Should You Buy a House With Low Water Pressure?

Dina Cheney
Written by Dina Cheney
Reviewed by Joseph Wood
Updated August 3, 2022
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  • Low water pressure is inefficient and prevents appliances from working properly.

  • Run a test to determine whether the home has low water pressure.

  • Ask an experienced plumber to diagnose and fix the problem.

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What do washing machines that take forever to fill up, dishwasher loads that don’t get clean, and showers that seem to take an eternity have in common? The culprit behind these frustrating scenarios is low water pressure. 

To avoid buying a property with this issue, ensure that the home inspector conducts a full water pressure check while carrying out the home inspection. Let’s take a look at how to check the water pressure of your potential new home and what to do if it’s low.

Run a Full Water Pressure Check

While the home inspector evaluates the property you’re considering, ensure they do more than turn on a couple of faucets. Instead, they should turn on all the faucets, including the clothes washer’s water supply. Then, assess the flow throughout the home, especially in the shower furthest from the main water line. It should have the lowest pressure since the water needs to travel the furthest to reach it.

As an additional test, you (or your home inspector) can also attach a water pressure test gauge (about $10) to a hose bib and measure the water pressure. Ensure all faucets and water-using appliances are shut off when running the test. The home should have a water pressure of between 45 to 75 pounds per square inch (psi), with 60 psi being ideal.

What Do I Do If I Identify Low Water Pressure in My Potential Home?

Woman inspecting kitchen sink
Photo: SetsukoN / E+ / Getty Images

If the home inspector identifies low water pressure during their inspection, don’t panic. The next steps depend on whether the problem is contained to one fixture or consistent throughout the house.

Low Water Pressure in One Fixture

If you notice water pressure issues with one fixture only, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to fix the problem. The solution is as simple as cleaning or replacing that fixture, limiter, aerator, or cartridge. 

If the culprit is a clog, unclog that showerhead or the connecting pipes. If you need to hire a local plumber to clear a clogged drain, expect to pay about $200.

Low Water Pressure Throughout House

If there’s low pressure throughout the home, call an experienced plumber to find out how much it would cost to fix the problem. Since there are many possible reasons for this issue, the solution could be a simple DIY fix or a repair that costs several thousands of dollars. Rely on the expert opinion of a local plumber to diagnose the problem.

Fixes for Low Water Pressure

Read on for common causes, with the corresponding price tags. If the repair price is above your budget, you’ll probably want to consider backing out of the home purchase. 

“If on city water, start with a free call to the town to check that the line and pressure meet their standards,” says Joseph Wood, Expert Review Board member and Boston-based Master Plumber. “In some towns, this repair is free, if warranted.”

1. Adjust the Water Valves

Hopefully, the water pressure issue is just a valve stuck in the wrong position. Homes generally have two water shut-off valves: one by the water meter and one main shut-off valve near the water heater. Ensure that both valves are completely open. If you have a “gate” valve, it could be the culprit. Older "gate" valves have round handles that, sometimes, don’t open back all the way as they should.  Modern "1/4 turn" valves are called ball-valves, and they are either fully open or closed.

If you need to replace the main water shut-off valve, HomeAdvisor says to expect to pay between $375 and $600.

Also, check the setting on your water pressure regulator on the main supply pipe, which would be near your water meter if you have one. Loosen the locknut and turn the bolt clockwise. You can also ask the municipal water company to check the shut-off valve out by the street if you’re on city water. 

2. Install a Booster

Hire a plumber to install a water pressure booster pump on the main water line as it enters the home. This electric pump will feed water to a tank to maintain your desired water pressure. The average pressure booster costs about $800 (not including the installation cost). Don’t forget to add on the cost of labor, which runs from $45 to $150 per hour.

3. Soften Hard Water

Water with many hard minerals (like calcium and magnesium) can cause buildup in pipes and on fixtures, which can lower water pressure. Test the water and, if it’s hard, consider hiring a water softening company to install a softening system. According to HomeAdvisor, expect to pay between $1,000 and $2,800 to install a new water softening system. If the home already has a water softening system, make sure it’s functioning properly.

4. Put in a New Water Heater

If you only notice pressure issues with hot water, the issue is likely due to the home’s water heater. You might need to repair the appliance, which costs an average of $550. Replacing it will cost between $750 and $5,200, depending on whether you choose a standard, solar, or tankless water heater, with solar being the most expensive to install.

5. Replace the Interior Pipes

To determine whether the interior pipes are causing the problem, listen for the sound of dripping faucets and see if you detect any musty smells. You can also look for excess water, watermarks, mildew, ceiling stains, as well as damaged paint, wallpaper, and flooring. If you suspect certain pipes are leaking, turn off all the taps and record the number on the water meter. A few hours later, check the number again. If the number on the meter is higher, you’ll know the home has a leak.

 Fixing a leaking interior pipe costs an average of $150 to $350, sometimes with an extra $100 for finding the leak location. If necessary, make sure to account for the cost of repairing the ceiling ($675) or drywall ($250-$750).

6. Replace the Exterior Pipes

After about 100 years, metal water supply pipes can corrode or crack, causing them to burst or flood your home. Pipes can also clog due to a buildup of debris and minerals. To determine whether the outdoor water lines are leaking, check if any areas on the property are mushy or wet. If you discover any problems, you’ll need to hire a plumber to repair or replace the water lines. Repairing a main line leak will cost an average of $750, while installing a new main water line should run an average of $1,500.

7. Move or Deepen Well

If the home has well water, it’s possible that the well has dried up. In this case, the well will need to be moved or dug deeper. A well drilling contractor can deepen a well in about a day for between $300 and $600, including labor and materials. To move and drill a new well, the cost can run anywhere from $1,500 to $12,000 (with a cost of about $5,500 for an average depth of 150 feet), according to HomeAdvisor.

8. Replace the Well Pump

If the home runs on well water and has low pressure, the issue could be the well pump. You might need to replace this critical piece of equipment, which will cost about $1,500, according to HomeAdvisor. Repairing a well pump will run you an average of $800.

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