There is nothing rejuvenating about taking a shower when your water pressure is closer to a trickle than a gush. Luckily, there are many things you can try to fix shower pressure problems, many of which won’t cost you a cent!
But before you read on to see our ten tried-and-true methods for increasing showerhead pressure, you should take a moment to test your shower pressure to make sure it is actually low.
To test the water pressure in your shower:
- Get a 1-quart measuring bowl.
- Hold it under your running showerhead and start your timer.
If it takes more than 6 seconds to fill the bowl to the 1-quart mark, your shower pressure is less than optimal.
If that’s the case for you, it’s time to keep reading to find out how to increase water pressure in your shower.
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Why Is Your Water Pressure Low?
If you can identify the likely cause of your pressure problem, it will be easier to find the correct fix. However, it isn’t always easy to do and may require the help of a professional plumber.
Several issues can lead to pressure problems in your shower.
If the problem is sudden, then the issue likely has something to do with plumbing. Blockages in pipes and leaks will reduce how much water is getting to your showerhead.
If it always existed or came on more gradually, it may be because of your area’s municipal water system. Old infrastructure often struggles to keep up with demand. It can mean less water is available for your house or building than what you need.
Pump issues and shallow wells can also cause pressure problems. It’s either you already have a broken pump, or it is about to reach the end of its life.
How To Increase The Water Pressure in Your Shower
If your pressure problem is due to an in-house plumbing issue, there are many solutions that may fix it. If, on the other hand, it is a problem with your water source or municipal plumbing, your options are limited, but there are still a few things you can try.
Clean The Showerhead
The first place to start, regardless of whether you think you know the source of the pressure problem or not, is to clean your showerhead.
Most municipal water supplies contain a fair amount of minerals. Calcium, magnesium, and potassium are often added to water or may be found naturally in varying quantities. These minerals are beneficial to your body but not so great for your plumbing and appliances.
One of the first places you are likely to find hard water mineral build-up is on your shower head. Crusty white deposits often form around the spray holes. If left uncleaned, these deposits will continue to grow until they block the hole completely.
If you are having sudden pressure issues with your shower, try removing the showerhead and soaking it in a solution of vinegar, water, and baking soda. Or you can use a commercial hard water cleaner like CLR.
Learn More: Turn your shower into a ‘Smart Shower’
Check The Main Water Valve
If your pressure problem started shortly after some plumbing work was done or has existed since you moved into your home, the issue might be with a partially closed main water valve.
The main water valve controls the flow of water into your home. If it is not completely opened after a plumbing job, it can lead to pressure problems not just in the shower but throughout your entire home.
Your main water valve is likely to be located in your basement, utility room, or near your water heater. Look for a large red handle on the main water pipe coming into the room. The handle will be set parallel to the pipe when it is completely open.
Unkink The Hose
If the pressure problem is only in the shower, your issue likely lies somewhere in the bathroom.
If you are lucky, the problem is as simple as a kinked handheld shower head hose. Some dual-use showerheads also have flexible retractable hoses inside the unit that can easily get kinked.
Unking the hose is simple. All you have to do is uninstall your showerhead and check for any kinks or twists in the internal and external hoses.
Remove Flow Restrictors
While your showerhead is uninstalled, it is also worth checking for a small plastic device called a flow restrictor or water saver.
These devices slow the water flow to the showerhead to help conserve water use. However, if your house or shower already struggles to get enough pressure, a flow restrictor will only amplify the problem. By removing it, you may be able to get your shower pressure up to a more normal level.
How to remove the flow restrictor varies based on the brand, but this video will give you a general idea of what to look for and how to do it.
Look For Leaks
Sudden pressure changes in faucets and the showerhead are often indicative of a plumbing leak. It is crucial to find these leaks as quickly as possible, not just for the sake of your shower enjoyment but to prevent wall damage and mold growth.
