Low Shower Head Water Pressure
Low Shower Head Water Pressure Shower TIPS
- Debris clogs flow restrictor in shower head
- Remove flow restrictor and clean
- People with own water source don't need flow restrictors
- Unequal water flow in shower head points to clogged valve cartridge
- CLICK HERE to Get Tim's FREE & FUNNY Newsletter!
DEAR TIM: The flow of water that comes from my shower is miserable. It's so weak it takes forever to wash my hair.
The water flow out of the tub spout is fine as is the flow at the bathroom sink. I've been told there is a flow restrictor in the shower head that's the culprit.
Can I remove it or modify it so I can take a reasonable shower? Is there another possible problem? Pamela F., Lakeland, FL
DEAR PAMELA: If there is not a flow restrictor in the shower head itself, there may be one in the body of the shower faucet.
Remove The Evil Disc
But more often than not, the flow of water is controlled at the shower head. There are strict laws in place that force manufacturers to limit the amount of water that a faucet and/or shower head can deliver in a given amount of time. I don't feel these laws should affect everyone.
Here's why. For starters, I'm a college-trained geologist and studied hydrogeology - the study of ground water.
I live in a rural area and get my water from a well. I'm also on a septic system. For each gallon of water I extract from my well another equal gallon of water goes back into the soil via my septic system.
But if you live in a city or area that gets its water from reservoirs that may not be filled every wet season, then it might be a good law for you in that it helps to conserve precious natural resources.
Free & Fast Bids
Even if you do live in an area where you don't have abundant fresh water like I do, you can simply take a US Navy shower in that you only have the water on to get wet and rinse off. As you clean your body with soap and shampoo, leave the water OFF to save water.
But most people are LAZY and won't do this simple thing to conserve water.
Let It Flow
I'm quite certain that with a little work the shower head will perform as designed and give you the desired strong stream of water you deserve and so desperately desire. It's possible that within 30 minutes you can make this shower head perform like a champion.
If this is a new home and the problem has been a chronic one since the day you moved in, there's a good chance the problem can be traced to a workmanship error.
As water supply lines are installed, small pieces of solder, copper shavings, wood dust, wood chips, globs of soldering flux, pieces of plastic, etc. can get into the water lines.
Flush Lines BEFORE Connecting Fixtures
It's the responsibility of the plumber to flush out the water supply lines before any fixtures are installed.
Flushing the water lines can happen at most fixtures just after the water shut-off valves have been installed but before the flexible supply lines have been connected from these valves to the faucets or fixtures.
But shower and tub valves are just a little more challenging. These valves are almost always installed before the interior of the house is finished and often before the water service from the street or pump has been connected to the interior plumbing lines.
Buckets & Pipe Nipples
To flush the shower water supply lines the plumber needs to have a few empty buckets and ten minutes.
The plumber just needs to have a helper to turn on and off the main water supply valve as he has the shower valve cartridge removed. This allows the water supply pipes to be flushed so the valve cartridge doesn't get clogged.
He then attaches an extended nipple or the actual shower arm to the threaded lug inside the wall where the shower water comes from. He leaves the shower head OFF the end of the shower arm.
When water is then turned on through the valve, any debris in the riser pipe is flushed out. The shower head can be installed once the water runs clear.
Guaranteed Clogs If No Flushing
If the lines are not flushed before the shower head is installed, the rapid flow of water carries a mixture of water and debris into the shower head. The extremely small holes in the flow restrictor can become clogged or partially clogged in an instant.
Water System Debris Issues
If the shower head worked fine and the flow became reduced over time, pieces of sediment or debris from the city water system or your well could have clogged the restrictor.
This is a very common occurrence, especially if you live in an area with older city water mains. If a city water main is serviced, pieces of sediment are often dislodged in the main water main as the water flows through the giant mains toward your house.
Remove Shower Head To Test
I would remove the shower head from the angled pipe that projects out from the wall. Once the shower head is off, turn on the shower faucet to see if you get a respectable amount of water flowing from the one-half inch diameter pipe that connected to the shower head.
If lots of water comes out of the bent shower arm pipe, the problem must be in the shower head.
Look Inside Shower Head
Look inside the end of the shower head where the water line connected to it. You should be able to see a small plastic disk.
Use a very thin pointed piece of metal to get a purchase under one edge of the disk. Try to pry the disk out of the shower head.
Work slowly and pay attention to which side of the small disk faces out towards the water supply pipe. When you go to reinstall the disk, it must be installed the same way it was at the factory.
Use Pin Or Needle To Unclog
Once the small disk is out of the shower head, use a small straight pin or other object to clean out the small holes.
Use plenty of fresh water to help rinse away any debris. Place the disk near a bright light so you can ensure each of the holes is perfectly clean.
Be sure you rinse the shower head at the same time to ensure no debris made it past the flow restrictor.
Soak In Hot White Vinegar
If the shower head is caked with hard water deposits, let the shower head soak in some warm white vinegar for twenty-four hours. The vinegar will often remove or soften the hard water deposits.
After soaking, use a toothbrush to remove any residual deposits and rinse with clear water. Install the small plastic flow restrictor disk and reattach the shower head to the water pipe.
Buy A New Shower Head?
Not all shower heads are designed the same and after removing one from the water supply pipe at the wall you may not see a plastic disk. If this happens and the flow of water from the supply pipe is adequate, just go buy a new shower head.
Shower heads are readily accessible and they are a common replacement part. In fact, you may find one that produces a better stream of water than what you had before.
Remember to use pipe thread compound on the water supply pipe that connects to the shower head. This prevents leaks where the shower head connects to the water supply pipe.
If your shower water delivers great pressure when you have the valve handle turned to all hot or all cold and then you turn it the other way and the volume decreases, this tells you the issue is in the VALVE.
One of the small ports or openings in the valve is clogged with a piece of sediment that's blocking the flow of the hot or cold water.
Clean out the cartridge or install a new one to get full flow again.