Do you have low water pressure in your home? If so, you’re in the right place. Our complete guide covers troubleshooting items, things to consider, and when to call a plumber.
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Have Low Water Pressure?
If you have low hot water pressure, but your cold water pressure is fine, there may be a simple fix. Even if you need to call a professional, the problems that cause low hot water pressure are relatively cheap to fix.
Sediment, rust, and buildup in your plumbing are the most common reasons for low hot water pressure. Finding where the sediment or rust is creating a clog will allow you to clear it out yourself or point a plumber directly to it.
The size and condition of your pipes and plumbing could also be the culprit. Pipes that are too small or leaky will noticeably reduce your hot water pressure.
Figuring out what’s causing your low hot water pressure isn’t too difficult. First, determine whether the hot water pressure is low in only one faucet or appliance or throughout the entire house.
If the problem is limited to one faucet or appliance (like your washing machine), you’ll find troubleshooting steps below. Many of these issues are easy to fix yourself.
If the problem is affecting your entire house, it will be a little more complicated, and likely require a plumber’s expertise. Usually, the problem lies with your water heater or the pipes connected to it.
We’ll include steps to troubleshoot these issues as well. If you think you’ll need a plumber, use our form to get a free quote from a licensed plumber near you.
Low Water Pressure in Kitchen Faucet
If the low hot water pressure is limited to one faucet, one of these issues could be the cause. Use these tips for low water pressure in kitchen sinks, bathroom sinks, bathtubs, and showers.
You’ll be checking your faucet aerators, faucets, supply lines, and shower head to locate the problem.
1. Clogged Aerator
Aerators are small parts you’ll find screwed onto the end of all modern faucets. They introduce oxygen into the stream of water that comes out of your faucets.
This is done by forcing the water to pass through a fine screen (and sometimes, a flow restrictor). Aerator screens will catch mineral sediment over time if hard water is passing through them.
They can also harbor mold due to the dark, moist conditions inside. Either problem can produce enough buildup to weaken the stream of water from the faucet. That will result in lower water pressure.
How to Unclog an Aerator
You can check and fix a clogged aerator yourself easily. Find out if your aerator is the problem and give it a good cleaning by following these steps:
- Use a pair of pliers wrapped in a paper towel or cloth to protect the aerator’s finish
- Remove the aerator by turning it counter-clockwise
- Turn the hot water on while the aerator is off
- If hot water pressure is normal without the aerator, a clogged aerator was the problem
- Clean the aerator by tapping it on the counter to remove the internal parts (keep the parts in order)
- Thoroughly clean the pieces and rinse the screen before putting them back in the correct order
- Screw the aerator back onto your faucet by turning it clockwise
If your hot water pressure wasn’t fixed by removing and cleaning the aerator, it’s time to look at the faucet itself.
2. Clogged Faucet
The faucet could be clogged internally, resulting in low hot water pressure. Keep in mind that removing and reassembling a faucet is much more challenging than removing an aerator.
It’s also easy to accidentally end up soaking your kitchen, bathroom, or yourself in the process by failing to cut the water off first! A plumber can easily do this for you.
Here are instructions for checking and unclogging both a double-handle faucet (hot and cold knobs) and a single handle faucet.
How to Unclog a Double Handle Faucet
- Turn off the hot water using the valve under the affected sink
- Pry the round index button (it might say Hot, H, or be blank) off the hot water faucet knob
- Unscrew the screw that holds the handle and pull upward to take it off
- Remove the stem retainer nut and pull the stem straight up to pop it out
- Carefully remove the washer and spring left behind where you pulled the stem out
- Hold a cup over the opening and turn the hot water supply on and off a few times to try to blow out any debris or clogs
- Clean out the stem, replace the washer and spring, and reassemble the faucet
- Turn the hot water on to check the pressure
How to Unclog a Single Handle Faucet
- Turn off the hot and cold water supply under the sink
- Remove the faucet handle
- Loosen and remove the retaining collar it exposes
- Pull out the ball cartridge
- Remove the two washers and springs from the faucet
- Hold a cup over the opening and turn the hot water supply on and off a few times to flush any debris out
- Turn the hot water supply off and reassemble the faucet
- Turn on the hot and cold water to check the pressure
If flushing the faucet out didn’t fix your problem, it could be the water supply line itself.
3. Clogged or Leaky Water Supply Line
The hot water supply line could be clogged or leaking, reducing the amount of water pressure you’ll get at that sink. Check under the sink to inspect the hot water supply line.
Turn the hot water supply valve off and disconnect the supply line from it and the faucet. Do you notice any water or sink leakage that would indicate the line has a hole in it?
Clean it out thoroughly or replace it if it’s badly kinked or clogged. If it’s still leaking or you have low water pressure, it’s time to call a pro.
Low Water Pressure in Bathroom
If you notice low water pressure in your bathroom, the problem becomes a tad easier to fix. After all, most of the time it’s because of a clogged shower head or tub faucet.
1. Clogged Shower Head
If you’re noticing low hot water pressure in your shower or bathtub only, you’ll know where to start troubleshooting. A clogged shower head is a very common issue that can restrain water flow into a weak stream.
If the shower head is clogged, you can clean it out easily.
