The Difference Between Water Pressure & Water Flow

The Difference Between Water Pressure & Water Flow

Water pressure and water flow: these are the two things that power your plumbing system. But what is the difference between water pressure and water flow exactly? Sure, you may have an understanding of how each process works in your pipes, but do you fully know their unique importance, and how they work together to affect your plumbing? Keep reading for everything you need to learn about water pressure and flow, courtesy of our skilled plumbers at Smith’s Plumbing Services.

Water Pressure vs. Water Flow

Pressure is defined in the general sense as “continuous physical force exerted on or against an object by something in contact with it.” Water pressure specifically is the force exerted on your water to push it through your pipes and larger plumbing system. Water pressure is modulated through attitude—i.e. if you live in a city with a water tower, the higher that water tower is, the greater amount of pressure you will find in your water supply. Water pressure is also affected by gravity. Because water is denser in the air, water pressure can change through even slight adjustments in the position and height of your plumbing equipment.

Flow, meanwhile, is defined as “the action or fact of moving along in a steady, continuous stream.” When it comes to plumbing, your water flow is the amount of water passing through your pipes at any given time. The flow of water in your plumbing system is determined largely by the width of your pipes and the amount of pressure surging through them. Pipes with a small width, for instance, supply water at a lower flow rate than pipes with a wider width. Simultaneously, higher water pressure will disperse water at a greater flow rate. The more taps and plumbing equipment you have in use at the same time, the harder it will be for your system to disperse pressure evenly, meaning that the water you receive will come out at a lower flow rate.

Pressure, Flow & Your Plumbing System

When you get right down to it, the easiest way to describe the difference between water flow and water pressure is that water flow is how much water comes out of your pipes while water pressure is how hard it comes out of your pipes. Both pressure and flow can be affected by friction, so if, as an example, the inside of your pipes or other plumbing equipment is covered in sediment, your water will come up against more friction and therefore your water pressure and flow will be lower. Again, pipes with a greater width usually allow for greater water flow. However, if there is something affecting your water pressure, the size and texture of the pipe won’t matter, and your flow will still suffer.

While changing the rate of water flow is usually just a matter of adjusting your faucet/pipe openings, to control your water pressure, you will need to find your home’s water pressure regulator (usually this component is located at the point your main water line enters your house.) Keep in mind though, where you live also affects water pressure. That means if you and your neighbors are all experiencing poor water pressure, there’s a good chance the issue is related to a problem in your municipal water supply.

Common problems that affect water flow and pressure include:

  • Broken pressure regulators
  • Closed shut-off valves
  • Clogs
  • Leaks
  • Sediment build-up

To help keep your water pressure flow at the high rate you deserve, call Smith’s Plumbing Services at (901) 290-1110 or send us a message online. We are available 24/7 to provide a wide range of plumbing repairs and replacements

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