How to check water pressure

If you’ve ever had a weak shower, put up with noisy pipes, had to choose between putting on the dishwasher or laundry first, or dealt with a toilet that flushes for too long, you’ve probably been living with low and/or fluctuating water pressure. 

Here are the key steps you can take to test your how to check water pressure at home and water flow, as well as some easy DIY fixes to improve water pressure.

What is low water pressure and how to measure water pressure at home?

If you’re dealing with low or fluctuating water pressure at home, it’s important to get to the root cause before deciding you need to install new pipes and pumps. In most cases, there are plenty of reasons why some things in your house might not be working as well as they should – and plenty of simple fixes that can be applied. 

What is low water pressure?

Low water pressure means the flow of water through your pipes is weak, slow and generally inefficient, impacting taps, faucets and fixtures in your home. This makes daily activities such as showering, washing dishes and using appliances like washing machines and dishwashers less enjoyable or effective. 

What causes low water pressure?

Water pressure can vary greatly depending on various factors such as location, time of day, and proximity to the water supply network. For example, if you live at the top of a hill, your water pressure is likely to be weaker as the water must fight against gravity to reach your house. 

On the other hand, if you live at the bottom of a hill, your water flow is likely to be stronger as gravity will help pull it down to your property. Similarly, water pressure may be low during peak usage times such as early mornings or evenings, when people often water their gardens.

How is water pressure measured? 

Your home's water pressure is measured in bars, a metric unit roughly equivalent to 14.5 PSI (pounds per square inch). In simpler terms, bars indicate the strength of the water flowing through your pipes. One bar is the force needed to lift water up to a height of ten metres.

What is good/normal water pressure?

Typically, the water pressure in a residential property ranges from 45 to 80 PSI. Anything lower than 40 and you’ll likely experience weaker water flow from your taps and fixtures. Above 80 can potentially damage appliances and fixtures over time. Keeping it at around 50 is often the preferred sweet spot, helping you enjoy adequate water flow throughout your home. 

However, not all homes are equal and water pressure requirements depend on their size, number of fixtures, the plumbing system in place, and more.

It’s therefore essential to know how to check water pressure at home, adjust it accordingly, and ensure it meets the needs of all family members and household activities.

How do I test my water pressure?

Quite often, low water pressure is not to do with your local water distribution system but rather, something at home. Have your neighbours been experiencing the same issues? Does every water appliance in your home indicate low pressure?

If the answer to both questions is yes, the problem probably lies at the municipality level. If the answer is no, then it’s time to test your water pressure in four easy steps: 

  1. Invest in a water pressure gauge. 
  2. Head outside to the water spigot, remove the hose, and screw the test gauge onto the spigot, ensuring the face of the gauge is visible.
  3. Turn the spigot valve on and check the reading. This will indicate the amount of pressure coming into your home (from a public utility system or a well). 
  4. Record the reading so you can compare it to future readings whenever water pressure feels different (lower or higher).

Investing in a gauge is not just a great idea for testing but also for locating pesky leaks within your home’s plumbing system. 

You can test for leaks by leaving all your valves shut (including turning off all water appliances like dishwashers and washing machines) and closing the main water valve to the house. If the pressure remains consistent for an hour, your home’s plumbing is likely leak-free. If pressure drops more than three PSI, there may be a leak and you may need to contact a plumber.

Step-by-step DIY water flow test

Another option is a DIY water flow test – all it takes is a calculator, six seconds, and you'll know your flow rate:

  1. Make sure you have your equipment – a 1 or 2-litre water jug, stopwatch, and calculator.
  2. Put the water jug under your bathroom tap or shower and turn it on for six seconds. 
  3. Calculate litres per minute. Take the amount of water in the jug and multiply the figure (in litres) by 10. This will give you your flow rate (e.g. 0.7 litres x 10 = 7 litres per minute)

A flow rate of less than 10 litres per minute indicates low pressure. If it’s 10-15 litres? Your pressure is acceptable but improvable. And if it’s above 15 litres? You’re in good shape. 

Quick fixes for low water pressure 

Discovering low water pressure in your home can be concerning, but there's no need to panic. It's important to understand there could be several reasons behind low water pressure: from sediment or scale build-up in your water heater to too many bends in your plumbing lines. However, here are some simple fixes that can help increase water pressure throughout your home.

1: Check your shutoff valve

Your shutoff valve controls how much water comes from the water meter valve and can be found in one of several locations. Check the shutoff valve to see if it is turned on properly. 

2: Clogged aerators, shower heads or pipes

When was the last time you gave your shower head or faucets a thorough clean? They may not be able to perform as well as expected due to sediment build-up. You should also check your pipes for this, especially if they are over 20 years old (steel), over 40 years old (brass) or over 50 years old (copper). 

3: Hidden leaks

If you suspect leaks are the issue, check your water heater, any flexible hoses you have, and every valve under every sink. The leak could also be coming from a frozen pipe behind a wall. You may also want to turn off all water appliances at the same time and check your water meter. If the meter shows water is still being used, that will give you further proof of leaks. In all cases, we recommend having a plumber step in. 

Boost your pressure – with an intelligent booster system

If your pressure remains lacklustre after trying the above fixes, it might be time to consider a booster solution. By switching to an intelligent booster system, you can eliminate low and fluctuating water pressure issues and start enjoying a more comfortable daily life. 

Our intelligent, durable, all-in-one booster pumps have been designed to maximise efficiency by adapting to your home’s unique demands and needs. As well as being easier to install and commission compared to older booster systems, Grundfos booster pumps will keep your water pressure at the right level for you. 

So you can enjoy reliably good water pressure whenever you need it – whatever you need it for.