Water Flow Calculation: What is the Average Household Flow Rate? (2023)

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.

Water Flow Calculation: What is the Average Household Flow Rate? (1)

Water Flow Rate Calculation

You can calculate your household water flow rate in 3 ways shown below. While the options involve some math, one is simpler and can be a great way to calculate your water flow rate.

Consider each option to determine which is best for you.

How to Calculate the Flow Rate of Water Using Flow Rate Formula

You can use the following formula to calculate your water flow rate.

Q​ = ​A​ × ​v​

“A” stands for the area of a point in the water flow’s path, and “v” refers to the water’s velocity at that point. It will be easier to track water through a transparent point or an orifice since you can use a colored dye to track the water.

Then, you can determine the area the water takes up as it passes through a point, whether it’s an orifice or not. The dye can help you track the velocity, and you can measure the circumference of the tube to track the area.

Once you get the area and velocity numbers, you can multiply them to get “Q” or the water flow rate.

Use an Orifice

You can calculate the water flow rate through an orifice, such as a drip emitter or a spigot. To do this, you’ll need a container to hold the water, and you should know how big the container is. You will also need a stopwatch to track the time it takes for the container to fill up.

If you use a drip emitter, you will need a smaller container because it can take longer to fill up. However, you can use a larger container if you can wait longer. You can also choose to measure the water flow in minutes or hours.

When you’re ready, set your container under the orifice and start the water and stopwatch simultaneously. Wait until the container fills completely and stop the time on your stopwatch. If your container is five gallons or some other multiple, you will need to divide it by the number of gallons or quarts.

For example, if it takes an hour to fill a five-gallon container, the water flow rate is five gallons per hour. If it takes two hours to fill the same bucket, the flow rate would be two and a half gallons per hour.

Use Water Pressure

Another mathematical option that doesn’t require seeing the water can focus on water pressure to calculate the flow rate. You can use a pressure gauge and Poiseuille’s Law. To calculate the flow, you will use an equation to track the flow.

You will need to calculate the water pressure at two points and subtract the second from the first. Then, you will multiply that by the radius to the fourth power and then by Pi.

After that, you will need to multiply the water viscosity by the length and then by eight. Finally, you can divide the first number by this second number. While this calculation is more complex than the other options, it can be useful if you can’t see the water and don’t want to pour water just to calculate the flow rate.

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.

Water Flow Calculation: What is the Average Household Flow Rate? (2)

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.

More from the Blog:

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  • Water Filter vs Water Softener: What’s the Difference?


What is the average household water flow rate? ›

In general, we use 50 to 100 gallons per person per day in our homes (200 to 400 gallons per day for a family of four). The household water use estimates given in Table 1 can be used to calculate more specific daily water use values for your home.

What is the average household water pressure GPM? ›

Compare that with standard flow rates across the U.S. For the standard home, a typical GPM looks something like this: Kitchen faucet: 2-3 GPM. Shower: 1.5-3 GPM. Dishwasher: 2-4 GPM.

How do you calculate flow rate at home? ›

The easiest way to get a fairly accurate measure of your water flow rate is to time yourself filling up a bucket. So for example if you fill up a 10 litre bucket in 1.5 minutes, then your flow rate will be: 10/1.5 = 6.66 Litres per minute.

What are the flow rates for household fixtures? ›

A toilet will normally use about 2-3 gallons per minute (gpm), a shower from 1.5 to 3.0 gpm, a bathroom or kitchen faucet from 2-3 gpm, a dishwasher from 2-4 gpm, and a washing machine from 3-5 gpm.

How do you calculate water flow rate? ›

Distance (or length) divided by Time equals Rate.

Rate is the flow rate or speed of the water, using the unit “meters per second. “ For example: The object travels a 5 meter length of stream in 8 seconds. Divide 5 (length traveled) by 8 (time it took to travel the distance) for an answer of .

Is 1.75 gpm enough for a shower? ›

Also known as "flow rate", GPM is a measure of how many gallons of water flow out of your shower head each minute. Since 1992, a maximum of 2.5 GPM is the federally mandated flow rate for new shower heads. This means no more than 2.5 gallons of water should flow out each minute.

What is adequate gpm for residential well? ›

The Water Well Board suggests that a minimum water supply capacity for domestic internal household use should be at least 600 gallons of water within a two-hour period once each day. This is equivalent to a flow rate of 5 gallons per minute (gpm) for two hours.

Is 2.0 gpm enough for a shower? ›

Standard shower heads use 2.5 gpm, but to earn the WaterSense label, a product must use no more than 2 gpm and still meet strict performance requirements. The EPA estimates that the average family could save 2,900 gallons of water per year by installing a WaterSense-labeled shower head.

Is 1.5 gpm enough for a shower? ›

Efficient shower heads use at least 1.5gpm. Taking the same amount of time in the shower uses only 15 gallons of water. The water savings amount up to 65 gallons of water!

What is a good flow rate for a residential well? ›

The Water Well Board suggests that a minimum water supply capacity for domestic internal household use should be at least 600 gallons of water within a two-hour period once each day. This is equivalent to a flow rate of 5 gallons per minute (gpm) for two hours.

How many GPM should a family of 4 have? ›

Generally speaking, you should expect to need around 4 GPM (gallons per minute) for a two-person household and around 6 GPM for a four-person household. However, if you have a larger household size, multiple bathrooms, or specialized plumbing fixtures, you will likely need a higher flow rate.

Is 2.5 gpm considered low flow? ›

Unfortunately, there is no firm definition of low-flow, but it's generally accepted that anything using 1.5 gallons per minute (gpm) or less is considered “ultra low flow,” while anything using 2.5 gallons per minute to 1.5 gallons per minute is considered “low flow.” Nowadays, thanks to standards set by the government ...

Is 2 gpm a good flow rate? ›

Good Sense with WaterSense

That means an estimated 1.2 trillion gallons of water are used for showering annually in the United States. Standard shower heads use 2.5 gpm, but to earn the WaterSense label, a product must use no more than 2 gpm and still meet strict performance requirements.


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