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November 27, 2018
You turn on the faucet for a hot morning shower, only to find when you move the faucet to “hot” that water comes out in a slow trickle. What could be going wrong? Why is the water pressure so bad...or is water flow the issue here?
Plumbing issues aren’t always easy to diagnose — and it only gets more complicated when terms like “poor water flow” and “poor water pressure” seem to refer to the same thing. We often get questions from Chesapeake area homeowners who are experiencing problems with their plumbing and don’t know whether those problems are related to water flow or water pressure.
We wanted to take a moment to clear the air on these often-confused terms, so you know exactly what to do if you have either of these issues inside your own home.
Water Flow vs. Water Pressure: What’s the Difference?
“Water flow” refers to the amount of water that comes out of a faucet in a specific amount of time. It is measured in gallons per minute (gpm). Water flow is affected primarily by the diameter of your pipes. The larger the pipes, the greater the water flow. It is also affected by water pressure. The higher the pressure, the greater the flow.
“Water pressure” refers to the amount of force that water exerts when coming out of a faucet. It is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI). Think of water pressure as the speed or force of the water coming out of the faucet, rather than the amount of water. Water pressure in plumbing systems varies depending on pipe diameter, friction within pipes, gravitational factors, and whether or not there is a pump.
How to Diagnose Water Flow & Water Pressure Issues
If you’re seeing bad water pressure or bad water flow from one or more of your faucets, asking a few questions can help you determine what the root cause of the issue is.
Try troubleshooting your “slow water” issues by asking these questions:
Does it happen only when you turn the water to “hot”?
If so, there’s likely an issue with your water heater. Make sure the water heater on/off valve and the water supply on/off valve are both in the “on” position. If that doesn’t seem to be the issue, it could be that your water heater needs a new heating element or replacement.
Does it happen only with one particular faucet?
If the issue happens with just one faucet in particular, you could have a clogged faucet or aerator. Check for any buildup on the faucet aerator. If that doesn’t seem to be the problem, have a plumbing expert complete an in-depth inspection of your pipes; there might be a constriction in the plumbing in that area of the house
Does it happen when multiple faucets are running?
If running multiple water appliances or faucets seems to trigger low water flow or low water pressure, you likely have a more generalized plumbing issue on your hands. It could be an incorrect setting on your pressure regulator if you have one, improperly sized pipes, or an issue with your water utility. This is another scenario where it’s best to have a plumber complete an in-depth inspection.
Let Russell’s Fix Your Water Pressure Woes
Tired of putting up with faucets that deliver only a slow trickle? Talk to the plumbing specialists at Russell’s. From pipe inspections and drain cleaning, to faucets and water heaters, we offer a wide range of plumbing services in the Chesapeake, VA area to keep your plumbing system running smoothly.