a few of the common causes of poor water pressure, and what we can do together to tackle them.
The Common Causes of Poor Water Pressure
As mentioned, water pressure in the house depends on many factors – pipes, valves and even the aerators on your taps. The source of the problem isn’t always apparent and can take a keen professional eye to spot.
Part of being professional drain repair experts is that we here at Mister Plumber are like detectives for your plumbing – we pick up clues, run tests and determine the source of the issue. Here are a few such sources.
The most important factor in your water pressure – and arguably the commonest cause of its weakness – is the size of your pipes. Older houses in Toronto usually have half-inch lead or galvanized pipes.
At the time when these houses were built, such pipe diameter was sufficient for a family’s needs; there was one washroom, laundry sink and kitchen sink. Nowadays, people are adding more washrooms, higher-powered washing machines, sprinkler systems etc. A bigger number of plumbing fixtures requires higher pressure.
That’s why the current plumbing code states that the minimum size of underground water service pipes must be 3/4” for one family dwelling. We recommend even 1” for houses with 5 or more washrooms. Another plumbing code states that the diameter of pipe running from the water meter to the cold supply inlet on the hot water tank must be not less than 3/4”.
Some homeowners upgrade only the underground portion and say they are happy with their pressure, so they avoid any work in the basement, especially if it is finished.
Pressure may also be affected by shut off valves installed in the house. Some valves like a gate valve, for example, cuts up to 20% of pressure because it has a reduced diameter in its body. Other valves like ball type are full port ones and do not restrict the flow. Such valves are reliable too as there is no rubber parts inside that can be affected by the chlorine that Toronto water contains.
Partially Closed Valves
The City of Toronto even suggests before you submit a service request for low water pressure, that you ensure your main water shut off valve is, in fact, completely open. Partially closed water shut off valves can obviously restrict the water flow into your home, thereby negatively impacting pressure throughout the home. This isn’t a tough job and only requires you locating your shut off valves.
However, if opening the valves fully doesn’t amend the problem, it might be time to call in the pros.
Take the example of a garden hose. A garden hose with a hole – or a number of small holes – will eventually siphon off a sizeable amount of its pressure and water, leaving the end to weakly dribble out a thin stream of water. This same principle applies to your pipes.
If you have noticed wet patches or water damage in any part of your home, there’s a distinct chance you have a leaking pipe, which, in addition to causing costly damage, can negatively impact water pressure. Nip this problem in the bud, as soon as you notice anything – water pipe repair that is caught early can save you a lot of money.
Finally, the issue can be as simple and localized as a clogged aerator. If something gets caught in your faucets aerator screen, like dirt or debris, it can throttle the water trying to come out. A major indication that your problem is a clogged aerator and not one of the above problems is that the low pressure is localized in one tap, not affecting other appliances.
Fixing Common Water Pressure Problems
In the picture up above, you can see a pressure upgrade project we did. The old lead pipes in the house were upgraded with new 3/4” copper ones underground and connected to the city curb valve. This greatly improved the house’s water pressure and did away with the potentially harmful lead pipes the homeowners had unwittingly been using. The plumbing in Toronto is often out-dated, so we come across cases like this quite a lot.
The picture below shows a new copper pipe going through a foundation wall, with a new shut off main valve and connection to the water meter. Mister Plumber uses a modern torpedo drilling method to upgrade the private portion of an underground main water supply line with minimum disturbance to the landscaping. That means you can upgrade your water pressure without worrying about overhauling your property.
In Toronto, we replace over 3,000 old lead water pipes. Our reasonable prices and superior quality of work makes us as top customers’ choice. To chat with an experienced professional about your water pressure, give us a call today. Our mission is to make sure every Torontonian loves their morning shower – help us make the mission a success!