# Weak Showerhead? Dribbling Faucet? How to Increase Your Home’s Water Pressure

Joseph Truini

From Popular Mechanics

If showerheads in your home are weak, water dribbles out of faucets, and the washing machine takes forever to fill, then you might be experiencing the effects of low water pressure.

This relatively common plumbing problem occurs for any number of reasons, but fortunately it typically can be corrected with a minimal investment of time or money. However, before proceeding, it’s important to check your home’s water pressure to confirm that it’s lower than normal.

You love to tinker with things at home. So do we. Let us help you out.

### Water-Pressure Test

Low water pressure is considered any reading that’s less than about 40 pounds of pressure per square inch (PSI). For most homes, the water pressure should be between 40 and 60 PSI, with 50 PSI being ideal. Here’s a quick, accurate way to calculate the water pressure in your home:

Purchase a simple pressure gauge, which will run you about \$10. Tighten the gauge’s female threaded fitting onto an outdoor garden-hose faucet. Check to make sure that all the valves closest to the water meter are fully opened. Then, open the hose faucet all the way and read the water pressure on the gauge’s needle dial. If it reads less than 40 PSI, then your home has low water pressure.

### Check the Flow Rate

Another important factor that could cause a decrease in pressure is known as the water flow rate. The flow rate is simply how much water is delivered through the pipes in a specific amount of time; it’s calculated as gallons per minute (GPM). If the demand for water exceeds the amount that the system can supply, then it may seem as if your home has low water pressure, when it might not.

For example, if your home has a flow rate of 10 GPM, then the system can produce about 10 gallons of water per minute. That’s fine, unless the washing machine is on and using 5 GPM, someone’s showering and using 3 GPM, and the dishwasher is running at 4 GPM, resulting in a demand of 12 gallons of water per minute. In this scenario, the 10-GPM water-supply system wouldn’t be able to keep up with demand, resulting in the appearance of low water pressure. Here’s how to check your home’s water flow rate:

Start by making sure all faucets and water-using appliances in the house are turned off. Then, connect a garden hose to an outdoor faucet and line up three empty five-gallon buckets. Now, turn the water on full blast and start filling the buckets. Stop after 60 seconds and measure how much water you’ve captured in the buckets. If you filled two-and-half buckets, then your home’s water flow rate is about 12 1/2 GPM.

By the way, the average household uses 100 to 120 gallons of water per person per day, so an ideal flow rate would be 6 to 12 GPM. Now, that you have an understanding of water pressure and flow rate, let’s take a look at three ways to increase water pressure.

## Call the Local Water Department

If your home is connected to city water, call your municipal water department and ask them to check the water pressure coming from the street into your house. They’ll run a pressure test—at no charge to you—to confirm that adequate pressure is being delivered. If they find no problem with the main water pipe, then the issue is in your home’s water-supply system.

If you draw water from a deep well, and are experiencing low water pressure, call a well-pump technician to inspect the well pump and the expansion tank, which pressurizes the water once it’s pumped from the well into the house.