Trace the path of your plumbing from your shower down to your main water valve. Look for water stains or sagging areas on walls, ceilings, and flooring. Sometimes leaks are large enough that you can hear them inside the wall. Others are so slight that it may take days for any physical sign to appear.
If you know where your water meter is, you can use that to check for a leak. Make sure to turn off all your faucets and appliances, then look at your meter. If it is still clicking up, that means water is running somewhere in your home.
If you can’t identify the leak and fix it yourself, don’t hesitate to call a professional plumber to help.
Open The Hot Water Shut-Off Valve
If the low-pressure issue is more apparent when you set your shower temperature to hot, you have a water heater problem. The most likely cause is an obstructed valve feeding into the unit.
Check your water heater and make sure all valves are open.
Suppose the valves aren’t the issue, and you are confident the pressure problem is isolated to the hot water side. In that case, it may be a clog within the water heater or something specific to the hot water plumbing leading to the shower.
Start by flushing your water heater to clear any debris. If that doesn’t work, then find an excellent plumber to check the hot water lines in your walls.
Use A Low-Pressure Shower Head
If you are one of those unlucky homeowners or renters who live in a city or building with widespread pressure problems, your fix options are limited. One of the less expensive of those options is to get a low-pressure showerhead.
These specialty showerheads amplify water pressure by forcing the weak flow of water through smaller holes or mixing oxygen with the water to increase its volume.
In either case, you end up with a shower that feels more pressurized while still relying on the same amount of incoming water.
Turn Off Other Water Using Appliances
Using multiple water-utilizing appliances at once will amplify any water pressure issues you already have.
Before you take a shower, be sure the washer and dishwasher are not in use. Likewise, make sure any irrigation or sprinkler systems are scheduled at night to reduce the amount of water being used at once.
If you live in a multiplex or apartment building, your water fights won’t just be restricted to your unit. Try to schedule your showers for times when your neighbors are less likely to be running their appliances or taking a shower themselves.
Install A Shower Pump
Another possible solution to low-pressure problems caused by factors outside your home (or outside your control) is installing a shower pump.
These pumps use impellers to increase the water pressure in the plumbing system that feeds your shower head. Some utilize two impellers—one for hot and one for cold—while those meant for use in single input showerheads only use one impeller.
This option is more expensive than others we’ve looked at so far, but it may be your best option if you deal with a municipal pressure problem or pressure problems caused by water overuse in a multiplex.
Unless you are a capable plumber, you will most likely want to hire a professional to install your new shower pump. You may even want to consult a plumber before choosing which pump to purchase, as there is a long list of options available, many of which are specific to certain setups.
Check out the video below to learn more about shower pumps and what it takes to install one.
Whole House Problems
Many of the above solutions are great for increasing the pressure in your shower, but what if your pressure problems affect your entire house?
Generally, whole house pressure issues signify that you are suffering from a city-wide pressure problem or a well malfunction. But if your well has been checked out and your neighbors don’t have problems, then the issue could still be a problem with your plumbing.
Water heaters are often the culprit for whole house water pressure issues. Just like your shower head, these appliances can suffer from hard water deposits that reduce water flow. Broken valves and bent pipes coming out of the tank are also possible culprits.
Of course, these issues aren’t always isolated to just your water heater.
If you notice hard water buildup in your water heater or even on your shower head, there is a good chance this same debris is accumulating in your pipes as well. An experienced plumber can provide a plumbing health assessment and offer solutions based on the specific problems found in your home.
Low shower pressure is never something you want to have to put up with. Luckily, with the above tips, you won’t have to.
Once you figure out the cause of your water pressure problem, you can take the first step to find a solution. Increasing the water pressure in your shower is often as easy as cleaning the showerhead with CLR or removing the flow restrictor. If these simple solutions don’t work, you may have to invest a bit more money in a shower pump or hire a plumber to help you resolve your whole house water pressure issues.
Confused about how to address your water pressure problems? Comment below with your question and we will be happy to help find the solution.