Low water pressure is one of the most annoying, but also the most consistent, problems that homeowners face. This doesn’t just apply to that shower in your upstairs bathroom, either; low water pressure can have an impact on the way you water your lawn or garden as well.
With high water pressure, you can reach any single part of your lawn easily no matter what your irrigation system looks like, but that’s easier said than done. If you find that your outdoor hoses or sprinkler system don’t have very high water pressure and aren’t properly reaching your plants and lawn, you might feel at a loss. Is there any way to increase the water pressure in your sprinklers without calling someone and paying thousands of dollars to a home improvement professional?
Luckily, yes, there is a way to increase water pressure. We’ll cover a two important considerations to take into account before you start making any changes, and then move on to the best tips for improving water pressure in your home sprinkler system.
What Kind of Sprinkler System Do You Have?
The first thing to take into account is: how exactly do your sprinklers work? Are you using a small, localized sprinkler that hydrates a localized area, or does your home have a large-scale sprinkler system that works completely on its own? Does the sprinkler get water from a connected garden hose or does it have its own water source? Is the water source shared with the rest of the house (bathrooms and kitchens), or is it separate?
If you’re using a small, simple sprinkler connected to a garden hose or something similar, then figuring out why you don’t have good water pressure will be pretty easy; there are only a couple of places you need to check, like the main water line’s branch-off for your house and your hose itself. Even though it might not be as convenient as having a full sprinkler system, doing maintenance should be relatively easy, even without professional help.
On the other hand, if you have a more complex sprinkler system, you’ll still need to check the main water line and such, but you’ll also have to inspect the entire system itself for any irregularities, blockages or leaks, so it may be a slightly more complex process.
How Big of An Area Do You Need to Cover?
The other thing you should take into account when looking at increasing your sprinkler system’s water pressure is simply: how big of an area do you need to cover? Do you only use your sprinkler to irrigate a small front-yard garden, or do you need to cover a front garden, a back garden, a lawn on both sides, and surrounding land?
Solutions that’ll solve water pressure issues for a small area won’t necessarily work for a larger area. You’ll need a lot more water pressure, comparatively, to increase it over such a large area. Of course, it could be the case that you have a large sprinkler system, but only need to increase water pressure in one part of it — in that case, you’ll need to consider whether or not any changes you make will have unintended consequences for the other parts of your sprinkler system as well.
This impact sprinkler by Rain Bird is a perfect example of an option that works really well for low water pressure.
If however you want to actually increase your pressure for other reasons then please read on:
What Are the Main Approaches for Improving Water Pressure?
Tip #1: Check your water line’s elevation.
It’s easy to forget, but water pressure drops easily, by .43 psi/ft. This means that even a small change in elevation between your water line and the sprinklers it serves could cause a big change in the water pressure available to your sprinkler system. Make sure that your water line elevated above the sprinkler system itself.
If it’s not, raising it a little bit in comparison the sprinkler system (or lowering the pipes feeding the sprinklers) is one of the simplest ways to increase water pressure. It might not be an easy fix, but if you leave your water line below the level of your sprinkler system, you’ll end up having to deal with it later when you can’t get the water pressure you want no matter how many improvements you make.
Tip #2: Check if water pressure is low in your house as well.
If the water pressure is low in your sprinkler system, then you’ll know that it’s an isolated problem; you can refrain from any system-wide fixes and just focus on the sprinkler or the system that feeds it water. However, if you also find that the water pressure in your showers or faucets is lower than it should be, that could indicate a larger issue with your water line or municipal water source, and you can tackle it accordingly.
This is a good approach to take before making any big changes. If you don’t, you may just find that your modifications to your sprinkler system don’t have any effect because the issue is more overarching than you previously thought.
Tip #3: Call your municipal water supply.
In the case that you do realize your water supply is equally low in both your house and in your sprinklers, and you don’t find any other problems with your home line, like water line elevation or a closed valve, then calling the municipal water supply may be a good step.
Before you call, however, make sure water pressure is low everywhere in your house, for both cold and hot water. You should probably also ask a neighbor if they’re experiencing similar water pressure issues; any issue your water company is facing will affect the houses around yours as well.
Tip #4: Check for a PRV valve on your home’s water line.
If you notice house-wide water pressure issues, and they’re affecting both your sprinklers and your everyday faucets, then a PRV valve, or a Pressure Reducing Valve, could be the issue. There may have been one previously installed in your home that you didn’t realize was there.
If you have a PRV valve, it’ll look like a large, round connector around the area that your home’s individual water line connects to the rest of the house. Try making a few small, simple adjustments; if you notice any water pressure you changes either way, then you’ll know that therein lies your problem. Don’t rotate the valve extremely one way or another right off the bat, though. That PRV valve is probably there for a reason.
Tip#5: Check your home’s water pressure shutoff valve.
Your home line has a shutoff valve which can be used to cut the water supply to your home when plumbing work or maintenance needs to be done. It’s possible that the shutoff valve is partially closed from the last time any maintenance was done, which could be affecting your home’s water supply. In that case, opening it fully could solve the problem.
Tip #6: Check for any water leaks in your home or sprinkler system.
If your sprinkler system is connected to your home’s water supply, then any leaks in your home could be affecting the sprinkler system. Furthermore, even if your sprinkler system is on its own water line, there could be a leak somewhere in the pipes that’s sapping your water pressure.
In either case, doing a thorough inspection should help you figure out if any of the pipes need to be patched. Some things to look out for are slightly damp or discolored drywall, especially around sinks and showers; water puddles in your basement or other low areas of your home; and abnormally wet spots in your yard or garden that weren’t there before.
Tip #7: Check and clean/replace the sprinkler heads themselves.
It could be that your sprinkler heads are simply clogged, not screwed on the right way, broken, or otherwise improperly installed. Walking around and doing a personal inspection of each sprinkler head will let you figure out if that’s the case.
If any of the sprinkler heads are cracked or broken, then you may be losing water pressure through them. Just make sure you find the exact right replacement at your local home improvement store, or contact the company and get a professional to do the replacement if you’re not sure it’s within your ability.
Moreover, your sprinkler heads might simply be fully-functioning but dirty. If that’s the case, you can simply clean them by hand. Most sprinkler heads can be disassembled and you can then remove a filter for cleaning.
Tip #8: Reduce the number of sprinkler heads.
The more sprinkler heads you have, the less pressure you’ll have in your system as a whole. That’s because the same amount of pressure needs to cover a wider area, leading to a decrease in the force each individual sprinkler head has access to.
If there are a couple sprinkler heads that you don’t strictly need, then removing them and capping the ends of the water line that they were attached to is a good solution. It’ll increase the water pressure in the remaining sprinkler heads, allowing them to cover a greater area.
Increasing water pressure in a sprinkler system is actually not as difficult as it sounds. Before you call a professional, there are many ways that you can try to increase water pressure on your own, just as there are many possible causes of water pressure issues. If you try out all these tips and find that none of them is working for you, however, it may be a sign that you need professional help or that you can’t solve the problem on your own.
Remember not to do anything that makes you feel unsafe. But trying out these quick fixes can put you back on the path to high water pressure and a beautiful looking lawn and garden, so don’t hesitate to get started!