Q&A / 

Low Water Pressure in Faucets

faucet aerator

Low water pressure in faucets is almost always caused by debris and sediment in the aerator at the tip of the faucet. This gunk can be unhealthy too! Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

Low water pressure in faucets is caused by debris and sediment in either the aerator or the valve cartridge. Remove the aerator first and inspect it for sediment, goo, or hard-water deposits.

Revised February 2018

Low Water Pressure in Faucet TIPS

  • Remove aerator from tip of vanity or kitchen sink faucet
  • Check screen for sediment and pieces of sand
  • Soak in hot white vinegar to remove hard water deposits
  • Replace valve cartridge if problem persists
  • CLICK HERE to get FREE BIDS from local plumbers

DEAR TIM: Several weeks ago our whirlpool faucet water pressure and volume dropped to half while I was filling the whirlpool with water. 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 quickly. What happened? What is wrong and is it expensive to correct? Patty J., Sterling, VA

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DEAR PATTY: I've been a master plumber for decades and I'm sure I can help solve your problem. Strange residential water pressure problems are far more common today than they were years ago.

Part of the dilemma has to do with the internal design of many modern faucet valves and another part of the problem is directly related to natural resource conservation measures.

Low Water Pressure Caused By Small Clogged Pathways

Years ago many standard kitchen, bath and shower faucets had rubber and plastic washers that contacted a circular valve seat inside the faucet. As you opened a faucet the washer would pull away from the valve seat creating a very large pathway for water to flow through.

In many faucets the pathway was so big, a small, round BB could easily pass though the faucet and into the sink or a glass of water. This older design allowed vast amounts of water to flow through a faucet and this is not a great thing when we have a growing population and limited fresh water supplies.


This is the same aerator as in the top photo. I cleaned it in just minutes with a small brush and a toothpick. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

Faucet Cartridges To Blame For Low Pressure

But many of today's modern faucets have washerless cartridges inside the body of the faucet. The modern cartridge replaces the older washer and valve seat design which controls water flow. The pathway through which water passes in these cartridges is much smaller than old faucets. These small passageways can get clogged with small pieces of sand or sediment.

Many of today's faucets also have an aerator at the end of the faucet. These devices are often made up of several small parts including a flow restrictor and a screen with very small holes. These also can get clogged very fast with very tiny pieces of sand or sediment.

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 tiny orifices.

Sediment  & Hard-Water Deposits The Culprits

I'm convinced the drop in water volume and pressure at the 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 an extremely common problem for many homeowners.

CLICK HERE to get FREE & FAST BIDS from local plumbers to solve your faucet problem.

The sediment can form within a faucet or its parts depending upon the hardness of your water. Sediment also forms as a scale on the inside of municipal water supply pipes and the water lines inside your home.

Pieces of this sediment can break off and be transported through the water lines as water moves towards a faucet. Small pieces of sand or rocks can enter a water system, especially those of people who use a private well. These can block the pathways within your faucets.

low water pressure

Low water pressure could be caused by a clogged cartridge. You'll find the cartridge just under this decorative faucet handle cover. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

These low water pressure and flow problems are very common just after a water main break in a municipal water system. Sand, dirt and other debris can enter municipal piping systems when a water main fractures. Once the water main is repaired, this debris is transported through the water system and can end up in your home.

Plumbing Solder Flux Is A Nuisance

Small shavings of piping, soldering flux, sediment, etc. can also be carried through your own pipes when repairs are made to your plumbing system or new piping is added at your home. Problems can also happen by simply turning on or off a main or secondary water control valve within your home by a plumber who might be installing a new faucet or performing a repair.

Water Main Breaks Cause Low Water Pressure

If a city 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 as the water fills the pipes.

CLICK HERE to get FREE & FAST BIDS from local plumbers who can fix pressure problems in your home or condo.

DIY Repairs Fix Problems Fast

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. Use tiny straight pins to open up any closed holes in these parts. You may have to soak the parts in warm, white vinegar overnight to removed caked, hard-water deposits that can build up within the aerator.

If, after reassembling the aerator, the water pressure and volume are still low, this means the problem is probably in the valve cartridge. The owner's manual that came with the faucet will show you how to remove and replace this common and inexpensive part. If you do not have the manual, try visiting the manufacturer's website for a technical bulletin showing you an exploded view of the faucet and its parts.

