Longing for a Better Shower?  3 Considerations in Fixing Low Water Pressure

Nothing invigorates like a nice, strong shower at the start of the day.  And who can deny a fabulous shower delivers heavenly nirvana after a long, hard day of work?  We’re talking about a shower that’s as hot as we like with a good, strong flow.  In the Las Vegas valley, low water pressure can be a sudden or a chronic problem.  And because a good, enjoyable shower plays such an important role in setting the mood for our day, living with that particular problem can really affect our quality of life in a not-so-happy way.

Why do I have low water pressure?

A variety of conditions or problems can cause a weak shower.  So, it’s important to first diagnose and understand your particular situation.

Are you experiencing low pressure throughout your home?  According to the Las Vegas Valley Water District, the water pressure supplied to your dwelling depends on the elevation of your property with respect to the reservoir that services your neighborhood.  And elevations in our valley range widely; from 2000 feet near the Strip to above 3,500 feet in Summerlin the closer you get to the Red Rock Canyon.  Even with strategically located reservoirs, that means water coming into your home can range anywhere from 30 to 80 psi static pressure (more on the implications of that in a moment).

Maybe your problem only effects the pressure of your hot water.  Or perhaps every other plumbing fixture in your home has good hot-and-cold water pressure, and the problem only affects your shower.

You don’t have to live with low water pressure!

The good news is once you know what causes low water pressure in a shower, you’ve got 90 percent of the problem solved.  just about any problem messing up your perfect shower experience can be fixed.  A licensed professional plumber can help you pinpoint the cause or causes, and he can tell you exactly what to do to remedy your particular situation.

How can you fix low water pressure?

The condition depriving you of superb shower bliss dictates which approach we take with the remedy.  And that condition is typically tied to one of three scenarios.  So, we begin our investigation in discovering the root cause by determining which of these three apply:

1. Low water pressure affects all the plumbing in my home

When your entire home experiences low water pressure, here’s a list of the typical culprits that might be causing the problem.

  • Water Softener.  A water softener in need of servicing or replacement is one of the first things to suspect for causing low water pressure throughout your home.  Simply putting the softener in bypass mode and then operating your plumbing fixtures is a quick test to see whether your softener is causing the problem.  Active Plumbing & Air Conditioning can help you with servicing or replacing your home’s water softener and filtration system.  Give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.
  • Partially-closed Valves.  One or more partially-closed water valves in your service lines could be restricting flow.  There’s the main valve at your meter and various in-line shutoff valves, for example at your water heater and water softener.   There might be additional shut off valves installed during repairs or remodeling to shut off and isolate certain portions of your home while keeping the main water running.  Additional valves or “angle stops” control individual sinks and toilets.  There’s generally no reason why any of these valves shouldn’t be operating fully opened during normal conditions.
  • Slab Leak.  Leaking supply lines that lay beneath the foundation of your home are a type of slab leak.  Such leaks are often silent, hidden and can go unnoticed and undetected for extended periods of time.  And the amount of water and energy they waste can add up fast, so if you suspect a slab leak the problem needs to be addressed by an experienced plumber as soon as possible.
  • Pressure Reducing Valve (PRV).  Residential plumbing is generally designed for 80 psi maximum pressure; operating at a higher static pressure can damage your plumbing system.  For that reason, a PRV might have been included in the plumbing design to regulate the incoming water pressure.  These valves are typically set somewhere between 35 and 60 psi.  If this safety valve fails from age, improper adjustment, or is simply faulty, the result could be water pressure that is too low or too high.  If you suspect a problem, you should consult a trained plumber to adjust or replace the valve.

2. Only my hot water pressure is low

When low water pressure only involves your hot water, it clearly points to a problem with your water heater Again, the first thing to check is the shut off valve to the water heater; it should be fully opened.  Also, things like corrosion and sediment inside the tank can result in a constricted flow of hot water and should be addressed by a good plumber.

An older water heater might have a tank that’s exceeded its useful life expectancy, in which case it may be leaking.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to discover a big puddle of water around your water heater.  However, you should probably have an expert plumber come and take a look to determine whether the leak is from the tank or from a faulty valve or pipe before making any conclusions.

3. The only place I have low water pressure is my shower

Bingo!  If your low-pressure problem can be isolated to the shower itself, there are deliberate problem-solving steps to take to get you on the fast track to shower happiness.

  • Clogged shower head. Mineral deposits can accumulate inside your shower head over time, which can restrict the flow of water through it.  You might be able to remedy this problem by unscrewing and disassembling the shower head to clean it out before deciding to replace it with a new one.
  • Worn out or faulty shower plumbing, faucets or diverter valves.  Water supply pipes can become blocked with corrosion and other forms of debris over time.  They can also begin to develop leaks.  Single-control shower volume valves, cartridges and diverter valves can wear out and begin to fail.  All these things can lead to a problem with your water pressure in the shower.  A licensed plumber can give you an expert, comprehensive evaluation and provide recommendations for fixing and upgrades.
  • Poor shower head design.  Although we can be grateful we don’t live in California where heavy-handed regulations are out of control, our federal government has wielded its mighty power over us by imposing restrictions on our showers.  In particular, they dictate how much water volume we get to use during each minute of our shower.  And since 1994 that mandate has been two and a half gallons per minute (2.5 GPM), which is less than half the average flow rate of previous shower head designs.  If you have one of the early 2.5 GPM cobbled designs, you’re more likely to be suffering with a bad shower than if you have something a little more current.  Smart engineers at major plumbing fixture manufacturers like Moen, Delta, and American Standard, got busy designing ingenious ways to provide a really great shower experience in spite of the low flow rate mandate.  Give Active Plumbing & Air Conditioning a call and we can hook you up with a state-of-the-art solution that will have you smiling and singing in your shower like “the good ol’ days”.

Don’t you deserve to experience an exceptional, luxurious shower every day in your home?  We believe everyone does!  Give Active Plumbing & Air Conditioning a call today, and put us to work making your shower utopia a reality.

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