Shower, sink or hose, the flow rate is a critical factor for any water system you own, from the bathroom to the backyard hose. If you want to increase the flow from one apparatus, it's a relatively simple adjustment with minor drawbacks. However, you should understand the flow rate of water in the home before making any major improvements.
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Beyond the Faucet
Flow rate is measured by the gallon used per minute (gpm). It is affected by the plumbing diameter so the larger the pipe the faster the flow.
Flow rate is more than what appears at the end of the faucet opening. It begins at the water heater or softener, if you have one. A water treatment system needs time to let the chemical reaction take place in order for it to work efficiently. A heater needs time to deliver the warm water and a softener and its filters to remove contaminants. If the water heater or softener is too small for the system, you may not have enough water capacity. If you don't understand your flow rate and it's not up to speed, you can run out of hot or clean water rather quickly.
Quick Fixes for Faucet Flow Rate
The average flow rate of a kitchen faucet is 2.2 gallons per minute. Most new kitchen faucets have an aerator, the screw-on tip of the nozzle on the faucet. Bathroom faucets have a more restrictive flow of 1.5 or even .5 gallons per minute. The average home uses about 20 gallons of water a day per person from faucets. You can increase the flow by attaching a larger aerator to the shower or sink nozzle. This can assist in getting you a faster and more effective spray in your shower or in the kitchen sink to wash dishes. This will also increase your water usage significantly.
Why Flow Rate is Important
Flow rate is often overlooked by average water consumers. If the water is flowing at more than a trickle and less than explosive, it would appear to be in fine working order. This is not always the case. If it runs out of heat you may realize your water flow is at an inappropriate gauge. If you are using a water softener at the incorrect flow rate you may be running out of clean water before you realize that you have. If you have a water well, flow rate is vital to the functioning of the home.
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at www.vegaswriter.com.