Understanding the Difference Between Water Pressure VS Water Flow

Knowing the difference between “water flow” and “water pressure” is a great step in educating yourself about your home’s plumbing. While the two terms sound similar, and both have to do with your pipes and how they work, they are two unique concepts that work together to power your plumbing system. Although you may not need to know what these terms mean on a day-to-day basis, understanding the difference between the two will help homeowners and property managers troubleshoot their own plumbing issues and more accurately describe what’s wrong with their pipes to plumbing professionals.

Water Pressure

Representing the force at which water enters your home from the water main, water pressure is primarily measured in PSI (pounds per square inch). Speaking in layman’s terms, it is the actual force that is being exerted on the water in your system to push the liquid through your pipes and around your home. For example, low water pressure is a commonly cited plumbing issue and is the result of having an insubstantial amount of pressure being placed on the water in your home.

Water Flow

On the other hand, water flow is the actual amount of water going through your pipes at any point. Your home or building’s normal water flow is often determined by the width of your pipes and the amount of pressure—see above—pushing the water around. Simply put, smaller pipes will have less water flow than larger pipes, as more liquid is able to travel through the system at any given time. Water pressure does have a direct cause-and-effect when it comes to water flow, however, as even a small pipe will see increased water flow if there is substantial water pressure moving the system. In a similar vein of thought, having more open taps in your home will cause your water pressure to drop in your system, thus lowering your water flow—and vice versa.

The Difference Between Water Pressure and Water Flow, And Why it Matters

To put it simply, the difference between water flow and water pressure is that water flow can be defined as the amount of water coming out of your pipes, while water pressure is how hard the water is flowing through your pipes. And common plumbing issues, such as having sediment in your pipes, can cause both your water flow and your water pressure to drop—not necessarily one or the other as both are affected by the friction in your pipes caused by a sediment build-up.

If you want to alter your water flow, you can easily do so by opening or closing taps in your home or building to either increase or decrease flow. However, changing your water pressure will require finding your home’s water regulator—which is typically located at the point where your main municipal water line enters your home. And while your water pressure may be affected by the something happening inside of your system, it could also be a problem on a municipal level. The easiest way to determine if this is the case is simply by asking your neighbors or someone you live near if they are having low water pressure issues.

When it comes to troubleshooting or changing how the water in your home moves throughout your system, knowing the difference between water flow and water pressure is key. They are both altered using different methods and can have issues unique to themselves. It’s also important to keep these terms in mind when speaking to a plumbing professional, just to avoid any initial confusion before they’re able to enter your home and check out the issue for themselves.

535 Plumbing – Your Water Pressure Experts

If you live on Oahu and are in need of a licensed plumber, choose 535 Plumbing for the job! Our team of professional Oahu plumbers are highly skilled and our excellent customer support representatives will work with you to schedule your appointments at a time you most convenient. Learn more and schedule an appointment by calling (808) 300-0535, or Visit Our Contact Us Page. Mahalo!