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What is Water Pressure?

By Ken Black
Updated May 16, 2024
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Water pressure is a term used to describe the flow strength of water through a pipe or other type of channel. Indoor plumbing has made it an indispensable part of life for many places throughout the world, and therefore it is a concern for much of the planet's population. However, many may not understand how it works, or how it can be improved.

The pressure of water depends on its flow. The more water being pushed through a pipe, the more pressure there will be naturally. Many people prefer high water pressure to low, as faucet valves and other tools can help maintain the flow of water at a lower rate. However, if it is too low, there is little that can be done to improve the pressure.

As a result of this preference for higher water pressure, most people only become consciously aware of the pressure when it is no longer available. Fortunately, for those dealing with municipal water systems in more modern countries, this is rarely an issue. In most cases, when there is a lack of pressure, it is because the plumbing system of the individual house is being worked on. However, in places where there is a failure in the water mains, such as water main breaks, homes may also be affected by little or no water pressure for hours at a time.

The reliability within the water system comes primarily from the use of water towers. These structures, seen in nearly every town of any size and dotted throughout rural areas, help ensure homes and businesses on the line get serviced with adequate pressure. In most cases, the simple system relies on gravity for its essential operations.

Water towers store water for future demand, which peaks predictably during certain times of the day. When water is not at peak demand, water is stored in the tower. When it's at peak demand, the city's pumps can only handle so much, and the rest is fed in from the tank at the top of the tower. This helps a community maintain consistent water pressure, no matter what the demand may be.

Improving water pressure is often a complicated problem that can only be handled by a professional, if even then. However, for those having trouble getting their desired level, a simple change of a sink faucet or shower head, specifically designed to increase the pressure through the head, may help. While this may not truly increase the pressure to the home, it will improve it at that one particular spot.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon299557 — On Oct 25, 2012

This is the only place I could really find something about water pressure.

By WalrusTusk — On Sep 30, 2010

@babyksay - There are such things as a water pressure booster system as well. Depending on your financial situation, however, you might find it a bit costly (between $600 and $800 on average). Also, consistently low water pressure gauges might be an indication of a well problem.

By bbpuff — On Sep 30, 2010

@babyksay - It is very difficult to say since there are such a variety of spouts you can use for a bathtub. Often times if you're not sure you can call a plumber or a close friend that's a handyman. If you feel like they are trying to pull one over on you or you feel like you might be getting jipped, then tell them you will have to call to get a second opinion. People are at such a loss for work nowadays, though, that most won't try to pull wool over your eyes.

By babyksay — On Sep 30, 2010

@bbpuff - I never knew that! We have low water pressure problems in the bathroom all the time. What would you recommend for low pressure in the bathtub, though, since they don't necessarily have screw on caps to clean out.

By bbpuff — On Sep 30, 2010

Sometimes if you are having problems with your water pressure in your bathroom faucet the issue is often with the small filter that screws to the mouth of the spout. If you want to figure out how to increase your water pressure, you should first consider unscrewing that little "cap" and clean it out really well first.

By anon87766 — On Jun 01, 2010

Very, very useful. thank you. I will use this site again.

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