Water pressure describes the force that pushes the water through your pipes. It’s measured in ‘bars’, and is an important part of a functioning water supply because it determines the flow of water from your taps.
Lots of different things can affect water pressure, including how high your house is built, and how many people in your area are using the water.
In this section you’ll learn all about how water pressure can change, as well as how an adult can diagnose and fix low water pressure in the home.
Is water pressure regulated?
The water industry regulator Ofwat determines the minimum standards of water pressure. The guaranteed standards scheme (GSS) sets out that Yorkshire Water must maintain a minimum pressure of water in the pipe serving Yorkshire’s homes with water of seven metres static head. This measurement refers to the height of a column of water at rest that would produce a given pressure.
What factors can affect water pressure?
A number of factors can affect water pressure. Some are found outside of the home, for example, if there is a leak in the pipes under the road. In this instance, Yorkshire Water is responsible for fixing the problem.
If you do find a leak, you can report it online using our interactive map.
Condition of your pipework
Other factors are found inside your home, like the size and length of internal pipework. The further water has to travel, the lower the pressure will likely be. Age can also be a factor, especially for hot water pipes where calcium deposits can slow the flow of water.
Water usage in the home
Have you ever noticed the water pressure from the tap drop when you flush the toilet? As a rule, the more water being used at any one time, the lower the pressure will be. This happens when the water flow is split between multiple outlets.
Distance to the water storage tank
The closer your home is to the water storage tank, the lower your pressure will be. Similarly, the lower your home is in relation to the storage tank, the higher your water pressure will be. This is because water can flow more easily with the help of gravity.
Water usage in your area
Water pressure can vary at different times of the day. On a hot day when people are using garden hoses and sprinklers, the water pressure may be lower. This is also true during peak hours like in the morning when more people are running taps.
What does pulsating water pressure mean?
If the water coming out of your taps is pulsating or changing pressure it could indicate a problem with one of the following:
There could be debris in the pressure release valve supplying your home. There could also be a loose washer in the tap where the problem is occurring. Failing that, your water tank could be waterlogged, meaning there might be too much water and not enough air. This can cause your water pressure to fluctuate.
If the problem persists, you may need the advice of a plumber who can diagnose and fix the issue.
How do you increase water pressure?
Is low water pressure plaguing your home? Make sure an adult checks the following points before seeking expert advice.
Is there planned work in your area?
Local repair work can often affect water pressure temporarily. A letter should be posted to your home from us, but if you’re unsure, you can enter your postcode here to find out.
Is there an incident affecting water supply in your area?
Unplanned incidents in your area like a burst water main can explain a sudden drop in water pressure. Remember to check our website for the latest updates and advice.
If there are no issues with the water supply to your home, let an adult try the following to increase the water pressure.
Clean the tap
Have an adult unscrew the aerator at the end of the tap with a pair of pliers and give the parts a good clean. Then run the tap for a couple of minutes to clear any sediment in the pipe.
You might want to soak the parts in water and vinegar for a few hours for hard to remove stains. Repeat the process with your showerhead with and see what difference it makes!
Check the water meter to rule out leaks
With the help of an adult shut off all water in your house and then read the water meter. If the small triangular or disk-shaped dial on the meter is spinning, water is still flowing. This indicates that there might be a leak.
Make a note of the reading, and see if it changes after a few hours. See our leaks page for more information about water leaks and how to report one.
Why is the hot water pressure lower than the cold water pressure?
Over time the inside surface of your hot water pipes corrodes which can constrict and slow the flow of water.
Problems are usually caused by sediment, rust, calcium deposits (if you live in a hard water area) and other debris building up in the plumbing.
Deposits build up at a certain temperature, which is why low water pressure issues tend to affect the hot water more than the cold water.
Sometimes the pressure will slowly decrease over a period of time, particularly if your home has been plumbed with galvanized pipe.
Some plumbers offer a service to acid flush the water piping system, however a more long lasting repair is to test your water for hardness and then install a water softener system.