One of the biggest water problems faced by homeowners is low water pressure to the kitchen faucet, showers and other water outlets. To fix this problem you need to determine the cause. Many such problems, particularly in the kitchen, are easy to fix, and may not even require the services of a plumber. You might however be interested in our article on the best kitchen faucets in case you are looking for some kitchen upgrades.
Is the problem localized or general?
The first step to resolving the issue with low water pressure to the kitchen faucet is to determine the size of the problem. If you have a problem with other outlets in the house then the low water pressure is less localized than just the kitchen. Water pressure describes the force at which the water moves through your plumbing system. It can change during the day as the demand for water changes.
If you have low water pressure in the whole house, you should check with the neighbors to see whether they have the same situation. If they do, it is likely an issue with the municipal supply. If this is the case and you can’t live with the problem,you may have to outlay some cash and install a water booster to increase the pressure to your outlets. If the neighbors are happy with their water pressure then the problem lies elsewhere.
Where to look when yours is the only home in the area with a problem
If you have recently embarked on remodeling and added water outlets to your home, the increased demand could have caused the pressure to drop. If this is the case you may need to increase the size of your main water pipe.
Many homes have a regulator known as a pressure reducing valve that controls the pressure of the municipal water into the home. Locate yours. It is bell-shaped and is usually located on the water line where it enters the home.
Adjust the setting. To increase water pressure, loosen the screw located on the top of the valve by turning it counterclockwise. Run the water again to check the pressure. Sometimes these valves can become worn and will affect the water pressure to some or all of the faucets in the house. If you suspect that this is the case replace it yourself or call a plumber.
Leaks in the water pipes can also lead to a reduction in water pressure. To check whether there is a leak anywhere in the system, switch off your main water valves. Take a reading from the water meter. Go back in a couple of hours and check the meter again. If the reading has gone up, you have a leak in your pipework.
Fixing the water pressure problem when only the kitchen faucet is affected
If you have determined that the water pressure problem relates only to your kitchen faucet, the solution is at hand. Before you get too technical check the water valves. These are normally located right under the kitchen sink. There should be two, one for hot water and one for cold. Ensure that they are both fully open. If they are not this may be the cause of your problem.
Whilst under the sink, check the water supply hoses to make sure that they are not kinked.This would cause a partial blockage with a subsequent drop in water pressure. Low pressure in the kitchen faucet is typically caused by one of two reasons – a blocked aerator or a blocked cartridge.
How to check the aerator
The aerator fits into the end of the faucet.It acts as a restrictor that is used to reduce the water flow by adding air. It has many small holes in it which can become clogged with mineral deposits and sediment over time. It is the most likely cause of the water pressure problem and the easiest to resolve.
- Remove the aerator from the faucet. Try unscrewing it by hand. This can be surprisingly difficult. You may need to resort to a pair of pliers. Place plastic tape on the gripping surfaces so that they don’t scratch the metal, or alternatively use a cloth to protect the metal
- If you are unable to remove the aerator, you may have to try to remove any clogging with the aerator still in place. Pour vinegar into a plastic bag and tie this around the end of the faucet for several hours. This should help to dissolve some of the debris that is causing the problem.
- If you get the aerator off, you can soak it in a dish of vinegar and warm water for several hours. If it is still blocked after this you can try using a commercial lime remover to clean it. Failing this you can replace the aerator. They are not very expensive.
- While the aerator is off run your faucet to determine whether you have found the cause of the problem. If the pressure is still low after the aerator is removed the problem must be further down the waterway, and you may have to employ the services of a plumber.
- After you have cleared the aerator, rinse it out and screw it back again. Check the water pressure. If you have cleared the mineral deposits and sediments from the aerator your water pressure should be restored.
How to check the cartridge
Most modern faucets have cartridges. These have small holes which can sometimes become blocked with debris. This will cause a drop in water pressure to the faucet. To check the cartridge -
- Turn off the water supply. Run the faucet to allow all the water to flow out. Put the plug into the sink so that you don’t drop anything down the drain.
- Locate the screw under the faucet. Remove the screw cap by means of the screwdriver. Use the Allen wrench to remove the screw that fastens down the faucet.
- Lift the handle off the faucet and remove the cartridge nut. Take out all the pieces that are in the faucet and place them in the correct order upon a towel so that you know exactly how to put them back.
- Take the cartridge out and wash it under clean running water.
- If there is a buildup of limescale on the cartridge, soak it in vinegar to loosen the deposits. If the cartridge is looking a little worn it may be time to replace it.
- Place the cleaned or new cartridge back into the faucet making sure that you align it with the slots in the faucet cavity. Replace all the parts that you have removed and then check your water pressure.
If you have a pullout spray head check that too
Similarly, if your faucet is a commercial kitchen faucet with a pullout sprayer this could also cause the water pressure problem. To check remover the spray head from the hose. Switch on the water. If the pressure is adequate then the spray head is the problem and probably has a mineral build up. Clean the mesh with a vinegar and warm water solution.
It could be a blockage
If neither cartridge or the aerator is causing the low pressure, you may find that you have a blockage in the pipe leading to the faucet. Over time your pipes can become clogged up, especially if you are in a hard water area. Mineral deposits build up in the pipes. The buildup can slowly strangle off the water supply. Galvanized pipes, in particular, tend to build up debris and sediment over time.
To inspect the pipes, you will need to open a pipe access point. Unscrew the riser and back up the pipe so that you don’t damage it. Place a bucket under the pipe so that you don’t spill water and turn the water on. Now you can check the pressure of the water coming from the pipe.
When only the hot water pressure is low
If it only the hot water pressure that is low, you should check the water heater. The hot water shutoff valve may be faulty or partially closed. If it is even slightly shut it can have an enormous impact on the water pressure.
Once properly closed, check your water pressure again. If the pressure is still not good the problem may lie with the pipework to the heater or with the heater itself. It is hazardous to work with water heaters so it is now time to call the plumber. Plumbers have diagnostic tools that they can use to locate blockages and leaks in pipes.
Most low-pressure problems are easy for the DIY enthusiast to fix
There are some problems that require professional help. Understanding the cause and the scope of the problem can go a long way in helping you to resolve your plumbing problems without running up the bills. A few simple checks may be all that is required to resolve the low-pressure water problems in your kitchen.