Why Is My Water Pressure Low In My Apartment?

You may have noticed that your showered is not giving you that strong spray you like, or your faucets may take forever to fill a bathtub or sink, or your dishwasher or washing machine may take longer than expected to run a cycle. All these issues may indicate that your water pressure is low, a problem that you may experience if you live in an apartment unit. So what could be the cause? 

Why is my water pressure low in my apartment?

  • One of the main causes of low water pressure is leaky plumbing pipes. Leaks in the pipes can result in the pressure to reduce in one part of the apartment building or throughout.
  • Another reason why you may be having issues with low water pressure in your apartment is clogged pipes. The build-up of sediments over time, causing the pipes to clog and leading to a reduction in the water coming to your shower or sink.
  • Your water pressure may be insufficient because the water storage tank on your building (and possibly its supply lines) is not up to standard.
  • If this is not the case, another reason why your water pressure is low may be due to faulty fixtures. They may be bogged down by rust and dirt, so you might need to have them cleaned or replaced.
  • If you share pipelines with your neighbors, this may be another reason why your water pressure is low – if you’re taking a shower and your neighbor is running the washing machine, you may notice a drop in water pressure. 

Apartment water pressure issues may manifest themselves in a variety of ways, all of which can be quite frustrating. If your apartment water pressure seems low, then the first thing you want to do is to pinpoint the cause. Read on to discover some of the most common causes of low water pressure and how you can remedy them.

Common causes of low water pressure and solutions to consider

1. Two different plumbing fixtures are turned on at the same time

In many cases, when you experience a decrease in the water pressure in your apartment, it is because you have two different plumbing fixtures on at the same time. For example, you might turn on your shower while your washing machine is running and find that the water coming out of the shower head is not as pressurized as it usually is. Or, you may notice that your dishwasher is taking longer than normal to run while someone is using the hose outside.

This happens because your water supply is limited in terms of circulation. This means that when you need water flow in two or more places at the same time, the water has to divide rather than simply go to one place, and this reduces the pressure. If a divided water flow is what is causing you to experience low water pressure, then your water pressure should return to normal when you’re no longer placing such a high demand on the water flow.

In the case of weak, thin streams of water from your shower, wait until your washing machine is finished running, and try turning on the shower head again. In the case of the dishwasher, turn off the hose outside, and see if your dishwasher begins to run normally. If everything works normally when you’re only using one plumbing fixture at a time, then you’re able to manage the problem. That said, you should keenly monitor your water pressure – if it ends up dropping too low, you should get the problem fixed.

2. You share pipelines with your neighbor

Shared pipelines run water into more than one unit. That means that if your neighbor washes their car or takes a shower, your water pressure is inevitably going to drop. This doesn’ mean that you share the cost of water usage, but it does mean that your water supply is divided between two or more units.

It may help to experiment with your timing and make adjustments to your routine. As long as you can assess your neighbor’s water usage patterns, you’ll be able to enjoy good water pressure once more. 

3. Leaks in the pipes

If the basement or foundation of your apartment building is flooded, then this is a clear indication that your pipes are leaking. However, it doesn’t take a leak of that degree to cause the water pressure in your apartment to drop. Leaky pipes result in the misdirection of your water supply so that even if there are no issues in our unit, you’re not getting the full water flow in your apartment. 

Leaks can cause the water pressure to drop either in a specific part of the apartment complex or throughout. If you have access to your pipes, you might want to go and inspect them and see if you find any pooling water or wet spots to be sure of the source of the problem. 

As a resident, you may be able to request the building management to conduct a more thorough inspection of the plumbing. It’s worth noting that fitting, joints, and seams are susceptible to leaks where PVC material is used.

4. Clogged water pipes

Clogs can form in the depths of the piping connected to your piping, and even a seemingly small clog can affect the flow of water to your unit and cause the water pressure to drop.

One indication that clogged pipes may be affecting your water pressure is if, when you first turn on a faucet, water comes out a normal pressure, but then it almost immediately begins to flow with significantly less pressure. 

Pipes can gum up and clog over time as mineral deposits, rust or other debris build upon the insides of the pipes and subsequently slow down the flow of water. This is especially common with galvanized pipes. Made from galvanized steel, these pipes are no longer installed in new homes. However, the material was used widely in construction in the pipes, so you can still find it in many homes.

If you’re not sure of the material used to make the pipes in your apartment, find a pipe and use a nickel to scrape the surface and see the original color of the material. Galvanized pipes have steel-grey surfaces. If the surface of the pipe looks like a penny, then it’s most likely made of copper. Plastic pipes are also quite common – they’re usually black and have visible clamps.

