Managing water pressure

We have to manage the strength of water flow that comes through your taps so that there’s enough for your everyday needs, but not so much that it causes bursts and leaks.

What is water pressure?

It’s the force of water that gets pushed through pipework and results in how strong the flow is that comes through your tap.


Why do we manage your water pressure?

We monitor for water pressure all the time because it’s a great way for us to prevent leaks, save our precious water, ensure you have a constant supply and reduce your bills at the same time.


I want to increase my water pressure

Sometimes, you simply don’t have a strong enough flow of water coming through your taps. It might take longer to fill a kettle or a toilet cistern. There’s a small chance it could be because of changes we’ve made to the water pressure, or it could be something that’s specific to your property, such as your stop tap that’s not fully open.

Watch our short film on how to increase your water pressure.


Why does my water pressure change?

That’s down to a few different factors. It can be as simple as how much other householders are using at the same time as you. So, water pressure is high at night (a stronger flow through your taps) when few people are using it and lower during certain times of the day when lots of people are using it.


Why is my water pressure different to other people’s?

This is also down to a few factors. It can depend on the local geography, whereabouts your home is in relation to our service reservoir or water tower, and how much higher (in terms of ground level) either of these are in relation to your home. Did you know, for instance, that homes at the top of a hill will receive water at a lower pressure than those at the bottom?


How managing pressure fits into our bigger plans to save our precious water

If you’re interested in knowing more about the way we manage water pressure and why, have a read of our Water Resources Management Plan. It’s all about how we’re preserving water for the future, improving water quality and protecting the environment.

How we manage water pressure

The pressure within our pipes varies across the day and we use control devices installed on our pipes to stabilise pressures.

This normally involves lowering pressures at night, when demand is low and pressures are generally at their highest.

However, it can involve increasing pressures during times when demand is high and pressures are normally at their lowest.

Pressure is continually monitored to ensure that suitable pressures are maintained.

What this means for customers in areas where pressure is managed

If you are in a part of our supply network where we are introducing pressure management for the first time you may notice a change in the pressure you receive.

This should not mean that you will receive less water, although you may need to turn your taps on further or it will take a little longer to fill a bath or washing machine.

In the unlikely event that our management of water pressure stops you from receiving a consistent water supply, we will investigate, increasing pressure when applicable, and work with you to resolve any problems identified.

However, the majority of customers in areas where we are managing water pressure will not be significantly affected and it is likely that they may not even notice the change in water pressure.

Formal standards for water pressure

Pressures across our supply network are managed in accordance with our Guaranteed Standards Scheme (GSS) which emphasises our commitment to our domestic customers, detailing the minimum standards of service you can expect.

Maximise the pressure that you receive

If you're experiencing a problem with your water pressure you should check that there is not a problem with the plumbing in your home. Simple checks are:

  • That your internal stopcock is fully open
  • That any other taps that control flow to your hot water system or other devices are turned on
  • If you have a thermostatic shower, whether the thermostat requires adjustment. 
If you're unable to undertake such checks or if you continue to experience problems with your water pressure, please call us on 0330 303 0368 (calls charged at local rate).

Airlock advice or spluttering taps

Spluttering taps, irregular water flow and vibrating pipes may indicate that you have air in your water lines.

Air usually gets trapped at high points in your water supply system, and to force this out, you have to temporarily increase the force of the water flowing through the pipes. The high volume of water created by turning on all of your taps causes a rush of water through your pipes that carries the air bubbles out of your water supply.

How to clear an airlock:

  1. Check the main water supply valve to ensure that the water in your house is turned on.
  2. Move through your house and turn on every hot and cold water tap, beginning with the tap closest to the main water supply valve. Work your way to the furthest tap.
  3. Flush all toilets and run the water in all appliances or fixtures that use a water connection. For example, fill a cup with water from the refrigerator dispenser and run the dishwasher and washing machine through a rinse cycle.
  4. Let the water flow for about 10 to 15 minutes or until it begins to flow normally at every tap, without any spluttering or banging.
  5. Go back to the last tap you opened, farthest away from the main water valve, and turn off the water. At each toilet, turn off the tap that is closest to the main valve first, then flush the toilet. Wait about two minutes before closing the next taps.
  6. Continue turning off taps. Work your way back to the first taps you opened until you’ve turned the water off at all taps and fixtures. This should eliminate the air pockets.
  7. Contact a plumber to inspect your pipes if clearing the air from the lines doesn’t stop the problem. You may be dealing with water hammer or improperly sized pipes.

Loud thumps or bumps, followed by no pipe noises, are usually a sign of water hammer. Prolonged noises and vibrating are usually caused by air in the pipes. If noise or sputtering occurs when you close a water valve, or an appliance such as a dishwasher or washing machine switches cycles, it is more likely to be water hammer than air in the pipes.

No tap water?

If there is little or no water running from your tap then there may have been a burst water main in your area. Turn off the taps and contact us on 0330 303 0368 and a customer services adviser will give you more information.

If we are carrying out work on our network which would interrupt your water supply for more than four hours, we will let you know at least 48 hours in advance, usually by letter or card.

Customers with additional needs, such as kidney patients on home dialysis, can join our confidential register for priority supplies in the event of an interruption to water supplies.