Low Pressure in Kitchen Faucet — How to Fix It

Got low pressure in your the kitchen faucet? Here’s how to diagnose and treat the problem.

Did you finally gather the energy to do the dishes, but as you turn on the faucet, not much water comes out? Are you the only one in your neighborhood experiencing this and want to know the reason? Today, we’ll tell you everything there is to know about low pressure in kitchen faucets — and how to fix it.

It’s generally not too serious. In most cases, you can quickly fix it yourself without calling a plumber. However, sometimes, it does require specialized attention.

Reasons for Low Pressure in Kitchen Faucet

Some causes of low pressure in a kitchen faucet are very simple and only affect one fixture. Others are a cause for more concern. Here are five common reasons:

  • Malfunctioning cartridge.
  • Clogged aerator.
  • Damaged water lines.
  • Impaired pressure reducing valve.
  • Leaking pipes.

Malfunctioning Cartridge

The cartridge, or shut-off valve, is responsible for turning the water off by the supply lines when you close the tap. It comes with every modern faucet and will prevent leaks or other impairments from occurring.

However, debris, sediments, and corrosion inside the supply lines can severely impair the water pressure through the cartridge. There are ways to fix this, but sometimes, a replacement is necessary.

Clogged Aerator

A clogged aerator is probably the most common cause of loss of water pressure. The aerator is an attachment with tiny holes, sitting on the tip of the spout where the water exits. It serves many purposes such as conserving water, preventing splashing, and light filtration of debris and sediment.

Because an aerator is so fine, it’s prone to blockages, particularly in homes with hard water. Fortunately, it’s super easy to fix — we have a step-by-step guide further down for this.

Damaged Water Lines

Corrosion, sediment and debris also impact the water lines running inside your walls and under your floors. When this reaches a significant level, it’s bound to affect the pressure in nearby faucets. This is mainly a problem if your plumbing is older or galvanized.

Such an issue requires the skills of an experienced plumbing contractor. Both locating and fixing the problem can cause damage to walls, cabinetry, and floors.

Impaired Pressure Reducing Valve

Some homes are equipped with something called a “pressure reducing valve.” This device regulates the pressure coming from the municipal water supply into your home. It’s relatively easy to locate; look for a bell-shaped device sitting on the incoming water line.

If the water pressure is low, you can adjust it by loosening the screw sitting at the top. Turn it counter-clockwise and open the tap again to check for improvements. If it’s still too low, the valve might be worn out — we recommend calling a plumber to check.

Leaking Pipes?

Leaking pipes can also cause a decline in water pressure. The challenge with leaks, however, is that they aren’t always visible.

Inspect your basement for watermarks near any pipes, as well as around water heaters and faucets.

If you don’t find anything, you can use the water meter to check for leaks. Close off the supply by the main water valves, then check your water meter. Jot down the reading, and distract yourself for a couple of hours before checking again. If the result is higher than before, it means you have a leak.

In case there’s a leak, consult a professional. You may need to replace a pipe or two.

Only Hot Water Pressure Is Low

If you notice low water pressure only affecting the hot water line, it may not be an issue with the plumbing. Start by inspecting your water heater.

Go to your water heater and verify that the outlet valve is fully open. A partially closed valve can make a world of difference in terms of pressure. Return to your fixture and check again.

If that didn’t work, there might be a problem with the pipes nearest to the water heater. Mineral deposits and other sediment can also build up here, causing trouble. For this, however, you may need to seek help from a skilled professional.

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What’s Normal Water Pressure?

Most residential homes have water pressure ranging from 45 to 80 psi (1). However, it isn’t until it dips under 30 psi that it’s considered low. If you’re in doubt, you can use a water pressure gauge, which is simple to use and inexpensive.

Keep In Mind

Water pressure indicates the force of the water moving around your system. Avoid confusing it with the flow rate, defined by the gallons per minute coming from the tap. Flow rate is regulated by the faucet and restricts the amount of water exiting.

Kitchen, House or Neighborhood?

Another crucial step is to determine whether it’s localized, is affecting the whole house or perhaps even your neighborhood. Take a walk around your home and check other faucets. This will determine whether the problem is just in the kitchen or the entire residence.

However, remember that water pressure can fluctuate during peak hours when people are home. This could, for example, be during early mornings and evenings on weekdays.

If you discover that all your faucets are lacking pressure, ask one or two neighbors. If they’re experiencing similar issues, it’s probably coming from the municipal supply. There’s not much to do in such a case other than invest some money in a booster.

But, if you’ve determined the issue only affects your kitchen, some things are worth checking before getting too technical.

Check the Valves

Inspect the valves sitting under the sink. There should be one for hot and one for cold. Verify that both are fully open.

These control how much water enters the supply lines. If they’re partially closed, it could impair the pressure.

