Low Water Pressure in Faucets

Bathroom vanity and kitchen sink faucets have three basic causes for low flow.

Faucet Supply Valves

The supply valve, located under the sink, may not be fully open.

Faucet "stop" valve

A typical faucet supply, or "stop" valve

The typical faucet supply or “stop valve” has a handle on it that opens the valve when turned to the left (counter-clockwise), and closes the valve when turned to the right (clockwise). Make sure the stop valve is fully open by turning it to the left until it stops turning. Do not force these valves, as they become easy to break as they age.

While looking under the sink, inspect the tubing or pipe leading from the stop valve to the faucet. If the tubing is flexible plastic, ensure it does not have a kink in it, or has been crushed during assembly. If it is kinked or crushed, it should be replaced. Close the stop valve by turning it to the right (clockwise) until it stops, then remove the tubing and take it to the plumbing department to ensure you get the correct replacement.

Faucet Aerators

Most faucets have an aerator, or filter screen, that may be clogged.

Faucet Aerator

A typical faucet aerator

This aerator is most often threaded onto the end of the faucet. When removing the aerator, use a cloth around the aerator to protect it from tool marks. While looking down at the top of the faucet, you will thread the aerator to the right (clockwise) to remove it. Inspect the debris found on the inside of the aerator screen. Most often, you will find sand, hard mineral buildup or, more rarely, plastic chips. If the material rinses off easily, set the aerator aside and run the cold and hot water for two minutes each, with the aerator off. This will flush the remaining material out of the faucet. Mineral deposits may be hard to remove. You can use a commercial de-scaling product such as CLR or Lime-Away, or soak the aerator in a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water for two to three hours.

If you have two or more faucets with low flow, and the aerators are clean in both of them, it is unlikely that you would have two failed faucets. While it does happen, it is far more common for debris or scale to affect several fixtures.

Defective Faucets

If the flow is not restored, the problem could be a clogged or defective faucet itself. Many faucets can be cleaned, but the process varies by brand and model of faucet. The basic steps are to turn off both hot and cold water supplies to the faucet. Remove the handle and then access the valve cartridge, if equipped. If there is a valve cartridge, it will be within the body of the valve, and removing the handle will reveal screws, a nut or a clip that is removed to thread or pull the faucet cartridge out of the faucet. Once it is removed, inspect it for sand, mineral buildup or other debris. If the o-rings or gaskets look worn, take the entire cartridge to the plumbing department to ensure you get the correct repair parts. Some cartridges are available as a complete replacement unit.

The article on Low Water Pressure for the whole house will have more information on looking for blockages in the main water supply lines. Usually, this results in low water pressure at every fixture.

21 Responses to Low Water Pressure in Faucets
  1. Russell
    November 13, 2011 | 10:17 am

    Over night the hot and cold lines to the bathroom sink dropped to almost no water coming out of eather line. The rest of the bathroom water is running fine. The house is about 70 years old. I looked under the house and found no water leaks. As far as I can tell no other lines are running slow. Just the sink in the restroom??? Any thoughts as to what I can look for?

    • Deb
      February 28, 2012 | 7:51 am

      This happened to me as well. Help!

    • Chris
      March 25, 2012 | 12:13 pm

      I had the same problem as you, but as it says above, check your faucet. It wasn’t the lines, it was the faucet itself, I took off the Aerator from the tip of the faucet, and once that was off the pressure was just fine, it was just the calcified tip. I’m going to clean it out with some CLR and see if that works, if not, I’ll just leave the tip off, hope this helps.

      • leatha wood
        June 12, 2013 | 12:52 pm

        This worked right away I took off the faucet tip cleaned the strainer and wow such pressure! Thank you Chris

  2. Balaji
    December 17, 2011 | 5:15 pm

    Most of the facusets and shower heads have low water pressure. However a couple of sinks work fine though. Any guesses on where I s hould be looking at?

    Thanks

  3. Carol
    April 7, 2012 | 10:53 am

    water pressure throughout entire house is low continures to outside what can we co

  4. Carol
    April 7, 2012 | 10:54 am

    water pressure throughout entire house is low what can we do house is 10 years old

  5. Carol Durocher
    April 7, 2012 | 10:56 am

    low water throughout entire house and outside faucets what can we do

  6. danielle
    April 24, 2012 | 10:30 am

    The hot water in my kitchen sink has recently dropped to about half of its usual flow. I don’t see a kink in the water hose above the stop valve. Is there something else that could cause this? The cold water runs just fine so it is not a dirty faucet head as far as I can tell.

