You expect your plumbing system to provide your home with hot and cold water, exactly when you need, it—right? But there’s more to it than that. Imagine walking into the shower, turning on the hot faucet, and then watching your steaming hot water trickle out in a slow arching stream, with barely enough force to wash all the shampoo out of your hair.
In this scenario, you may be thinking, “Why is my water pressure so bad?” But water flow is an equally important aspect of your plumbing, and it is important understand the difference if you are going to get your shower head (and the rest of the water faucets in your home) back to normal.
Though Ace provides a long list of home performances services to keep Calgary homes warm and comfortable all year round, plumbing flow and pressure issues are our specialty!
Defining Water Pressure
Water pressure is the most common scapegoat for low water flow issues. (Have you seen the Seinfeld episode with Kramer and the showerheads?) Water pressure is defined as the actual force and speed at which water leaves your faucet or shower. This is measured in kilopascals (kPa). The pressure of your plumbing system is determined by its gravity, along with the diameter of the pipes, the friction within those pipes, and if there is a pump being used in your plumbing.
Defining Water Flow
Water flow is defined as the amount of water that flows through your plumbing. Flow is measured in liters per second and is primarily affected by the diameter of your pipes, though friction within your pipes also comes into play. The larger the diameter of your pipes, the greater the flow. Increasing your water pressure can even out the lower flow that is inherent with smaller pipes.
Diagnosing Low Flow & Low Pressure Issues
Paying close attention to your faucets and shower heads will give you clues as to what kind of low flow and pressure issues you may be suffering from. For example, are your faucets lacking while someone is in the shower? Or are you getting a trickle throughout your home, no matter what? Are your flow and pressure issues isolated to just one part of the house? Or perhaps you only notice the issue when you turn the water to hot, instead of cold.
Here are a few reasons you may be experiencing poor water flow or low water pressure—and what you can do about it.
“My faucet is trickling when...”
I turn the faucet to “hot”
Not surprisingly, this could indicate that there is an issue with your water heater. Make sure the on/off valve is turned to “on” at the base of your water heater and that the water supply on/off valve is fully turned “on”. If you have a direct heat water heater and your water supply has somehow been turned off, you may also be in need of a new heating element.
I turn on only one particular faucet
If only one faucet is causing you problems, it is likely a constriction in the plumbing in that particular area of the house. You need a proper investigation of the pipes from a professional plumber, who can remove the obstruction and clean any necessary drains.
The shower is running or multiple faucets are running
If you find that running multiple water appliances or faucets lowers the pressure or flow of all of the other faucets in your home, this indicates a larger issue with your plumbing. This can be caused by an incorrect setting on your pressure regulator (if you have one installed), incorrectly sized pipes, or an issue with your water utility and the provided pressure and flow. Ask your neighbors if they have been experiencing any of the same symptoms. If not, it’s time to call in the local experts for a plumbing systems check.
Ace Plumbing-Calgary’s Flow & Pressure Experts
With Ace Plumbing’s 24/7 emergency services, you are never without help when it comes to keeping a steady flow and pressure throughout the faucets and shower heads of your home. And with regular preventative maintenance, you can avoid making that annoying late night call! The specialists at Ace Plumbing will make sure you are “happy today” so you can get back to enjoying your Calgary home as soon as possible.