How to Test Your Home’s Water Pressure

Having adequate water pressure in your home is important for ensuring that your plumbing fixtures and appliances function properly. Low water pressure can result in frustratingly weak streams of water from faucets and showerheads. On the other hand, high water pressure can damage pipes and cause leaks. Testing your water pressure is easy to do yourself and allows you to determine if your home’s water pressure needs to be adjusted.

What is Water Pressure?

Water pressure refers to the amount of force that is applied to water inside your home’s plumbing system. It is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI).

Water enters your home through the main water supply line. The amount of pressure in this main line can vary based on your location and municipal water system. But typically the pressure ranges from 30 to 80 PSI.

A pressure regulator is usually installed near where the main line enters your home. This device controls and reduces the incoming water pressure to a more manageable PSI for your home’s plumbing system. Most homes have a water pressure of 45 to 60 PSI.

Why Water Pressure Matters

The proper water pressure range allows your plumbing fixtures and appliances to function as designed.

Benefits of adequate water pressure include:

  • Strong water flow from faucets, showerheads, and appliances.
  • Allows automatic appliances like dishwashers and washing machines to fill properly.
  • Enables showerheads to produce a satisfactory spray.
  • Allows faucets to run a steady stream without sputtering.

The problems caused by low water pressure include:

  • Weak flow from fixtures.
  • Appliances not filling fully or taking a long time to fill.
  • Showers have a disappointing trickle.
  • Takes longer to fill bathtubs.
  • Toilets may not flush properly.

The risks of high water pressure include:

  • Excessive water usage.
  • Noisy pipes and fixtures.
  • Leaking fixtures due to seals and gaskets failing prematurely.
  • Pipes and fittings are more prone to damage and leaks.
  • Faucet aerators and showerheads have shorter lifespans.

So testing your water pressure allows you to determine if it needs adjustment to avoid these problems and achieve optimum performance.

How to Test Your Home’s Water Pressure

Testing your home’s water pressure is a straightforward process. There are two common methods:

Using a Water Pressure Gauge

A water pressure gauge provides a quick and accurate PSI reading. Here are the steps when using this method:

What You Need:

  • Water pressure gauge
  • Garden hose
  • Adjustable wrench


  1. Turn off the water supply to your home at the main shutoff valve.
  2. Drain the pipes by turning on a faucet to relieve any pressure.
  3. Attach the water pressure gauge to an outdoor hose bib using a short garden hose.
  4. Make sure the gauge reads 0 PSI to start.
  5. Turn the water supply back on.
  6. Allow the gauge to run for a minute until the reading stabilizes.
  7. Take note of the number on the gauge. This is your water pressure PSI.
  8. Turn off the water supply when finished testing.

This method provides an accurate PSI measurement quickly and easily using an inexpensive water pressure gauge that can be found at most hardware stores.

Using the Flow Method

You can get a good estimate of your home’s water pressure using the flow method with a few simple tools:

What You Need:

  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Timer or stopwatch
  • Tape measure
  • Adjustable wrench


  1. Turn off all water in your home.
  2. Locate your main water shutoff valve and turn it off.
  3. Open an outside faucet or hose bib completely.
  4. Place a 5-gallon bucket under the faucet and turn the water back on.
  5. Use a timer or stopwatch to measure how many seconds it takes to fill the 5-gallon bucket.
  6. Convert the seconds into gallons per minute (GPM) flowing by dividing 300 by the number of seconds.
  7. Take the GPM and multiply it by 2.31. This converts it to PSI.

For example, if it took 30 seconds to fill the bucket, the GPM would be 300/30 = 10 GPM. Convert to PSI:
10 x 2.31 = 23 PSI.

While not as precise as a gauge, this method provides a good ballpark water pressure reading using common household items.

Target Water Pressure Range

The ideal water pressure for most homes is between 45-60 PSI.

Adjustments should be made if your measured PSI is:

  • Below 40 PSI – This indicates low water pressure.
  • Above 80 PSI – This signals high water pressure.

Most often, low pressure is the problem needing correction rather than high pressure.

How to Increase Low Water Pressure

Here are some steps to take if your water pressure reads lower than 40 PSI:

  • Inspect your pressure regulator – Low pressure may indicate it needs adjusting or replacing if old.
  • Check for blockages or buildup – Scale, rust, and sediment can obstruct pipes and lower pressure. Flushing your water lines may help improve pressure.
  • Examine water meter – Impeller fins inside the meter can get jammed and reduce flow.
  • Check for undersized pipes – Inadequately sized supply lines and pipes will restrict flow and decrease pressure.
  • Assess pump capacity if on a well system – An inadequate well pump may need upgrading to improve pressure.
  • Install a booster pump system – This can effectively increase water pressure from a low main line pressure.
  • Replace old galvanized pipes – Built up mineral deposits inside corroded pipes hinders water flow.
  • Repair leaky pipes – Leaks are a sign of plumbing problems that can diminish pressure.

