Managing water pressure

We manage water pressure across key parts of our supply network to help maintain a consistent and reliable supply and reduce the amount of drinking water lost through leakage.

 

What to do if you have low water pressure

Low pressure can reduce water flow, meaning it takes longer to fill a kettle or a toilet cistern. High pressure can increase leakage and the number of repairs we undertake on our pipes. 

Our film shows you what to do if you have low water pressure.

By managing the pressure in these pipes it is possible to save water and prevent disruptions to supply.

Managing water pressure normally involves lowering pressures at night, when demand is low and pressures are generally at their highest.

However, it can involve increasing pressures during times when demand is high and pressures are normally at their lowest. Pressure is continually monitored to ensure that suitable pressure is maintained.

 

How we tackle low water pressure

Pressure management is part of our Water Resources Management Plan, which aims to safeguard future water supplies, improve water quality and protect the environment.

Find out more advice on how you can maximise the pressure that you receive.

What water pressure is

Pressure is the force that pushes water through pipes and determines the flow of water from the tap.

Low pressure can reduce water flow, meaning it will take longer to fill a kettle or a cistern.

High pressure can increase leakage and the number of repairs we undertake on our pipes.

Why it varies

The amount of pressure at your tap can depend on how much water other customers in your area are using.

Pressures are generally at their highest when demand is low, and at their lowest during times when demand is high, for instance in the morning or evening, especially during dry spells.

Water pressure also varies according to the location of your property. It will depend on the distance your home is from our service reservoir or water tower, or how high the reservoir or water tower is above your home.

Homes at the top of a hill will normally receive lower pressure than those at the bottom.

Why we manage water pressure

We use pressure management in those parts of our supply network that have the highest pressures. High pressure can damage pipes and potentially cause bursts.

By managing the pressure in these pipes it is possible to save water and prevent disruptions to supply. Pressure management is part of our strategy to reduce leakage.

How we manage water pressure

The pressure within our pipes varies across the day and we use control devices installed on our pipes to stabilise pressures.

This normally involves lowering pressures at night, when demand is low and pressures are generally at their highest.

However, it can involve increasing pressures during times when demand is high and pressures are normally at their lowest.

Pressure is continually monitored to ensure that suitable pressures are maintained.

What this means for customers in areas where pressure is managed

If you are in a part of our supply network where we are introducing pressure management for the first time you may notice a change in the pressure you receive.

This should not mean that you will receive less water, although you may need to turn your taps on further or it will take a little longer to fill a bath or washing machine.

In the unlikely event that our management of water pressure stops you from receiving a consistent water supply, we will investigate, increasing pressure when applicable, and work with you to resolve any problems identified.

 
However, the majority of customers in areas where we are managing water pressure will not be significantly affected and it is likely that they may not even notice the change in water pressure.

Formal standards for water pressure

Pressures across our supply network are managed in accordance with our Guaranteed Standards Scheme (GSS) which emphasises our commitment to our domestic customers, detailing the minimum standards of service you can expect.

Maximise the pressure that you receive

If you're experiencing a problem with your water pressure you should check that there is not a problem with the plumbing in your home. Simple checks are:

  • That your internal stopcock is fully open
  • That any other taps that control flow to your hot water system or other devices are turned on
  • If you have a thermostatic shower, whether the thermostat requires adjustment. 
If you're unable to undertake such checks or if you continue to experience problems with your water pressure, please call us on 0330 303 0368 (calls charged at local rate).

Airlock advice or spluttering taps

Spluttering taps, irregular water flow and vibrating pipes may indicate that you have air in your water lines.

Air usually gets trapped at high points in your water supply system, and to force this out, you have to temporarily increase the force of the water flowing through the pipes. The high volume of water created by turning on all of your taps causes a rush of water through your pipes that carries the air bubbles out of your water supply.

How to clear an airlock:

1  Check the main water supply valve to ensure that the water in your house is turned on.

2  Move through your house and turn on every hot and cold water tap, beginning with the tap closest to the main water supply valve. Work your way to the furthest tap.

3  Flush all toilets and run the water in all appliances or fixtures that use a water connection. For example, fill a cup with water from the refrigerator dispenser and run the dishwasher and washing machine through a rinse cycle.

4  Let the water flow for about 10 to 15 minutes or until it begins to flow normally at every tap, without any spluttering or banging.

5  Go back to the last tap you opened, farthest away from the main water valve, and turn off the water. At each toilet, turn off the tap that is closest to the main valve first, then flush the toilet. Wait about two minutes before closing the next taps.

6  Continue turning off taps. Work your way back to the first taps you opened until you’ve turned the water off at all taps and fixtures. This should eliminate the air pockets.

7  Contact a plumber to inspect your pipes if clearing the air from the lines doesn’t stop the problem. You may be dealing with water hammer or improperly sized pipes.

Tip
Loud thumps or bumps, followed by no pipe noises, are usually a sign of water hammer. Prolonged noises and vibrating are usually caused by air in the pipes. If noise or sputtering occurs when you close a water valve, or an appliance such as a dishwasher or washing machine switches cycles, it is more likely to be water hammer than air in the pipes.

 
 
 
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