It can be a real problem when you need to get other things done while running the washing machine, but it’s causing your home’s water pressure to drop. This can make things like using the shower or washing the dishes almost impossible, slowing your day down.
If this is happening to you, then don’t worry. You’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll look at why this is happening and how you can restore the water pressure to go about your tasks unimpeded by poor water pressure.
Why is the water pressure dropping when the washing machine is running?
One of the significant challenges of dealing with low water pressure is many potential causes, ranging from valve issues and obstructed water pipes to something as simple as someone leaving another faucet in the house running.
Not only does this make using the water in your home a problem, but it’ll also make the wash cycles take significantly longer as the washing machine can’t access enough water.
Let’s go through the potential causes one by one to help you better understand what is causing the problem.
Water is being run by someone else in the house.
One of the most common causes of dropping water pressure is some other source of water being left on in the house. This could be anything from a faucet to the shower head, or most commonly, because someone’s left a hose running in the garden.
Your home only has a finite amount of water pressure available, and a washing machine demands a significant portion. So the more sources that are running – the lower the water pressure and the longer your wash cycle will take.
So checking in on every water outlet and faucet you have in your home and ensuring they are not lowering the water pressure should speed up the washing cycle a lot.
Blocked filter in the washing machine
Washing machines have an inlet valve which the water needs to pass through before it can get into the machine itself. This is there to catch debris or small items before they can get into the machine and cause damage.
Over time, as things become lodged in it, the inlet valve may become blocked to the point where it doesn’t allow an adequate flow of water to enter the machine. Removing this blockage should free up the flow of water, thus restoring the water pressure.
Blocked water lines
Similarly, water has to pass through a supply hose, or water line, to reach the washing machine.
Many things can contribute to this hose becoming blocked over time, preventing the amount of water that’s able to make it to the machine, which can range from built-up mineral deposits if you live in a hard water area, or dirt that’s made its way in from your homes water pipes.
Fortunately, these are relatively inexpensive components and easy to swap out.
Various water-conserving devices
You can install a range of devices in your home to help limit the amount of water being used. Good examples are cheap faucet aerators which restrict faucet water flow, or toilet banks which lower the amount of water that can collect in the tank, resulting in less water being used when flushing.
These devices, when combined with the running of the washing machine, can result in a significant drop in water pressure to the point where it seems unusable. There’s nothing wrong with the system. It’s just the two compounding effects.
Water system leaks
Leaks will also lower the water pressure and should be addressed as soon as possible to prevent any damage to your drywall or mold from forming. These leaks can be from places such as a cracked pipe or something simple like a hose that hasn’t been correctly connected.
As leaks contribute to water pressure reduction in the home, they may compound with the washing machine, making the low water pressure problem much bigger. Once the leak is fixed, you may find that the water pressure returns to normal.
The main valve is not completely closed.
On the flip side, even when there is no active leak in the home, if the main valve is partially closed by accident, it will also restrict the overall flow of water that’s making its way into the house.
Faulty pressure regulation
Your home will have a pressure regulator, which, as the name suggests, is there to ensure your water pressure is kept to a safe level and doesn’t risk damaging your plumbing system.
If this regulator becomes damaged or broken, it may result in either high or heavily reduced water pressure.
Blocked water filter
Not to be confused with the washing machines filter, sometimes our homes have ‘whole house’ water filters too, which are designed to lower the amount of mineral content and make the water better for consumption. Over time these can also clog up, which results in less water being able to make its way into the home.
How to fix low water pressure when the washing machine is running
As you can see, there are quite a few potential causes of this problem, but fortunately, many of them are also easy, simple fixes you can do yourself to help narrow things down.
Let’s look at how you can fix these problems and restore your water pressure to normal.
1. Check for running water
The first thing to do is perform a sweep of the house, checking faucets, plus the shower head and hoses to ensure nothing has been left on.
Every additional running water source will contribute to water pressure reduction, so ensuring you have as few sources running at any given time will help your home’s water pressure.
2. Clean/replace the washing machine filter
A blocked-up washing machine filter is a huge cause of low pressure. So removing it and giving it a good clean can help restore the water flow.
The location of the filter can differ depending on your washing machine type/brand. But generally, it’s on the front of the machine underneath a filter cover, which you can pull away from the machine.
Remove the filter and wipe it down with a paper towel to remove the layer of lint and detergent buildup.
Then remove the lint screen and let it sit in a bowl of hot water for about 10 minutes. The hot water will help break any remaining residue down and remove mold/mildew buildup.
It’s recommended to repeat this process about four times a year to help prolong the longevity of both the filter and the machine and help keep your water pressure good.
3. Replace blocked water lines
As the water line that comes to the washing machine are relatively inexpensive (and very troublesome to de-clog by yourself), we recommend simply replacing them with new ones if they have become blocked.
4. Check for water conservation devices
Go through all your faucets and toilets to check for water conservation devices like aerators, toilet bricks, or a pressure-reducing valve. These may need to be removed, or in the case of aerators, they may be blocked with debris and require unblocking.
5. Water system leaks
These are much more challenging to identify and fix by yourself. If you have a suspicion of a leak in your home, we recommend calling a professional as soon as possible to prevent any damage from being caused to your home.
However, sometimes there are leakages in your city’s water mains outside your property. In this situation, you may need to contact the city authorities as this is their responsibility to fix.
6. Check the main valve
If the main valve is not adequately open and restricts water flow simply open it fully to help restore water pressure to the home.
7. Replace the water pressure regulator
The water pressure regulator is essential in managing your home’s water pressure. If this is broken or faulty, you should call a professional to have them come and replace it as soon as possible, or the high water pressure may damage your plumbing system.