- Measure out 1/3 cup baking soda and 1 cup vinegar
- Mix them together in a plastic bag large enough to fit over the shower head (it will bubble)
- Pull the bag onto the shower head, making sure it is fully submerged in the mixture
- Use a rubber band to attach the bag and let it sit for several hours or overnight
- Use a pin or a bent paperclip to poke through the nozzles and dislodge any stubborn deposits
- Use a toothbrush or scrub brush on the shower head, then turn it on and let it run for a few minutes
If a clogged shower head was the cause of low hot water pressure, it should be fixed now. If you don’t notice low pressure from the shower head but do from the bathtub faucet, keep reading.
2. Clogged Bathtub Faucet
A clogged bathtub faucet can cause low water pressure. Bathtub faucets vary in design, but one of these methods should work to clear the clog in general.
Removing and reassembling faucets involves many small parts and pieces that have to be installed in the correct order. If you’re not sure you can reassemble the faucet after removing it, call a plumber.
How to Unclog a Two Handle Bathtub Faucet
- Go to the water heater and shut off your hot water completely
- Remove the hot water knob and stem
- Turn the water on and off several times to flush any debris out
- Reassemble the faucet and turn the hot water back on to see if it worked
How to Unclog a Single Handle Bathtub Faucet
- Remove the chrome faucet cover
- Screw the two screws on the sides of the faucet in as tightly as you can; if you can’t find them, just shut the main water supply off for now
- Remove the stem, then turn the water on and off several times to flush it out
- Reassemble the faucet and turn the water back on if needed to test the pressure
Low Hot Water Pressure in Washing Machine
If your lack of hot water pressure is only happening in your washing machine, the culprit will be close by.
1. Plugged Water Valve Screen
The water valves that bring water to your washing machine have screens inside that can clog up, just like faucet aerators. If that’s the case, you should be able to fix it pretty quickly.
How to Clean a Water Valve Screen
- Unplug and pull out the washing machine
- Turn the hot and cold water off
- With a bucket handy, remove the tube that connects the hot valve to the machine and let it drain into the bucket
- Inspect the small cone-shaped screen on the hot water line for any damage, debris, or gunk
- Wipe the screen clean or buy replacement screens to install
- Reconnect the water lines and run the hot water to see if it increased the pressure
Note that some water valve screens are built into the inlet valve and can’t be removed. If that’s the case, you should call a plumber to find the correct part and install it for you.
Low Hot Water Pressure in the Whole House
If the low hot water pressure isn’t confined to one sink, shower, or tub, something is going on with your water heater or pipes.
It’s smart to troubleshoot to discover the problem, but you definitely need to call a professional plumber for these problems. You could inadvertently damage your plumbing, burn yourself, flood your house, or cause a new leak.
If you don’t have a plumber you know and trust, just use our form to get a free quote from a plumber near you. We have highly rated plumbing professionals nationwide in our database.
1. Sediment Buildup in Water Heater
Sediment naturally builds up in a water heater over time, especially if you live in an area with hard water. When this happens, the water heater might make a popping or knocking noise.
The only fix for sediment buildup in your water heater is flushing it out. And that’s best left to a pro, as many things can go wrong if you try to do it yourself.
What a Plumber Will Do
A plumber will be able to flush your water heater to remove all the sediment. They will completely drain the tank, clean out the tank, and refill it.
You should do this least once every three months to extend your water heater’s life. Once the tank has been flushed, your hot water pressure should be restored.
If it’s not, your plumber might notice a problem with the pipes attached to your water heater.
2. Water Heater Pipes Too Small
If low hot water pressure has been a longstanding problem at your house or just moved in, this could be the issue.
The hot and cold water pipes attached to your water heater should be 3/4 inch copper or CPVC. If you see older galvanized steel pipes or any 1/2 inch pipe connected to the water heater, it could be the problem.
They aren’t big enough to create good water pressure. In this case, there’s not too much a plumber can do without replumbing the house, and there’s certainly nothing you can do to fix the problem.
What a Plumber Will Do
A professional plumber can safely and properly replumb your water heater with the proper pipe diameter and material.
An experienced plumber will notice the 1/2 inch pipes right away and suspect they’re the reason for your pressure loss.
3. Leaky Hot Water Pipes
Ever had a garden hose with a leak? The constant water loss out of the leak reduces the water pressure you get out of the hose opening. The same thing could be happening with your hot water pipes.
A hot water pipe with even a small leak causes considerable pressure loss. They run your energy bills up like crazy due to all the hot water usage.
What’s worse, these leaks don’t stay small for long. Eventually, they put enough pressure on the pipe to burst and cause major water damage.
What a Plumber Will Do
A plumber will thoroughly check your basement or crawl space to look for any leaks. A bad leak can quickly turn into a flooded basement.
They will look around your house for any sign of water damage on the walls and floors. If they notice a leak, even a small one, they will get it fixed right away.
It will restore your water pressure, avoid further damage, and lower your energy bills. And, you’ll no longer have low water pressure in your home.
Avoiding Low Hot Water Pressure Problems
Once you’ve dealt with low hot water pressure, you don’t want to be in the situation again. You can avoid low hot water pressure in the future by doing two things:
- Finding a plumber you trust
- Committing to regular home maintenance
Keeping your aerators, faucets, and shower heads clean should become part of your home maintenance list. Call your plumber to take care of any plumbing maintenance you’re unsure of or don’t want to do.
Have your plumber flush your water heater every three months. This will extend the life of your water heater, which is expensive to replace. It keeps your hot water pressure up, lowers energy bills, and keeps your warranty valid.
Working with a skilled plumber, whether it’s for a sudden problem like low hot water pressure or regularly scheduled maintenance, keeps your home’s plumbing in top-notch condition for years to come.