Inspect the Supply Lines

Kinked supply lines can also partially block the flow, reducing the pressure. Duck under the sink again and ensure both are straight.

Fixing Low Pressure in a Kitchen Faucet

We’re going to walk you through these areas so you can get your low pressure in the kitchen faucet fixed:

  • Check the aerator.
  • Clean/replace the cartridge.
  • Fix line blockages.

How to Check the Aerator

If you’ve concluded that a clogged aerator is a culprit, then you’re in luck. This is usually very easy to fix.

What You Need

  • Pliers.
  • Plastic tape.
  • Bowl or dish.
  • Vinegar.
  • Warm water.
  • Old toothbrush.
  • Plastic bag.

Step 1: Remove the Aerator

Use your hand to unscrew the aerator from the tip of the faucet. Turn it counter-clockwise to loosen.

If it doesn’t budge, wrap some tape around the gripping surface. This will prevent accidental scratches. Then, use the pliers to turn the aerator.

Check The Pressure

After removing the aerator, turn on the water. If the pressure has improved, you know it was the aerator. However, if it’s still too low, the issue is probably much deeper than the tip.

Step 2: Soak It

In a bowl or a dish, mix vinegar with warm water 50/50, for example, 0.5 cup vinegar and 0.5 cup water.

Then, place the aerator in the solution. Leave it to soak for 30 minutes to one hour.

If the aerator refuses to come off, simply take a plastic bag and pour some vinegar into it. Then place it over the faucet nozzle and secure it with some tape. Leave it for 30 minutes to one hour, and it should dissolve most of the sediment.

Step 3: Inspect the Aerator

After a couple of hours, take the aerator out and check if it looks cleaner. You can run it under some water to help. If debris is still holding tight, use an old toothbrush, and scrub it gently.

Rinse it a couple of times, and move to the next step.

Step 4: Replace It

Once the aerator’s clean, screw it back on until it’s snug. Avoid overdoing it as that could cause damage. Now the pressure should be restored.

How to Clean/Replace the Cartridge

If the aerator wasn’t the problem, you might want to check the cartridge. This requires more patience and time.

We recommend that you place the parts down in the order you removed them. Use a towel or rag for this.

What You Need

  • Wrench.
  • Screwdriver.
  • Vinegar.

Step 1: Turn off the Supply Valves

Duck under your sink and turn off the hot and cold supply valves.

Open the tap to let leftover water run through.

Step 2: Detach the Screw Cap

Place a plug into the sink, to ensure nothing falls into the drain.

On the faucet handle, there should be a screw covered by a cap, holding it in place. Use your hand to turn it to remove it. Then, grab the screwdriver, and undo the screw to access the cartridge.

Step 3: Remove the Cartridge Nut

Locate the cartridge nut and remove it using a wrench.

Step 4: Clean the Cartridge

Rinse the cartridge under running water.

If limescale and mineral deposits are covering it, place it in a dish of vinegar. Let it soak for 30 minutes to one hour.

If it appears degraded or even slightly worn out, we recommend that you replace it. Take it with you to the hardware store and get a similar one.

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Step 5: Replace Everything

Once the cartridge is clean, or you get a new one, reverse the steps above to reconnect the cartridge.

Tighten the cartridge nut gradually; avoid overdoing it. Reopen the supply valves and check the pressure. It should be back to normal.

Dealing with a Line Blockage

If neither the cartridge nor the aerator was the cause of trouble, there might be something stuck in the water lines. This calls for flushing, which is very easy to do.

What You Need

  • Bucket.
  • Wrench or basin wrench.

Step 1: Close the Supply Valves

Turn the supply valves to the “Off” position and open a tap to release trapped water.

Step 2: Disconnect the Valves

Use a wrench or basin wrench to detach the supply lines from the faucet.

While still attached to the water lines, gently shape the supply lines downward and place them into a bucket.

Step 3: Turn on the Water

Fully open both supply valves, and let the water run into the bucket for a few seconds.

Step 4: Reconnect Everything

Connect the supply lines to the faucet again, using the wrench. Don’t tighten them too much as this could damage them.

Check the pressure by opening the tap.

Low Pressure, Never Again

When experiencing low pressure in a kitchen faucet, it’s essential to investigate other fixtures. If it only affects your kitchen, it’s generally due to one of three things — a clogged aerator, an impaired cartridge or blocked water lines. Luckily, each one is easy to fix by cleaning the right part.

What’s causing your low water pressure? If you were able to diagnose the issue, please let us know below. Or if you have further questions, we’ll be happy to answer them.

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About the Author

Peter Gray

Peter has been a homeowner for 35+ years and has always done his own repair and improvement tasks. As a retired plumber, Peter now spends his time teaching others how they can fix leaks, replace faucets, and make home improvements on a budget.