Flush Water Lines After A Repair

To stop sediment from ending up inside the faucets in your home, it is best to open up an outside hose faucet or two to allow water to flow through them after you have completed a plumbing repair on your own home. These faucets often have the old-fashioned rubber or plastic washers. It is also a splendid idea to remove all faucet aerators before water is turned back on after a repair.

I suggest turning on the main water valve very slowly after a home plumbing repair. Be sure to have the outdoor faucets open before you do this. This allows the pressure within the piping system to build slowly and a majority of sediment might be carried outdoors if the repair was made between the location of the hose faucet and the main water inlet to the home.

If a water main breaks near your home and you notice there is no water in your home, do the same thing. While the water is off, go turn on one or two outside hose faucets. Also remove all faucet aerators. Since the water works employees will often turn the water on without notifying each homeowner, you may not get a warning. You want any sediment to be carried to these outside hose faucets or bypass faucet aerators if at all possible.

CLICK HERE to get FREE & FAST BIDS from local plumbers who can fix pressure problems in your home or condo.

Column 612


33 Responses to Low Water Pressure in Faucets

  1. Similar problem...outside sillcock has low flow. Removed the anti-ciphon valve and even disassembled (removed) the (frost resistant) valve stem. Still low flow. Any ideas???

  2. Had new counter tops in stalled and new Artisan pullout faucet. Had very low water pressure compared to the old Moen single handle faucet. Took out the aereator at faucet discharge, didn't help, removed valve cartridge, no blockage. Called the installer and he said He had installed hundreds of these faucets with out this problem. Well if he installed that many why didn't he tell me there is a pressure restrictor at the discharge connection of the faucet to the hose. I removed this little thing. Presto, good water pressure.

    • have the same problem with an Artisan af240 pullout faucet. did everything you did no luck.where is this exactly is this part. is it in the quick connecter. Saw a youtube that showed someone taking all the guts out of the connector because he have no water at all and it worked .is this what you mean by pressure restrictor

  3. The maimidnight water line at my wheel broke the one that goes into the ground as replace it but now I have sand in my pipes go help cold water side will not work in my bathroom my washing machine or Nothing how do I get the sand out

  4. We cannot get water to our sink faucets or toilet in an apartment over our garage. We have checked the pump to our well which is working fine and getting water to our filter unit but from there we cannot get water to the apartment. Have checked for sediment and pipes are not frozen. Any suggestions?

    • I'd unscrew one or more of the compression nuts on top of the shut off valves under the sink or toilet that's at the base of the flexible supply tube.

      If water pressure is in the line and LIQUID water, believe me you'll get sprayed! Have a old towel handy to capture the water.

  5. Several weeks ago my kitchen faucet suddenly lost half it's pressure. Last time this happened, three years ago, the manufacturer supplied a new cartridge and the problem was solved. Once again, I received and installed a new cartridge from the manufacturer and now the water pressure is down to a trickle! What happened?

  6. Thanks so much for your article. I had done some major plumbing work and in the end I had low pressure at all my sinks but regular pressure at all my spigots. I turns out that all the aerators were clogged from all the junk that gets knocked loose when you work on the plumbing. Thanks for you help.

  7. Since I moved in my newly constructed home, my water pressure seemed lower than anyone else's home I've ever been in. The city said it has normal pressure. 12 years have gone by. This includes everywhere that water comes out. Sinks, tubs, toilets, outside faucets, etc. I will try what you said in the above regarding sediment and aerators and such. Can you think what else it could be? Thanks.

  8. We are looking for a new kitchen faucet. All the ones I like have 1.5 gpm, maybe 1.8 gpm. We are used to very high water flow/pressure throughout the house. I can't stand a faucet with low pressure. Looking at Moen Camerist, Braemore or Wetherly in a darker bronze color. I cannot tell how much plastic in each one, whether it is high quality and will last and if there is a way to increase the water flow/pressure in any of them? Can the cartridge be changed? Aerator? Something else to take out?
    Also, If I got one with a side spray, would the spray be soft and not very strong? Any advice? Thanks!

