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I crafted this guide on fixing low water pressure in kitchen sinks to be actionable and to the point.
Even if you’re not experienced or savvy in this kind of work, it should take no more than five minutes to pinpoint the cause of the pressure drop in your kitchen and decide if it’s something you can fix on your own.
First Things First – What’s Your Scenario?
There are a few questions to tick off and quickly narrow down the potential ways to fix low water pressure, depending on where and how it manifests.
Are you seeing low water pressure in the kitchen sink only?
If the low pressure is localized to the kitchen faucet/sink, there are two common culprits.
It’s most likely either a blocked aerator or a clogged cartridge – these account for about 95% of localized issues.
Both are easy fixes.
Scenario 1: Clogged Aerator
What’s an aerator?
It’s that little part on the very top of your kitchen faucet. It plays two roles – infuses water with air and limits the flow.
It can cause low water pressure in a kitchen faucet if mineral deposits build up on the surface and block the “net.”
The issue is especially common in areas with hard water and high dissolved solids.
It’s pretty easy to determine if this is your culprit, a simple touch-test will tell you if deposits are clogging up the aerator. Even if you’re unsure, clean the aerator for good measure.
It’s simple to do and, even if it wasn’t the primary cause of the pressure drop, you should clean it every once in a while.
To fix low water pressure caused by an aerator, follow these steps:
- Plug the sinkhole – you don’t want any small parts falling in
- Remove the water aerator – you can use an aerator key, an adjustable wrench, or water pump, pliers
- Put it apart and use a fine brush and detergent to clean it. A toothbrush will do just fine.
- If you’re seeing stubborn deposits, use white vinegar or lemon juice to remove scale – they both do as good of a job as most commercial products.
- Once the aerator is off, test if the low water pressure problem is fixed by running the kitchen faucet. If the aerator was indeed the problem, the pressure should be back.
- Put it all back together and your water pressure in your kitchen should be restored
Scenario 2: Broken Cartridge
If it turns out that the pressure is still low after you’ve checked the aerator, the next most likely culprit is the cartridge. It’s not as simple to fix/replace as an aerator, but it’s still pretty straightforward.
These are the steps to fixing low water pressure caused by a defective cartridge:
- Plug the sinkhole
- Turn off the hot and cold water shut off valve
- Let out any remaining water
- Remove the protective cap of the handle and then the handle itself (you’ll need a flathead screwdriver for this)
- Remove both the cartridge nut and the cartridge using a wrench
- If there’s no damage on the cartridge, just clean it off and put it back in place. Alternatively, replace it with a new one.
- Turn the shut-off valve into the “on’ position
If this was the cause of the drop, the low water pressure problem should be now solved.
Water pressure drop is not localized to the kitchen sink
If you have low water pressure in the kitchen sink but nowhere else, you’re probably in luck.
Because the alternative would suggest a bigger problem.
If it’s not localized to the kitchen faucet, make calls or check with your neighbors to determine if it’s only you. The “better” and more common scenario here is an issue with the municipal supply.
Is there a leak in the lines?
Probably the peskiest cause of low water pressure is a leak somewhere in your home.
To determine if you have a broken line, follow these simple steps:
- Shut off all the water appliances
- Read the numbers on the water meter
- Don’t use any water for a few hours and take the reading again
If the numbers are changing, it’s an indicator that you have a leak.
This one is much less common because a good incoming pipe will take decades of use without as much as a hiccup. But I have seen it happen in rural areas and the supply lines coming in from wells.
It’s typically pretty easy to detect because the clog typically comes from dirt. you’ll notice the color change before you notice any change in pressure.
It almost never happens with the municipal water supply.
Other Causes of Low Water Pressure
In a vast majority of cases, low pressure on your kitchen sink will be caused by either the aerator or the cartridge.
Occasionally, the cause can be a leak or a defective shut-off valve.
Try turning the hot and cold water shut-off valve on and off and see if there’s a change in the water pressure. If you’re seeing uneven changes or unexpected pressure drops, there’s a good chance that you have your culprit.
If it’s the shut-off valve causing the low water pressure in kitchen faucets, your best bet is to replace the whole thing instead of trying to “revive” it. Over time, mineral deposits tend to build on the shut-off valve.
Before getting to work, make sure that you have your sizing right. If you’re not experienced and don’t know your valve sizes by heart, just take the unit with you and ask a salesperson to get you the same one.
It’s an obvious piece of advice but I see people getting it wrong every day because they miss something in the process.
Replacing the shut-off valve
To replace it, you’ll need to:
- Close the main water line
- Loosen the nut using a wrench and remove it
- You’ll see a nut that holds the valve in place. That’s the compressing nut – remove that, too.
- Install your new valve and turn the water line on
The pressure in kitchen faucets will be significantly better.
When to call a professional
The answer to this, of course, depends on your skill and experience level.
But, I’d say that any problem that goes beyond the kitchen sink and the valves is a job for a professional. So, unless you know exactly what you’re doing, avoid messing with faulty pipes, pressure regulators, and water supply lines.
Systemic Low-Pressure Problems
Understanding municipal water pressure.
Whatever your scenario is, understanding the basics of water pressure is useful and, well, interesting if you ask me. But then again, I’m a plumber, so take that with a grain of salt.
