Low water pressure is a common frustration in the UK. A light drizzle from your shower head is not the kind of morning that most dream of. Waiting endlessly for the the kettle to fill might be the end of the rest of us.
The good news is that it is possible to do something about your low water pressure. In this article, we'll talk about what is considered "low pressure", what causes it and what you can do to improve it in your home.
The difference between Pressure and Flow
Although connected, Water Pressure and Water Flow are different. Water Pressure is measured in "Bar" and is a measurement of how much force is exerted on the water in your pipes. Water Flow is measured in L/min and is simply how much water is coming out of your taps.
In other words, the water pressure is the force that pushes water through pipes and it will determine the flow of water from your tap. So typically, when we talk about increasing water pressure in your home, we're actually talking about how to increase the flow rate.
What is a good flow rate?
If your flow rate is less than 10 L/min, you likely have an issue with low water pressure. If you sit between 10 and 15 L/min, this is considered acceptable. A flow above 15 L/min is considered good.
How do I test my flow rate?
- Locate the outlet or outlets that you think have low pressure
- Get a jug which can handle at least 2 litres of water
- Get a stopwatch
- Place your jug under the tap or shower
- Start your stopwatch at the same time as turning on your water
- Time 6 seconds and turn off your water
- Measure how much water is in your jug (e.g. 0.5 litres)
- Multiply this number by 10 to get your L/min (e.g. 5 L/min)
What causes low water pressure?
There are lots of things that can cause low pressure in your home. A few are explained below:
In traditional homes in the UK, gravity systems are usually the key culprit for low pressure. This is because they rely on gravity power from a cold water storage tank in your home to push the water through your pipes. However, typically there isn't much gravity on hand and therefore not much pressure.
Poor mains water pressure
If you have a mains fed system, then your local water authority could be the culprit. If you're on a hill, or your water supplier has issues with their supply pipes, the consequences can be low pressure in your home.
Size of your home & design of the water system
The longer the pipework, and the more bends and other fittings in your water system will increase chances and frequency of pressure drops in your system. By virtue, large houses are more likely fall foul of low water pressure because of complexity of their system.
Leaks and pipe corrosion
Leaks in your system essentially create new outlets, which divert water away from the outlets you want to use, reducing their flow rate. Corrosion in your pipework will restricts the flow of water in your pipework and create even more pressure drops.
How can I increase my water pressure?
Check with your neighbours
If your neighbours' water pressure is also low, it could be a problem with your water supply. In which case you will need to notify your water supplier to see if they can fix any wider problems in the public system.
Make sure your stop cock is fully open
Your stop cock is used to turn off the water coming into your home. It may sound silly, but this may not be fully open. You can usually find it under your sink, or near the water meter. Find it and check if it is fully open. A half-open one will dramatically reduce the water pressure in your home.
Check for leaks
Leaks will be a big problem for water pressure, but also problems inside your property. You can check for medium to large leaks pretty easily. Turn off all taps, showers and other outlets and take a water meter reading. Then, come back in two hours and check the reading again. Any increase will indicate a leak in your system.
Move your water tanks
If you have a gravity system, one dramatic solution is to move your water tanks. This is a natural way to increase your system's pressure. The higher your water storage is, the more gravity "power", or potential energy there is on hand to push water around your system. However, this can be quite costly, require a lot of work and often isn't preferred.
Install a Shower Pump
Often the simplest solution can be to install a shower pump. Pumps can be used to boost your entire home, or if there is only one or two outlets that are under performing, they can be installed nearer these outlets instead. Check out our shower pumps here to see what we have to offer.