If the water pressure coming out of your tub or sink faucets seems to surge or diminish, there are some simple things to check before you call in a professional plumber. Unless you have a well and pump, your household water pressure should remain constant, but it may vary considerably when appliances, showers, sprinklers, or other water-using devices are engaged.
Common causes of surges in water pressure include fluctuating appliance water demands, fluctuations in pressure from the municipal source, a faulty water pressure regulator, or issues with the pressure tank if you have a well water system.
Household Appliance Demands
Your water heater is one possible reason for a sudden surge in water pressure. After it has been used, a valve opens and allows the tank to fill up again. While the tank is filling, the water pressure may briefly drop and then surge back up to full pressure afterward. Other household uses for water may have similar effects, including the tub or shower, dishwashers, and sinks.
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Sometimes your system might have pipes that are too small or that are corroded. This can affect water pressure in your system. Having the pipes replaced is the only real solution if this is the issue with your plumbing.
Sprinkler System Demands
If you have an automated sprinkler system, your surge could be related to the system shutting down at the end of a cycle. Large systems require a lot of pressure to feed the lines, and someone using water inside the house will notice the flow slowing down at first and then building back up to normal before a final surge when the sprinkler lines become inactive. Setting the sprinkler system to operate in smaller sections, rather than watering the entire lawn at once, may be your best solution.
Municipal Water Supply Fluctuations
Water pressure fluctuations aren't always caused by the plumbing inside your home. Sometimes the pressure from the municipal source fluctuates, and you might notice the changes when using your plumbing fixtures. Water main breaks might cause the pressure to drop temporarily before surging back to full pressure when it's fixed, for example. If you can't identify any internal causes, check with the water company to see if there's an issue with the service to your home.
Bad Water Pressure Regulator
Homes often have water pressure regulators on the main pipe leading into the home. Its purpose is to regulate the water pressure as it comes into the home from the municipal source since the water pressure coming in is often too high for your home plumbing. If the regulator stops working correctly, it could cause the water pressure to increase or decrease sporadically. Having the water pressure regulator replaced should solve the issue if this is the cause.
Well System Issues
If you have a well water system, there could be a problem with one of the well components that's causing fluctuating water pressure. In a standard well tank, water can reach the air in the tank, causing it to become waterlogged. In a bladder pressure tank, the bladder can tear or burst, which results in surging. You'll likely need a new pressure tank to fix the issue.
Another potential issue with a well system is the pressure switch. If it gets corroded, it won't be able to regulate the pressure effectively and could cause surging. It could also be a water supply issue when the pump is too fast and water doesn't come into the well fast enough. When there's enough water again, you might notice a surge in the water pressure.