    • Jill
      October 5, 2013 | 1:02 pm

      Did you figure this one out? I have low hot water pressure in the kitchen sink and dishwasher and low cold water pressure in one bathroom

  7. Doug
    May 17, 2012 | 6:38 am

    This morning my bathroom faucet was working fine, and then I heard some kind of “thud” that sounded like it came from the pipes and afterwards the water pressure went down about 90%. I just get a tiny drip from both the hot and cold. All other faucets are working normally and I don’t see or hear any kind of leaks. Any idea what could be going on? Thanks

  8. AmySue
    May 19, 2012 | 7:58 pm

    Have been having off and on problems with water flow in the house. Over teh last couple of months I’m finding when I am replacing cartridges, cleaning aerators, replacing angle stops, toilet tank valve and replacing the release valve to solar water panels (plumber did this one as was copper pipe solder job) ….is something that looks like calcium build up but is not granular or solid and dissipates quickly when disturbed.

    I can get the water flow restored only to have it reduce with in a few days or weeks.

    The only facet I have not gotten cleared yet and the facet has been replaced and a new cartridge in it is the kitchen faucet. It’s a Moen so the bank has not been broke there as they warranty their products.

    What am I dealing with Im tired of my weekends being all plumbing related.

    • AmySue
      December 4, 2012 | 8:40 pm

      Well….6 months later and I think I may have found the culprit for the issues with the plumbing. The same debri that has been in the faucets, toilet,shower and supply valves is in the water heater when we flushed it.

      Tried calling a few places (plumbers and supply houses) to find out what it is. Never got any answers just get told the water heater needs replacing.

      Any other thoughts?

  9. delilah finnell
    July 19, 2012 | 6:46 pm

    Valves in shower need to be replaced, I think I hope that is all my problem. HELP!

  10. Nick Jones
    August 12, 2012 | 8:55 am

    I just built my house in december and moved into the house in january. I have had no problems with water pressure until this past week. My kitchen sinks water pressure is basically dripping with it turned on all the way, everywhere in the house and outside are working fine. I do have a tankless water heater, which I dont see that causing any problems. What should I do?

  11. Ben G
    August 20, 2012 | 10:35 pm

    I changed the faucet for my bathroom sink and now the water has very low pressure, the bathtub and rest of the house are perfectly fine. It’s a brand new faucet and I changed the lines as well but could not fit on the faucet supply valve so I left it out.
    What could be the cause for my problem? Any help would be appreciated.

  12. Ross
    November 6, 2012 | 1:50 pm

    Often it is only a shower valve that needs replacing, so don’t get too worried that you have to replace your whole shower or anything!

  13. Jim
    November 30, 2012 | 8:57 am

    The house is 6 years old. The water presuure in the flexible hose kitchen sink has dropped. We have a well, but the pressure in the bathroom sink and shower is fine, as is the toilet refill. The only other problem I have had was with the toilet but cleaned out some sand and works fine. I have checked the kitchen faucet for sand as well and have not found any. Someone commented that it may be air, and I should bend / kink the flexible hose to solve this problem. Any suggestions ?
    thanks

  14. Kathleen
    January 7, 2013 | 9:31 pm

    I am not getting very much water pressure coming out of my hot water or cold what do I do.

  15. Pat
    February 7, 2013 | 8:18 am

    last week the main shut off valve of my house (built 1985) was leaking, called a plumber, he replace that valve and asked me if we have issues with water flow, ex; when someone is taking a shower upstairs and the washer is running downstair, if the water flow is reduce upstairs, i said a little but nothing major, days later one of the bathroom sink cold water stop flowing, i get only a few drops, the hot water for the same sink is flowing ok, i close and open the cold water valve under the sink and still no cold water in that sink, i have no other problems through the house, do i need i need to replace the faucet completly? or could be something more complicated?

  16. Glenda green
    January 23, 2014 | 2:53 pm

    I had a new faucet and sink in my hair salon installed. I had great water pressure until the new faucet was installed. Now my pressure is very low. This is the first time a vacuum breaker has been installed. Could the vacuum breaker create the reduced water pressure?

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