5 Common Reasons Why You Have Low Water Pressure in Your Kitchen Sink

Lydia Schapiro
Written by Lydia Schapiro
Updated September 7, 2021
A woman washing her hand in a faucet
Photo: Sesaon / Adobe Stock

Low water pressure in the kitchen sink is a fixable issue that only involves a little time and investigation

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Low water pressure can be frustrating, especially when it’s in a room you use as often as the kitchen. Although both high and low water pressures indicate problems, high water pressure is more damaging and can require hiring a local plumber

Luckily, fixing low water pressure can usually be a DIY job. By investigating some parts of the sink, you can likely determine the source of low water pressure in the kitchen faucet and solve the issue.

Is Water Pressure Low in the Whole House?

The first thing to do when you notice low water pressure is to determine whether it’s in one spot or the entire house. If all or many faucets in your home have low water pressure, ask your neighbors if they’re facing this problem—if they are, this is an indication that your municipal water supply is the problem. Contact your water provider to report the issue and get more information.

What If Water Pressure Is Only Low in the Kitchen Sink?

Even if the low water pressure problem is isolated to your kitchen, it can still be incredibly frustrating to get a trickle from the faucet when you’re trying to fill up a pot to boil pasta. Thankfully, there are usually only a few things to blame for low water pressure in the kitchen sink:

  • Clogged aerator

  • Blocked or broken cartridge

  • Impaired water lines

  • Pipe leaks

  • Malfunctioning pressure reducing valve

Many of these issues have an easy fix you can implement yourself or with the help of a pro.

1. Clogged Aerator

A woman repairing a faucet
Photo: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/DigitalVision / Getty Images

Usually located at the end of the faucet spout, the aerator consists of a screen that covers the water outlet and controls the flow rate. In addition, it conserves water by adding air to the water stream. When minerals or hard water clog the aerator, the result is often low water pressure.  

How to remove and clean the aerator:

  • Twist the aerator clockwise; if necessary, use pliers with tape to get a better grip.

  • Remove the metal or plastic screen inside and scrub with an old toothbrush.

  • If it’s super clogged, soak the aerator in vinegar overnight, brush off the remaining debris, and reattach it to the faucet.

2. Blocked or Broken Cartridge

The cartridge is responsible for opening the valves for water to flow and turning off the water when you shut off the tap. In addition, it contributes to preventing leaks and other malfunctions. From time to time, debris, hard water, sediment, and corrosion can build up in the cartridge, resulting in low water pressure. 

How to remove and clean the cartridge:

  • Turn off the supply valves under the sink and turn on the faucet to release the residual water. 

  • Use your sink stopper to ensure nothing gets into the drain.

  • Using a screwdriver, detach the cap covering the faucet screw.

  • With an Allen wrench, remove the screw cap.

  • Locate the retaining nut, which is typically at the base of the handle, and remove it with a wrench.

  • Pull out the cartridge and soak it in vinegar and warm water overnight.

  • Use a hard bristled brush to scrub the cartridge.

  • If the cartridge is still very scratched up, it’s probably time for a replacement.

3. Impaired Water Lines

Broken or damaged water lines typically result in water pressure problems. Common causes for water line damage include corrosion, debris, and sediment—when this occurs, the nearby faucets are affected. 

How to check the water supply lines:

  • Shut off the water under the sink.

  • Place a bucket under the sink—the bucket can catch potential residual water that may flow out after you disconnect the supply line.

  • Turn the nuts on the water supply line under the sink counterclockwise to loosen the line; if they don't turn, use a wrench to loosen them.

  • With the line pointed into the bucket, turn the water back on.

  • If water comes out, the culprit of the low water pressure is probably within your faucet—in this case, it’s probably time to replace the faucet.

  • If no water comes out, call a plumber who will be able to help you understand the issue.

4. Pipe Leaks

When a pipe that supplies water leaks, the result may be low water pressure. If there is any excess water in areas under and around the kitchen sink, this could indicate a pipe leak. 

Since leaks aren’t always visible, check the basement for watermarks near pipes, and inspect areas around water heaters and faucets. To check for hidden bathroom leaks, look for musty smells, mildew, damaged paint/wallpaper, ceiling stains, and damaged flooring. If you notice any of these signs, contact a local plumber who will be able to diagnose the problem and fix the leak. 

5. Malfunctioning Pressure Reducing Valve (PRV)

The PRV is responsible for controlling the water pressure from the water that comes from the municipal supply. It has a bell shape and is usually located on the incoming water line.

How to adjust the PRV:

  • Loosen the screw on the top of the valve.

  • Turn the screw counterclockwise and check the water pressure.

If the water pressure is still low, the valve might be ready for a replacement, and it’s time to call a plumber to find out.  

What If Only the Hot Water Has Low Pressure?

A retro basin running water
Photo: StockMasters / Adobe Stock

If only your hot water has low pressure, the issue is likely your water heater. Check the water heater to ensure the outlet valve is completely open. If loosening the valve doesn’t solve the issue, contact a plumbing repair pro near you, who can identify and fix the problem.

What Is Normal Water Pressure?

In order to find out if you actually have low water pressure, it’s vital to know what normal water pressure looks like. Water pressure is measured in psi (pounds per square inch), and the normal range in homes is 45 to 80 psi. If your water pressure dips below 40 psi, it’s considered low, while water pressure higher than 80 psi is considered too high. 

Having either too high or low water pressure poses risks—with high water pressure, there is a greater chance for pipe damage, joint malfunction, and water wastage. Meanwhile, low water pressure in one place can affect your other household appliances that use water by slowly restricting water pressure in those areas as well. That’s why it’s so important to address these issues ASAP.

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