  9. I have a KWC Domo Faucet with a cartridge... After replacing the cartridge, the water pressure has decreased trememdously. I've confirmed that both hot and cold water valves are turned all the way ON and I've cleaned the sediments and debris from the aerators and faucet hose... Not sure what else to check... I've installed the previous faucet cartridge, but the water pressure remained the same. Don't know where to go from here..

    Please advise.

    Thanks in advance

  10. And mine is a moen single handle goose neck faucet with built in wand. Cartridge part number 1225. I turned the water back on and it came out normally for about one second and then went down to a trickle.

  11. Hi Tim,
    I have the same scenario with Peter Rupp. He mentioned about removing the pressure restrictor and I wonder how it looks like. Anybody can show me?

  12. Is there any such thing as an aerator with wider screens? My Delta kitchen faucet continually stops up. Got a new aerator but when it is on the water backs up and comes out where the faucet connects to the base! Have had to remove aerator all together now!! Grrrr!

  13. I too have a water flow issue. I have two Kohlers single pole faucets one has good water flow the other is so poor it doesn't turn on my "On-demand" hot water heater. I took it apart and didn't "See" any obstructions, any ideas?

  14. Hi Tim!

    My wife and I just bought our first home a week ago. We started watering the garden, and for a few days there was no problem. Then one day, the water flow pressure to the sprinklers dropped dramatically, to the point where the water just bubbled and spurted rather than spraying properly as it was the day before.

    But here's the weird part. City verified pressure at 78 psi, which they said was very good. But when they tested the hose bib, NOTHING came out! They said to test the water shut off valves, but we've never touched them, and certainly didn't do anything in the 24 hours the flow changed dramatically. By the time we got home to test it, the water flow at the hose bib was back to what we had experienced.

    Incidentally, we have a shared wall with a neighbor (who has an identical home, but with a separate plumbing system) and her hose bibs are clearly full flow compared to ours.

    We did notice that this seems to be a cold water issue exclusively. We didn't notice pressure/flow issues in the house, until a friend suggested we we test the kitchen sink faucet (which has one control arm to select temperature) and we noticed the hot water flows more strongly than the cold. When we tested other sinks in the house (which have two control knobs, one for hot and one for cold) we did not notice a difference in flow. And for no reason in particular, the kitchen sink cold water stopped completely, for about an hour (the hot water remained fine). The cold water resumed as mysteriously as it stopped.

    I read your article here about obstructions, but why would obstructions affect some faucets in the home, and not others? And why the sporadic nature of the water stoppage/reduced flow?

    Thanks so much for your help!

  15. it's not always easy staying on top of all of the things that can (and do) break or wear down around the home. I was having a slow flow issue with my sink and the tips here helped out great. all I had to do was take the nozzle off of the faucet and clean away a bit of silt that had apparently been building up behind the screen. flow is strong. thanks to everyone for leaving comments and asking those questions, so that others might find the help they need a little faster.

  16. For those with the screen at the end of the fixture--
    To avoid trying to take it apart go to almost any
    hardware store for a couple $ and buy a new one !!

  17. I need help my water pressure in my kitchen is super slow but the sprayer works perfectly please oh please help me fix this problem it would make doing dishes a lot easier

    • Jessica,

      I'm VERY confused. Didn't you read my column above? Did you try doing all the things I said? Did you clean out the aerator? I'm at a loss as to why you need help when I share above exactly how to solve the problem.

  18. If my kitchen water pressure is low I press the sprayer button and the pressure in the faucet increases to normal. Should I try the techniques you have listed in the article to fix it or is this a different issue? Thank you

  19. @Jane:

    Different issue for you. Check your manufacturer's website for buying and installation instructions for replacing the DIVERTER on your faucet.

  20. What if I *want* lower pressure through my kithcen faucet sprayer. Since they all seem to be held in spray mode by the pressure of a strong flow of water, they automatically shut the spray off when i reduce the water flow. But the heavy spray is splashing all over me, and also I just prefer a gentler 'rainfall' style of spray and not hard pins and needles. I am asking this time *before* I go out to buy a new kithcne faucet for our renovation, because I really hope to find a spray mechanism that is somehow not dependent on strong water pressure, but that i just a mechanical control. any ideas? i want a pull-down sprayer if possible.

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