In many cases, fixing the underlying problem is the best solution for restoring full water pressure.

How to Decrease High Water Pressure

If your water pressure reading is above 80 PSI, here are some ways to reduce it:

  • Adjust your home’s pressure regulator to lower PSI to 50-60.
  • Install additional pressure regulation if your main pressure regulator fails to lower it sufficiently.
  • Use pressure reducing valves at fixtures prone to damage from high pressure.
  • Replace the pressure regulator with a new one rated for your home’s plumbing system size. Over time, they can become inaccurate.
  • Install water softening or conditioning systems – This can help control scale buildup which blocks pipes.
  • Ensure your water meter/main line is adequately sized – Undersized meters and pipes can artificially increase water velocity and pressure.
  • Check for partly closed supply valves – These can obstruct water flow, causing pressure to intensify.
  • Flush pipes to remove any built up mineral deposits.
  • Replace galvanized or old steel pipes which have internal corrosion and scale accumulation.

Controlling high water pressure protects your plumbing system and prevents leaks, floods, and damage to fixtures.

How Often to Test Water Pressure

For most homes, testing water pressure annually is recommended.

Check it more frequently if:

  • You notice changes in performance of fixtures and appliances.
  • Hear banging or hammering noises from pipes.
  • See leaks or signs of damage from pressure.
  • After any repairs or replacements to your plumbing system.
  • When installing any new fixtures or appliances.
  • If your home is on a private well system.

Routine water pressure testing allows you to monitor your plumbing system and make adjustments as needed.

Signs of Water Pressure Problems

In addition to annual testing, be alert for signs of improper water pressure:

Symptoms of low water pressure:

  • Decreased flow from fixtures
  • Longer wait times for hot water
  • Appliances fill slowly
  • Showers have weak spray
  • Toilets refill slowly between flushes

Indications of high water pressure:

  • Dripping or leaking fixtures
  • Damaged or burst pipes
  • Faucet aerators frequently need replacing
  • Noisy water pipes and hammering sounds
  • Higher than normal water usage and costs

How to Maintain Proper Water Pressure

Take these preventive measures to maintain good water pressure:

  • Install pressure regulating valves where needed.
  • Replace old pipes and fittings that restrict flow.
  • Use pipe materials rated for your home’s water pressure.
  • Periodically inspect your pressure regulator.
  • Flush water heaters and pipes to remove sediment buildup.
  • Make sure water meter/main line is right-sized for your home.
  • Address leaks promptly to avoid pressure fluctuations.
  • Insulate pipes in unheated areas to prevent freezing and blockages.

Proper water pressure helps ensure your plumbing operates safely and efficiently. Testing pressure annually and fixing any issues is essential maintenance for all homes.

FAQs About Testing Water Pressure

What is a normal PSI for home water pressure?

The normal range is 45-60 PSI. Above 80 PSI is considered high while below 40 PSI is low pressure.

What PSI is considered high for home water pressure?

Water pressure over 80 PSI is regarded as high. Sustained pressure above 80 PSI can cause problems in your plumbing system.

Is it bad to have high water pressure?

Very high pressure (over 100 PSI) can be detrimental and cause leaks, damage, and excessive water usage. Moderately high pressure (80-100 PSI) can also shorten the life of fixtures and strain pipes.

Can too much water pressure cause leaks?

Yes, high pressure can put stress on pipes, seals, and joints. This will eventually cause failures resulting in leaks throughout your plumbing system.

How do I increase water pressure in my house?

Check for clogged pipes, flush your water system, replace your pressure regulator, inspect your water meter, check for small piping, and consider installing a booster pump if pressure remains low.

What should water pressure be for a shower?

For a satisfying shower spray, you need water pressure between 45-55 PSI. Pressure lower than 40 PSI will give you more of a trickle.

How do I lower high water pressure at home?

Adjust your pressure regulator to a lower PSI, install additional regulators, use pressure reducing valves, replace old corroded pipes, ensure properly sized meter/main line, and eliminate partial blockages.

Will a whole house water filter affect water pressure?

Whole house filters can slightly reduce your water pressure, depending on the filter grade and flow rating. However, the drop is negligible in most cases.

How often should water pressure be checked?

Test your water pressure annually. Check it more frequently if you have an older plumbing system, are experiencing changes in performance, or after any repairs.


Having properly balanced water pressure in your home is important for a well-functioning plumbing system. Testing your water pressure periodically is an easy DIY task. Use either a gauge for precise PSI or the bucket method for a rough estimate.

Address low pressure by inspecting your plumbing components and making repairs as needed. Control high pressure by adjusting regulators, installing pressure valves, replacing pipes, and ensuring adequate line sizes.

Monitor your plumbing fixtures for signs of improper pressure. Annual testing, preventive maintenance, and prompt pressure adjustments will keep your plumbing in good working order.

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