Managing water pressure

Why your water pressure changes and what to do if you’ve noticed a change in pressure






What is water pressure?

Water pressure is a measure of the force that pushes water through our pipes and into your property, measured in metres. Flow is a measure of how quickly we supply water to you, and this is usually measured in litres per minute. The flow and pressure we supply are linked to each other, and have a dynamic relationship.


Our network is designed to ensure every home has a plentiful supply of water and that we meet or exceed the minimum standards for both pressure and flow.


When pressure is low, the flow of water is less powerful and therefore it can take longer to fill a glass of water or run a bath.  











Why has my water pressure changed?


Sometimes you might notice that your water pressure has changed. Pressure can depend on several factors:










Service reservoir height
The distance that your home is below the service reservoir or water tower providing your supply


Water use
How much water other customers are using at the same time 


Pump proximity

How close you live to one of our pumping stations

Pressure management
How we actively regulate network pressures using pump controls or Pressure Regulating Valves










Does Bristol Water control my water pressure? 


We’re always keeping an eye on water pressure because it helps us to save water and keep the cost of bills down for our customers. We call this pressure management and it’s how we maintain and regulate water pressures within our distribution network.


Lower pressure means less water use, which will save you money and put less strain on the environment. Monitoring pressure ensures that everyone has a constant supply and keeps the pressure in the pipes at a suitable level that won’t lead to bursts and leaks.  


As anyone who has ever marched up Park Street will attest, Bristol is far from flat. Our varied landscape means that pressures vary as our network of pipes traverse the Mendip Hills, the Cotswold Escarpment and every valley in between.


A map illustrating the topography of Bristol and the surrounding areas.

A map illustrating the topography of Bristol and the surrounding areas.












The benefits of water pressure management











image of a spanner and water drop
image of a burst water pipe
image of planet earth
image of a water droplet
Reduces leaks 
Reduces burst frequency
Uses less water from rivers & lakes
Reduces water usage
image of water droplet with a line running through it
image of a pile of coins
image a glass of water with a discolouration
Less supply interruptions 
Improved water quality 










What to do if you’ve noticed a change in water pressure

Check for work in your area

Temporary work in your area can lead to reduced water pressure for a short amount of time. See work happening in your area.


Check with your neighbours

Are they also experiencing a change in water pressure? If not, then it could be a problem specific to the pipe to your property, private plumbing or a specific appliance.

Check your internal stop tap - is it fully open?

One of the first things to check is the condition of your internal stop tap and how well it is working. Screw-down pattern taps are designed to be fully open or fully closed, do not leave them mid-position or throttled. 


Do not try regulating high-water pressure by partially closing your stop, it does not work as the valve does not adjust to different flow rates.


Different areas have varying water pressure. If you have high water pressure, try regulating that pressure by closing your stop tap ever so slightly. Learn how to find and operate your stop tap.

Check your service valves - are they open?

Service valves allow you to stop the flow of water into a specific appliance instead of shutting off the water supply to the property completely. They should be left in a fully open position, as (like stop taps) they are not designed to be throttled.


Check your internal plumbing for an airlock

Airlocks can cause problems throughout the home with water supply. Check for an airlock by testing your stop tap. To do this, run the cold kitchen tap, turn the internal stop tap off until the water stops, then back on again.


Make sure your plumbing is up to scratch 

Low pressure to appliances within the home can sometimes be caused or accentuated by poor plumbing facilities. Small bore piping that takes long routes with excessive bends and fittings all add restrictions to the flow of water.


The water pressure is used up as it forces water around all the bends and restrictions to the point of use, this is known as head loss. Head loss can be reduced by increasing the diameter of pipework.

Do your taps or shower have a build-up of limescale?

A build-up of limescale can restrict your pipes’ diameter and reduce the flow of water. Limescale can be especially noticeable on shower heads and taps with aerators. 


 Having a limescale build-up doesn’t mean that you haven’t been keeping your taps and shower clean, we just happen to have lots of minerals in our water as we live in a hard water area. 


If your water pressure is lower due to a limescale build-up, there are a number of solutions. You can replace tap aerators, or remove the limescale with specialist limescale removing products, and many people use lemon juice or vinegar.  











What can I do to improve the water flow in my house?


Changes in water pressure won’t mean that you have less water, it might just take you a bit longer to fill up your kettle. Although a drop in water pressure isn't usually anything to worry about, there are some steps you can take to stop your water pressure from dropping too low. 


image of a leaf
Use a water butt instead of a garden hose

If you’re a keen gardener, why not make use of a water butt rather than a hose? Unlike a hose, a water butt will provide you with a bountiful supply of free water that won't impact the pressure of other appliances - and it will save you money, especially if you have a water meter.

image of a washing machine

Make the most of your washing machine

When it comes to putting a load on, make sure you're filling your washing machine to the brim. Washing machines operate at maximum efficiency when the drum is full, so don't be shy, chuck that extra pair of socks in.  


image of a percentage saving sign

Use our FREE water saving products

Did you know that we offer a whole host of free water saving products? These products help you to make small changes to your daily routine, such as knocking a few minutes off of you morning shower or turning the tap off when you brush your teeth. This can help to free up water for other household appliances and save your money on your water bill. 












When to call us


The water pressure feeding your home can change, especially in the warmer weather when the demand is higher for water. Please get in touch if you have no water or are experiencing very low pressure. Please check for known problems on our network first on our incident page.


If you have a less urgent enquiry about the water pressure to your home, you can contact us through any of our channels.

For emergencies call 0345 702 3797












Customer promise


At Bristol Water, we are driven to deliver the best possible service to our customers. Our promise sets out the minimum standards of service you can expect for your water supply, billing arrangements, water quality and new connection enquiries.


When it comes to water pressure, we will provide you with a good flow at your tap by maintaining a minimum pressure of 1.0 bar at the point where our responsibility ends.


If pressure falls below this on two occasions, each lasting more than one hour within a 28 day period we will pay you £25. Get in touch with us to make a claim for this. 


We have service standards which are agreed with Ofwat that require a minimum supply pressure of 7 metres head (approximately 0.7 bar), measured at the point where our communication pipe joins your supply pipe.


Internally we try to improve on this and provide at least 15 metres head (approximately 14 psi or 1.0 bar) at the end of our communication pipes, although this is not guaranteed.


*Customer bills will only be affected if you are on a water meter. Sign up for a water meter online.











Need to chat? Want to stay up to date? Follow us on Facebook & Twitter or take a look at our Service Status page for the latest information.