This is how a typical municipal water system works:
- Water from a natural source is pumped to facilities and moved to high-altitude pressure tanks
- In the tanks, gravity does its job and naturally creates pressure
- The water reaches your home already pressurized. In odd cases, booster stations are placed along the way to maintain the pressure
Ideally, when municipal water reaches your faucet the pressure should be 45-55 PSI (pounds per square inch). In reality, that range is wider (45 to 80).
What is low water pressure?
Anything under 40 PSI is in the range of low pressure.
If it’s a systemic problem
If you’ve eliminated all the potential culprits I mentioned above and still have water pressure problems, you have a systemic problem on your hands.
Best case scenario – you missed a notice about some waterwork being done in your area and the low pressure is a consequence of that.
Worst case scenario – the problem is with the public lines and there’s little you can do about that. Changes in water pressure can happen if new buildings are connected to the supply line or the system (pumps) doesn’t work as it used to.
Whatever the case, you have two courses of action here – try and battle the windmills of the public water companies or you can take matters into your own hands.
I suggest the latter.
A pressure-reducing valve (also known as a regulator) is installed on the waterline to lower the incoming pressure and make it safer for home appliances.
It might sound like it’s the obvious offender because it’s in the name…pressure-reducing, right?
In reality, it’s rarely the case. It’s a fine-tuned system and can only become a problem when it malfunctions, pretty much like any valve.
If your water pressure is low, a clogged aerator is much more likely to be the cause.
Faucets and booster pumps
If the low water pressure problems are mild to moderate, there are faucets that can help. My personal recommendation is the Delta Faucet Essa Pull Down.
However, no faucet can actually change the pressure in your pipes. If the problem is serious and it persists, a more permanent solution is a solid booster pump.
Which booster pump you choose will depend on how much extra pressure you need.
Personally, I’m a fan of Simer pumps. I’ve seen the Simer 3/4 HP do wonders. It can add up to 40 PSI of water pressure, which effectively solves pretty much any pressure problems, let alone those localized to a kitchen faucet.
As your neighbors sign petitions and spend days on hold with the water company, the Simer will allow you to sip on your lemonade and watch them squirm. That was mean, I know…but it is true.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about low pressure in kitchen faucets. I already responded to some of these, but I’ve been getting feedback that many of my readers like the concise concept of a FAQ section.
The two most likely causes of low water pressure that are localized to a kitchen faucet are a clogged aerator or a defective cartridge.
The answer to this will obviously depend on the cause. In most cases, to fix low water pressure in your kitchen sink, you’ll need to clean or replace the aerator, the cartridge, or the cold or hot water shut-off valve.
In my experience, that will fix about 97% of water pressure (out of those localized to a kitchen faucet).
To increase water pressure in your kitchen sink, turn the valve counterclockwise.
That’s the easy answer and only goes if the low water pressure in the kitchen sink is caused by a tight valve. If there is a more substantial problem, you’ll need to locate the source and fix that.
Finally, if the problem is public, I recommend getting a nice booster pump. It will change your life.
If the kitchen faucet runs slow, the most likely cause is some sort of a water pressure problem – like a clogged aerator and cartridges.
Other potential problem points: supply valves, water heater, pressure-reducing valve, municipal water supply lines.
If the problem is hot water pressure on the kitchen faucet, you likely have a problem with one of the following: the valve, the water heater, filter (if you have one), the tempering valve, the aerator on the hot water supply line.
If the water pressure is low throughout the house and not only on the kitchen faucet and you have a centralized system, 9 times out of 10 the problem will be mineral buildup in the water heater.
If the sprayer works fine
Note: If you’re seeing Low water pressure in the kitchen faucet but the sprayer works fine, you probably have a faulty spray diverter.
This one is tricky to fix because you first have to locate it and they come in a range of shapes and sizes. With most brands, it’s a small plastic valve (about the size of a dime) that you can only access after you’ve removed the spout.
Locating the diverter
The diverter lives in the valve’s housing and you’ll need something pointy (like needlenose pliers to replace it).
Alternatively, it can be just under the valve cartridge.
The simplest way to find it is by looking up your faucet brand. The manuals will lead you to the location of the diverter.
Once you’ve found it, clean it with an old toothbrush and leave it in vinegar overnight. Re-install it and enjoy.
If the hot water pressure is still low
If you tick all the boxes we went over above and your pressure problem is still localized on the hot water supply side, you’ll probably need to flush the water heater.
If it keeps happening, check your water quality (scale, hardness, and total dissolved solids), because heat and mineral-rich water are not a great combo. Instead of blaming it all on the heater, consider getting a water softener for the whole house.
The good ones are not cheap but pay for themselves in maintenance savings within 24-36 months, especially in hard-water areas.
Moen kitchen faucet low water pressure
This is a very specific section dedicated to a single brand. I’m including it because I’ve seen questions pop up in my inbox about pressure problems specifically with Moen faucets.
So, I thought I’d address it here.
The most common causes of pressure problems in Moen faucets are clogged aerators and faulty cartridges.
Alfred Hitchcock said, “Television is like the invention of indoor plumbing. It didn’t change people’s habits. It just kept them inside the house.”
I’d say that good water pressure and good cable connection are basic human rights.
I can’t help you with bad cable, but I hope I played some small part in solving your low water pressure problems.
If you’re looking for a premium quality faucet, check out our best overall kitchen faucet picks.