Advice from London plumbers: Water pressure in your home
As any London plumber will tell you, water pressure in your home can mean the difference between a trickle and a powerful jet for your showers and taps. Water pressure is used to describe the force of the water that travels through the mains and into the pipes in your home, but what can you do about problems with water pressure, and is it best left to the professional care of a London plumber?
What can affect water pressure?
Water pressure is generally measured in terms of the force needed to push water to a certain height. Usually water pressure is measured in bars, with one bar needed per 10 metres of height. Plumbers in London often find that water pressure can be a problem in the capital’s high rise flats and apartments or in some of the more hilly boroughs where more force is required for water to travel up and into pipes.
You might also find that the pressure of the water from taps and showers varies throughout the day. London is densely populated, and in the mornings when a larger percentage of the population are using showers, flushing toilets and running taps, you may notice that your water pressure is lower.
London plumbing: pipes and other fixtures
Often the plumbing in older London homes features pipes with a small diameter. These can sometimes only deliver enough water to service one tap at a time, so if multiple taps or appliances are connected to the same pipe, there is often low water flow. When this happens, the first appliance to be turned on will get the most water, and the others will tend to suffer.
Dishwashers, washing machines and other household appliances which rely on water might be affected by low water pressure. As most London plumbers will know, Thames Water is obliged to supply a minimum of 1 bar water pressure to households. This is enough to service most modern washing machines, but if your water pressure falls below this it could affect some models or brands of machines. Make sure your appliances are set to run on the minimum water pressure possible, and they shouldn’t be affected by fluctuations in the strength of your water flow.
You might hear London plumbers talking about opening or closing the stop tap, stopcock or stop valve; this is one area of your internal plumbing where they might try to improve the water pressure in your house or flat. Stop taps control the flow of water to your pipes; if they are not open enough they can restrict the flow from the mains and lead to low pressure. Stop cocks can be both inside London homes and outside; internal stop valves are usually on the ground floor, most commonly under the sink in your kitchen.
Leaks can cause low water pressure but they aren’t always immediately obvious. If you think you might have a leak, listen for a hissing sound from your pipes, or look outside for damp patches in your lawn – this is a major sign that your pipes have a leak. If you have a water meter, check that the figures are not changing drastically overnight – if they are, and you know you haven’t used any water, you probably have a leak. Repairing the leak itself is best left to an emergency plumber who will have the right equipment and expertise and should be used to dealing with the pipe work in London homes.
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