While you may be able to determine the material that your pipes are made out of, there’s not much else you can do. The last thing you want to do is to pull your pipes apart and not be able to put them back together. If you suspect clogging, call in a professional to take a look and determine whether the pipes need to be replaced or cleaned out.

5. Issues with the water storage tank

In some apartment buildings, water from the main supply flows to a storage tank, which then supplies water to all the taps and fixtures in your unit. Water pressure decreases the higher the water has to be lifted, so how high the water storage tank in your building is positioned above your underground supply pipe will affect how quickly the tank refills, which in turn will affect the water pressure.

You may also experience insufficient water pressure if the tank and its supply lines are in poor condition. If this is the case, you may want to have maintenance inspect the tank to see if they can fix the issue.

6. You have faulty fixtures

In some cases, a drop in water pressure may be a result of fixtures that have become faulty with continued use. A build-up of sediment, rust, limestone, or other types of mineral deposits can cause a blockage in the fixture and prevent water from flowing freely. This not only reduces water pressure, but it can also lower the quality of water that flows out as well. If it’s one or a feq fixtures that seem to have a low flow, then this may be the case.

You can test the fixtures connected to your plumbing one at a time by turning them on and observing the pressure with which the water comes out. Check to see if any aerators or screens on your faucets are unobstructed. An aerator or screen on a faucet fixture is designed to reduce the volume of water coming from your faucet without having any effect on the pressure.with continued use, aerators can get bogged down with limestone and dirt buildup.

You can try removing aerators on low-pressure faucets and check them for build-up. Clean them if they need it, then put them back on and test to see if this makes a difference in your water pressure. If an aerator does not need cleaning, it may be that the fixture itself has build-up. If this is the case, clean it out or have it replaced.

7. The pressure regulator is faulty

Sometimes a faulty pressure regulator is to be blamed for low water pressure. If you find that your water pressure is constantly fluctuating with little to no middle ground between low and high, you’re likely dealing with a faulty pressure regulator.

It’s worth noting that not all plumbing comes equipped with a pressure regulator, but if yours is, you can try to see if the device is failing to get an accurate read. To determine this, attach a water pressure gauge to the hose spigot on the outside of your unit (preferably the one that’s closest to the pressure regulator). When you turn your water on, the pressure gauge should give you an immediate read of your current water pressure.

If it turns out to be lower than the reading given by your pressure regulator, your problem might be with the pressure regulator. These devices are made to regulate  the pressure of water coming from your main supply line to a level that is suitable for your pipes. If yours is faulty, it’s best to call in a qualified plumber to fix it.

8. The water pipes are corroded

It’s one thing to have clogged pipes that can be unclogged, but in some cases, your apartment’s entire system of piping is corroded and the only option is for the property owner to completely replace them. 

Pipes, especially ones made from galvanized steel, have a limited lifespan. galvanized steel pipes can last an average of 20 to 50 years, whereas materials like iron, copper, and brass can last much longer, although even these pipes will need replacing most likely anywhere between 40 and 100 years. If the apartment building you live in is old, the plumbing may have been there for many years and has become corroded to the point that it affects the pressure of your water.

9. The main house shutoff valve isn’t fully open

If you’re the only one in your apartment building experiencing issues with low water pressure, it may be worth checking around your unit to find the source of the problem, which could be that the main house shutoff valve isn’t open all the way. 

Some homes have their water shutoff valves located either inside or outside the apartment, but chances are it’s inside your unit where the main city supply pipe enters your unit. They may be found next to a water heater or under a sink, as well as crawl spaces and basements. 

Some valves have a handle that resembles the one that you would use to turn on a hose; if this is the case with yours, try turning it counterclockwise as far as it can go. If the handle resembles a lever, the lever needs to be parallel to the pipe to be fully open.

10. The water meter valve isn’t fully open

The water meter valve is the other valve that controls the water intake in your house. This valve is owned and controlled by the water company, so you will likely never have to deal with it directly. 

If there has been work done on your apartment recently, especially if that’s when you started noticing a drop in your water pressure, you may want to reach out to your water company. It’s likely that the water meter valve wasn’t opened all the way after the work was done, and someone needs to do it so that your water pressure goes back to normal.

Final thoughts

Low water pressure can put a damper on your apartment life by affecting everything from your shower to your laundry. If you’re experiencing pressure issues, find the source of the problem and try fixing it if you can. Otherwise, you’ll want to make the property manager/ landlord aware of the issue or call a plumber to deal with the problem.

Melanie Asiba

Melanie is an author, and she enjoys traveling, reading, and trying out new things. In addition to writing for Apartment ABC.

Recent Posts