Water flow rates are something that many homeowners don’t consider, whether it’s when they’re moving in or making changes to their water system. It shouldn’t be this way — your flow rate can make or break how well your home works for your family. The more people you have, the higher it should be for you to live comfortably together.
What is the average household water flow rate?
In this article, we’ll answer that question and others, such as what flow rate you should aim for in your household and what you can do to boost your flow rate when it’s too low.
What Is the Average Household Water Flow Rate?
The typical residential water flow rate for small households is between 6-12 gallons per minute (GPM). This means that most households consume about 100-120 gallons of water each day. This number can vary depending on where you are in the world, the newness of your appliances and features, and how many people live in your household.
Because the EPA mandates that water-based appliances don’t exceed a certain GPM, this keeps many households below a certain threshold. However, if you live in a house with older devices and fixtures, you may see a higher average GPM than similar new homes.
Sometimes, the average GPM per household will be larger based on the size of the homes alone. For example, a house with six bathrooms will have six toilets to keep running, meaning it would use slightly more water than a home with just two bathrooms. The same goes for homes with multiple refrigerators, water softeners, or water heaters.
The number of people that live in your home is the main determining factor, though. If you’re wondering “How many gallons per minute do I need for my household?” the answer depends on several calculations.
Each person uses an average of about 80-100 gallons per day. Multiplying this number for each person in the household will give you a rough idea of how much water you use in a given day, but it won’t be exact. In an actual household, everyone may not shower every day, for example.
How Many Gallons Per Minute Do i Need for My Home?
Calculating your GPM instead of your gallons per day is a much more efficient way to determine your flow needs. Start by considering how many appliances you’ll have running at the same time on most days. Will you ever run the dishwasher at the same time as the shower? What about your clothes washer or your sink? Will multiple people be showering at the same time?
If all of your faucets and appliances were running simultaneously, how much would your GPM be? Unless you plan to add extra kitchens, bathrooms, or laundry rooms to your home in the future, your home will never need to exceed that final GPM. The average GPM usages of some common fixtures and appliances are:
- Toilet: about 2.2-5 GPM
- Bathtub: 4-8 GPM
- Shower: 2.5-5 GPM
- Dishwasher: 2-3 GPM
- Faucet: 2.5-3 GPM
- Washing machine: 4-5 GPM
Ensuring Maximum Flow Rate
You can do many things to increase the flow rate of water in your home, though not all of them may be applicable (or even affordable). For residential homes, the limiting factor on water flow is rarely the pressure as it enters your home; more often, the pipes and filters in your home are what limit your GPM.
If you have a whole-house filter that screens out impurities like iron and sediment, for example, the GPM that your house can support may be a bit lower. Fortunately, this is an easy problem to fix. All you need to do is replace the filter with one that can support a more substantial water flow.
Replacing your home’s pipes, on the other hand, can be much more involved and expensive. For example, if your house is older and connects to city water, the water line from the road to your home may be too small. You would have to dig it up and replace it to get a more reliable water flow, and this can get expensive!
Replacing the plumbing inside of your home is a bit easier, but still much more expensive than replacing a filter on a filtration unit. You may find that replacing your fixtures and appliances with more efficient versions is enough to reduce your flow rate, and this can be much less expensive. Many companies sell “low-flow” appliances and fixtures designed to help mitigate low flow rates.
Dealing With Flow Restrictions
Let’s imagine that you have one dishwasher, two showers, two toilets, a washing machine, and four faucets in your home. Assuming all of them use the minimum GPM listed above, this would equal roughly 25 gallons per minute.
However, your water pressure doesn’t need to support 25 GPM; there will be very few situations when you’ll need to run all these appliances at the same time. As long as your house can support about 12 GPM at maximum, everything should run smoothly for you.
You might be thinking, though, what if I have four or five people living in my household? They could end up using several showers, faucets, toilets, and other appliances at the same time. While this is true, our other appliances, such as water heaters and water softeners, tend to limit how much water we can use all at one time.
At some point in your life, you’ve probably been ready to hop in the shower, but then you noticed that the dishwasher was running, clothes were in the washer, or a family member was in a different shower already, so you decided to wait. Of course, if your home had a large or tankless water heater, you may not have had this issue!
This is just one of many common limitations that can change how people use their water. Lack of hot water is one of them. Preferring bottled water is another example; if you don’t like the taste of the water from your faucet, it can reduce your usage in the long run.
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