Does Low Water Pressure Affect Front-Loading Washers?
There's a simple reason why your new washing machine isn't coping with your home's low water pressure. New machines are run with software and manufacturer's built-in safety features that may not always work with low water pressure.
As technology continues to streamline domestic chores, we expect every appliance we buy to be superior to the last. While this is true in many cases, some front-loading washer owners are discovering their new machines are not up to the job when faced with low water pressure.
Old Versus New Technology
Simple program timers control older washing machines. During the “fill” part of the cycle, the timer’s motor switches off until the washer fills to the water level chosen. When the water reaches the correct point, the motor switches back on for the rest of the cycle. Because older machines fill in this gradual manner, low water pressure does not affect the washer.
Like computers, software controls modern washing machines. Overall, these technological advancements make them more efficient and safer than older washing machines. They also offer a host of useful features not available on older washers. However, without high enough water pressure, modern machines might not allow enough time to fill. Instead of switching off during the fill part of the cycle, the motor keeps running and the clock keeps ticking. The software is constantly checking the water level and if your machine has not reached that point within a certain time limit, the program times out. This triggers an error, which aborts the program.
Knowing this flaw, why don’t manufacturers just stick with the old system? It comes down to safety measures. A set time means your machine will not be at risk of overheating or flooding.
Troubleshooting Low Water Pressure
There are a few simple measures you can take to troubleshoot low water pressure. First, try running a cycle during a quiet moment in your home when no one is using other water sources like the shower, garden hose or kitchen sink to see if the pressure stays low.
Next, look at the faucet supplying your machine. Make sure it is not faulty and that it’s completely turned on. Disconnect the hose from the faucet and fill a bucket of water to see whether the water pressure is lower than it is elsewhere in the house. Next, follow the hose from the faucet connection to the machine to check for any kinks. Look at the red and blue faucets attached to your machine to see if their levers are seized up inside. If so, carefully remove them to see if they are cracked or filled with sludge.
The next step is to call your water company to check whether there are any problems on their end. Your water supplier must maintain a minimum water pressure of 0.7 bars of pressure, although most water companies set their own target to around one bar which is enough force to raise water by 32 feet. However, your supply company is only responsible for water pressure up to your property boundary.
Time for a Boost?
If you have made your way through this checklist and you are still scratching your head, it might be time to look at a water-pressure booster system.
There are several types of water boosters. For a washer, you need a pressure-activated pump, not a flow-operated pump which is used specifically for showers. These pumps pressurize your entire system, elevating the pressure to around two to five bars depending on the pump. Attach the booster to your water meter and you can adjust the pressure with a dial. A tank holds a reserve of water, so it does not need to switch on each time someone runs a faucet.
You can buy these booster systems online or at home centers but take care if you are thinking of installing it yourself as it can be difficult. Consider hiring a plumber or registered handyperson to complete the job.
While advancements in washing machine technology have unquestionably improved the way we live, if your water pressure is low you might run into problems. If troubleshooting does not fix the problem, it might be time to consider boosting your system.