Sediment in faucet can cause water-pressure drop
Dear Tim: Several weeks ago, our faucets water pressure and volume dropped to half. The pressure and volume slowly returned to normal. At the same time, our kitchen faucet pressure and volume dropped even more than 50 percent. It has not returned to normal and gets worse each day. All other faucets seem to work fine and the toilets fill fine. What happened? What is wrong, and is it expensive to correct? Patty J., Sterling, Va.Dear Patty: Strange residential water-pressure problems are far more common today than they were years ago. Part of the problem has to do with the internal design of many modern faucet valves. Another part of the problem is directly related to natural-resource conservation measures.Years ago, many standard kitchen, bath and shower faucets contained rubber washers that contacted a circular valve seat. As you opened a faucet, the rubber washer would pull away from the valve seat creating a large pathway for water to flow through. In many faucets, the pathway was big enough for a BB to pass though the faucet.Todays modern faucets often have washer-less cartridges, and, in many instances, the pathway through which water passes is much smaller. Many of todays faucets also have an aerator at the end of the faucet. These devices can be made up of several small pieces. If you take the aerator apart, you will discover extremely small holes in round disks made of plastic or metal. The water flowing from the faucet must pass through these orifices.To meet federal guidelines to conserve water, many modern faucets and fixtures have flow restrictors. These restrictors often have tiny holes to limit the amount of water flow.I am convinced the drop in water volume and pressure at your two faucets was caused by small pieces of sediment or some other debris that clogged a passageway within the valve cartridge and/or the tiny orifices within the aerator and/or a flow restrictor. This is a common homeowner problem.The sediment can form within a faucet or its parts. Sediment also forms as a scale on the inside of municipal water supplies and the water lines inside your home. Pieces of this sediment can break off and be transported through the water lines as water moves toward a faucet. Small pieces of sand or rocks can enter a water system, particularly when a private well is used.These low water-pressure and flow problems are common just after a water main break in a municipal water system or even when the water is turned off in your own home by a plumber who might be installing a new faucet or performing a repair. If a water main or water line inside your home is drained and then refilled with water, the incoming water can break off tremendous amounts of sediment and carry it through the water system. This happens when the surge of water rushes into the empty pipes, creating a miniature tsunami of roiling water and sediment.It is not expensive to correct the problem. The first thing I would look at are the aerators in any faucet that is giving you problems. Carefully remove the aerator and pay attention to how the different parts are assembled. Look at the parts, including the screening at the tip of the aerator, to ensure all parts are free of debris and all pathways are clear.If after reassembling the aerator the water pressure and volume are still low, this means the problem is probably in the valve cartridge. The owners manual that came with the faucet will show you have to remove and replace this common and inexpensive part. If you do not have the manual, try visiting the manufacturers website.
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