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Question DetailsAsked on 9/6/2013

What causes low water flow?

Water flow was fine at midnight. Woke up at 5 am and the flow was just a trickle in the bathroom.

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5 Answers


I you referring to how fast the water drains or how much or fast it comes from the faucet? Is the problem at all faucets or just one? For sink faucets remove the aerator and check it for debris. If there was a pipe break in your area trash is often washed down the lines. It then collects in the aerators at the end of the faucets. This happens with older homes with cast iron pipes as well. Rust will fall off the inside of the pipes and run with the water until it collects somewhere. If the problem is all fixtures in only one bathroom you may need to call a plumber to backflush the lines. If the problem is at every fixture throughout the house you likely have a restricted service for some reason. Call the water company to check if they lowered the pressure temporarily to complete a repair.

Todd Shell

Todd's Home Services

San Antonio, TX

Answered 6 years ago by Todd's Home Services


Supplemental to Todd's comments on possible causes - remember if ou are on a duplex or condo or such, these problems in another unit coudl cause low flow in yours:

If entire household has low flow on both hot and cold faucets, check these in order:

1) check for a mass leak in your water supply - hold your ear on a faucet or pipe and if you hear running or gushing water, find the source - look for pooling of water outside or in basement/crawlspace, holed water heater or furnace, broken toilet tank, broken washer or dishwasher valve or line, water discharging from overpressure/ overtemp relief valves on water heater or furnace, water softener, pressure regulator, and such.

2) if you have a neighbor at home, see if their water is just a trickle too - if so, then public water supply system problem

3) if you are on a well or booster pump system, check it sounds like it is running OK and try the drain valve at the well head or pumphouse to see if there is pressure there (or check pressure gage if you have one) - could be a pump failure, dry well, plugged inlet, blockage or valve failure at the pressure tank, etc.

4) if you are on a water supply tank system, check tank is not nearly dry, and check drain valve to see if maybe the tank outflow pipe got blocked

4) check for an outside faucet broken or turned full on (maybe vandals opened all your outside faucets ?), or a broken pipe on sprinkler system or pool or hot tub

5) if you have an outside shutoff valve (usually right at the house wall where pipe comes in or in the meter box), check it was not turned off by a prankster

6) start checking from as close to your incoming water line comes into the house as possible, turning on faucets to see if the failure is indeed for entire house, or perhaps only a branch of the plumbing

7) if none of these, then will take a plumber to track it down - could be a backflow preventer or pressure regulator failed and snapped and stuck closed - some can fail that way.

If only hot water flow is low but cold is normal, then is likely a flow tube in the water heater got plugged, or is one of the old plastic inflow tube ones where the plastic tubes break with age and can float up and plug the outlet pipe.

If only at one faucet and all others are normal:

1) remove and clean aerator as Todd said, and run water full force before replacing to flush out any stuck material - if does not come out full flow or has a split stream, stick something up into faucet to dislodge possible hunk of rust or iron buildup or whatever it is

2) with faucet fullon, close and reopen faucet shutoff valve under the sink - usually they have a much smaller opening than the water pipe, and can trap debris coming through the pipe. Blockage here would make for low flow only on either hot or cold - not both

3) could be a faucet valve seal moved - this happened in one of our Delta washerless faucets once - there is a small rubber cup open at both ends that seals to the moving flow control ball on one end and the faucet housing on the other and acts as a moving gasket - it got hooked on a piece of junk in the system and pulled out of its hole when the faucet handle was moved, and twisted in its hole so it almost totally blocked the flow. Again, this would normally cause only hot or cold low flow, not both, but if it moved into the outflow hole in the ball, then would block both hot and cold.

If the above locted a problem you cannot fix, or failed to find a cause and you water company says you should have water or your neighbors are fine, then Search the List (inn green banner bar) for a local plumber with good ratings and reviews.

Good luck

Answered 6 years ago by LCD


Call a plumber immediately! In my house, the cause of low water flow was a broken water main. I ended up paying $3k to fix the line from my house to the street, and I had to pay the city $3k in water bills for all the water that leaked on the way. If the leak had been from a pipe from the sidewalk to the city's pipes it would've been their bill, but the leak was between my house and sidewalk.

Answered 6 years ago by Guest_96128625


My bad - I totally spaced on the water leak cost issue - that comes from about 40 years of paying flat monthly rate with no consumption charges.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD


Thank you all for your thoughtful responses. As it turned out, there was a 10-inch water main break about a half-mile from my house, and my entire neighborhood was affected. The amount of water coming out of the faucets returned to normal by 10 a.m. Oddly, the utility never posted an alert or otherwise warned the neighborhood of this event. I finally got hold of a utility customer service rep who told me what was going on.

Answered 6 years ago by nothandylady

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