Increasing Water Pressure

Increasing Water Pressure

Check the water pressure entering your home; it should be 40 - 100 pounds per square inch (psi). If the incoming pressure is OK, corrosion, sediment, or mineral buildup in galvanized pipes may be the problem. Horizontal lines and hot-water pipes are most prone to clogs. However, any galvanized pipe can clog.

The ultimate solution is to replace old plumbing with copper pipes -- a time-consuming and expensive job. Here are several simple solutions. The method shown will clear pipes but can also clean corroded joints where sediment alone was preventing leaks. Use compressed air gently. Clear pipes between a faucet and the water heater, then use the same method to clear pipes from the water heater to the main shutoff. Don't blast compressed air through a water heater -- you could damage its lining.

Checklist

Time
Several hours to assemble the parts and to force out sediment with an air compressor

Tools
Pipe wrenches, groove-joint pliers, air compressor, hand-crank auger, wire cutters, toothbrush

Skills
Dismantling and assembling galvanized steel pipe

Prep
Determine which pipes are clogged; map where the pipes run.

Materials
Parts to connect an air compressor to a pipe, pan or bucket, perhaps new aerators

Step 1

Shut off the clogged supply line at a convenient spot on the street side of a union. At the other end of the pipe run to be cleared, disconnect pipes or remove a stop valve.

Step 2

Attach the hose of an air compressor (a model that has a holding tank) to the pipe end. Making this connection requires several fittings; consult with a home center salesperson to assemble them properly.

Step 3

While you are at the compressor, have a helper disconnect the union on the house side of the shutoff valve, such as a union near a water heater (shown). Place a pan or bucket under the union. Water contained in the pipes will flow out.

Step 4

As soon as the union is disconnected, turn on the compressor. Water -- along with a good deal of gunk -- will gush out the pipe at the other end. Repeat this process once or twice to force out lingering sediment from the pipe.

Step 5

Reattach the union and the pipe or stop valve to the other end and turn on the water. Remove the aerators from all affected faucets and run water for a minute or two to flush out more sediment.

Clearing Aerators and Screens: Step 1

If water flows slowly at one faucet or appliance only, chances are that an aerator or a screen is clogged. At a washing machine, shut off the hose valve and disconnect the hoses from the back of the machine. Pry out the screens in the machine's inlets or hose ends and clean them.

Clearing Aerators and Screens: Step 2

Use pliers to unscrew an aerator from the end of a faucet spout and clean all the little parts. Replace the aerator if it is damaged.

Augering Supply Pipes: Step 1

To ream out a pipe, buy an inexpensive hand-crank auger and cut off its tip with a pair of wire cutters so it can fit into a clogged pipe. The resulting tool will run through straight sections of pipe only. Shut off the water and drain the line.

Augering Supply Pipes: Step 2

Disassemble the pipe at both ends. Push the auger through, turning the crank if necessary. Pull the auger out and flush the pipe with running water.


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