When you’re inspecting a property, don’t make the mistake of turning on only one or two faucets and then deciding that it has adequate water pressure. Instead, be sure to turn on all faucets and other water outlets, including the water supplies that serve clothes washers. Only when you have turned on and tested all water outlets can you be sure that you are looking at a property that has adequate water pressure.
Low water pressure is a problem that makes even the most appealing properties difficult to sell. But if the following situations are present, it is sometimes possible to correct the problem . . .
- The valve that controls the main water supply to the property is not turned all the way on. You might be surprised how often this is the cause of low pressure through a building. If a number of people have been inspecting a building, for example, it is possible that one of them failed to turn the water supply line completely open during a previous inspection.
- There is a leak outside the building in the main water supply line. Water supply lines can crack under a front lawn, under a city street, and in other locations outside the property you are inspecting. Sometimes these problems will be detectable because an area on a lawn is mushy or wet. At other times, it may be necessary to have a local water company, or the town, inspect water supply pipes to see if they are cracked or excessively corroded.
- There is an elevation problem. This is not too common. But in some municipalities and neighborhoods, water is supplied from a large elevated water tank. If you are inspecting a property in such an area and it is located at an elevation that is higher than neighboring properties, that could be the cause of low water pressure. Sometimes it is even possible that water pressure will be adequate on the first floor of a building, but too low on higher floors. In some cases, this problem can be corrected by repairing or replacing a water pressure regulating value (see following paragraph).
- The home has a faulty water pressure regulating valve. Not all homes have these devices in place. They are typically located where the main water line enters a building, sometimes adjacent to a water meter. If you have found an appealing property that seems to have low water pressure throughout, have a plumber look to determine whether one of these bell-shaped valves is present, and whether it is functioning correctly.
- There are mineral buildups or other blockages in supply pipes. These problems typically affect just one faucet, one bathroom, or one shower. You can try correcting the problem by replacing a shower head or a faucet fixture in an affected area. If that solution doesn’t work, the supply pipes could be clogged, and need to be replaced. Talk to a plumber. It could be a costly repair.
- The water heater is clogged with deposits and needs to be replaced. If low water pressure is a problem only on hot water lines, this is the likely culprit. Another sign of this problem is inadequate hot water. If you get only five or 15 gallons of warm water from a 40-gallon hot water heater, for example, the appliance is probably clogged with mineral deposits or silt and needs to be replaced.
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