Getting the Drop on Water Pressure

Question: I live in a two-story house that is about 50 years old. It has an old bathroom with original fixtures. I like that fact and have decorated the room in an Early American motif. What I don't like, however, is the water pressure. It takes forever to get enough water in the tub to take a bath, and there's little more than a dribble sometimes at the lavatory. Is there anything I can do to increase the water pressure?

Answer: Low water pressure can be caused by any number of things, and it's doubtful that many do-it-yourselfers can do much about it. Because you say you have original fixtures, I think it's safe to assume you have original water pipes. Therefore, it's likely that lime from the water has built up deposits that narrow the space through which the water flows. In that event, there is virtually nothing that can be done short of replacing the pipes.

Other things you might check: Be sure the water valve under the lavatory is open to allow maximum flow of water. Or, at the time when the water flow is a dribble (you say sometimes), check to see if there is someone using the water in the kitchen downstairs or in a downstairs bath. You might check to see if neighbors have low water pressure also, and, if so, bring it to the attention of the Department of Water and Power. Occasionally a water meter can be defective or a buried pipe in the yard can have a leak. In either of the latter two cases, it's a matter for the Department of Water and Power.

Q: During the recent rains, water got into the small cellar that's under my kitchen, and I don't know how it got there. There's no outside entrance to the cellar, just windows that begin at least four or five inches above ground. What should I do first? Call a plumber? Get a waterproofing expert? Or what?

A: Because you didn't say how much water got in your basement, it's difficult to know how serious your problem is and how much you yourself can do to correct it. I don't know whether to tell you to call in an expert or to buy water wings.

If water has come in through the windows, meaning the caulking is inferior, there should be signs of water going down the cellar walls from the windows. If so, you could probably repair this yourself by recaulking the windows.

If water seeped through the walls, you may be able to correct that by applying a water sealant after the walls dry.

A recent news release from the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) pointed out that home inspectors are a good choice when you are unsure of the cause of a problem. Such firms can be found in telephone Yellow Pages under Building Inspection Service. I have never had occasion to contact one, but you might make some phone calls to see if one of those listed can be of help.

The release also said the society has a consumer brochure--among others--entitled "Wet Basements." It's available by sending $1 with a stamped, self-addressed business-size envelope to ASHI Brochures, Suite 630, 1010 Wisconsin Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20007. Be sure to state the title of the brochure.

Meanwhile, don't fool around with electricity, if your power switch box is in that wet cellar.

Dale Baldwin will answer remodeling questions of general interest on this page. Send your questions to Home Improvement, Real Estate Department, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053. Baldwin cannot answer questions individually. Snapshots of successful do-it-yourself projects may be submitted but cannot be returned.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World