The average person spends at least eight minutes per day in the shower, according to the CDC. Over a year, that adds up to more than two days’ worth of shower time. You can’t overstate the value you get out of higher shower water pressure, given how much time you spend in there and how much better it usually feels.
If you’re on well water or a septic system, however, even the right head won’t always solve your problem. If you’ve got a brand new shower head and still experience weak pressure, the problem must come from somewhere else.
Keep reading and we’ll tell you how to measure water pressure, what numbers should concern you, and how to raise it if it’s low.
Whole-House Water Pressure
While you’ll notice the effects of water pressure most immediately in the shower, your house’s water pressure affects much more than showering. Other uses of water, such as the dishwasher, washing machine, and faucets also benefit from good water pressure.
The biggest value, however, regards the pipes themselves. Excessively high water pressure can damage your pipes as they deal with the strain. Low water pressure in the winter can indicate frozen pipes, which can likewise burst and cause massive damage to your home.
Knowing about the water pressure in your home, then, can prove a sound investment in its value. That doesn’t mean we should understate the value of a nice, comfortable shower, of course. Some people just don’t feel clean unless the shower puts out a comfortably high-pressure stream.
Where Am I at Right Now?
The easiest way to measure your pressure involves using a pressure gauge. A pressure gauge attaches to the end of a spigot and tells you about the water pressure that spigot puts out. It will give a measurement in psi, or pounds per square inch.
Locate your main water valve and main water supply. It will usually sit near the hot water heater. It should have a spigot as well as a meter that tells you how much water it’s using.
Attach the pressure gauge to the nearest spigot first, and turn it on. It will give you a pressure value. If your water pressure comes in between 40 and 70 psi, you have a healthy water system.
Repeat this process at other spigots in your house. If you can include the washing machine hookup, that will give you a more complete picture. If the numbers differ by more than a few psi, that indicates a problem with your water system.
What to Do if the Whole System Has Low Pressure
Well systems can develop pressure problems for many reasons, and not all present major problems. The most common, and most benign, happens after adding new water fixtures. If you’ve recently installed a new bathroom or a kitchen addition with a second sink, you can expect some degree of drop in water pressure.
If you don’t have enough water, that can also cause low water pressure. Droughts and periods of heavy water usage can run you a little low, leading to limp water pressure.
Finally, check if you’re running multiple faucets at once. Some systems have trouble splitting their output between multiple areas at once, leading to lower pressure at each individual point.
If the whole system has low pressure, consider installing a constant pressure system. Constant pressure systems adjust the flow of water according to demand and provide a low-cost way to fix many pressure issues.
Simply turning up the water pressure can also solve this problem. If it’s lower than 40, definitely increase it, and don’t increase it higher than 60-70. Water pressures higher than that can damage your system and violate code.
Always remember to shut off the power at the fuse box or circuit breaker before adjusting your water pressure.
What to Do if Some Areas Have Low Water Pressure
If the system has low pressure only at some faucets or spigots, the issue lies between the main water supply and that spigot. Usually, these problems stem from something in the faucet or spigot itself, such as a blocked aerator or a damaged shower head. They can occasionally come from a leaky pipe, too, though.
Cleaning or replacing the faucet aerator or showerhead can usually solve this problem. If it doesn’t solve the problem, that would make it more likely that the pipes have started leaking or developed a block.
Choosing a Higher-Pressure Showerhead
If your system is fine but the shower doesn’t put out the kind of pressure you want, look at getting a new head. Whether you prefer a wall-mounted head, a detachable one, or a three-way head that lets you use both styles, you can find a high-pressure shower head that suits you.
Rain showerheads, which pour water straight down from above rather than spraying, have also become popular. If you crave high pressure, though, you want to try something else. Most rain heads don’t add any force to the spray.
Don’t Skimp on Your Water System
Even if you only notice it for a few minutes each day, the time you spend in the shower adds up. What’s more, lost water pressure in the shower can be an indicator of something more serious going on in your water system. Whether you want to prioritize the integrity of your home or your personal comfort, the answer ends up the same: make sure your shower has comfortable water pressure.
Suspect an issue in your well water system? Want to install a constant pressure system, but are not confident in your ability to do it? Contact us for all your well and septic system needs.