Having low water pressure in the shower or the whole house can be such an annoyance. It makes showers less exciting and even takes longer. At times, you may have an issue where there is no hot water in the shower but the sinks are fine. Some of the causes of these issues can become major disasters if not fixed on time.
Remove the water-restrictor and unclog the shower, open all shutoff valves, fix kinks and leaks in pipes, shower in off-peak hours and with the other fixtures off, replace the volume valve system, the water pressure regulator, the water heater, and the showerhead to fix low water pressure in the shower.
If the low water pressure is a problem in your bathroom, buy the Delta Faucet 2-Spray H2Okinetic Shower Head. It provides a powerful shower experience even when the inlet has low pressure.
Do I have low water pressure in the shower?
Water pressure is measured in gallons per minute (GPM) or liters per minute (LPM). Perform a simple shower pressure test with a 5-gallon bucket and a stopwatch as in the following steps:
- Turn the shower on fully. Let it run for at least a minute.
- Place the 5-gallon bucket under the water making sure all the water from the shower goes into the bucket.
- Start the stopwatch as soon as the water drops into the bucket.
- Stop the clock the moment the water starts overflowing.
- Divide 5 by the time taken to fill the bucket in minutes to get the flow rate.
Any figure below 1.5 GPM (5.7 LPM) means that the water pressure in your shower is low. In the United States, 1.5 GPM is the standard flow rate from low-flow showerheads, 2 GPM is the U.S. Federal WaterSense standard and 2.5 GPM is the maximum legal water flow for shower heads.
How to increase water pressure in shower
|Causes of low shower pressure||Fixes of low shower pressure|
|Flow restrictor in the shower head||Remove the flow restrictor|
|Clogged or closed curb-side shutoff||Open or unclog curb-side shutoff|
|A malfunctioning volume valve system||Replace the volume valve system|
|Clogged shower head||Unclog the shower head|
|Faulty water pressure regulator||Replace the water pressure regulator|
|Faulty or closed main shutoff valve||Open or replace the main shutoff valve|
|Faulty or closed in-line shutoff valve||Open or replace the in-line shutoff valve|
|Worn-out mixing valve||Fix or replace the mixing valve|
|Damaged or leaking pipes||Fix or replace pipes|
|Peak hours for water usage||Shower during off-peak hours|
|Kinks in the water line||Remove kinks in pipes|
|Low water pressure from the mains||Install a low-pressure shower head|
|Install a shower pump to boost pressure|
|Other fixtures are also running||Turn off other fixtures when showering|
|Install a pressurized unvented cylinder|
What causes low water pressure in shower?
The causes of low water pressure in the shower include the following:
1. A water-restricting showerhead
Low-flow showerheads come with flow-restrictors that limit the water flow to a certain GPM. Normal showerheads may also have water-restricting devices or shower filters installed in them which may limit the amount of water they release per minute.
If there’s low water pressure in one shower, a water restrictor is probably the cause. Also, if a new shower head has no pressure, it likely has a water restrictor in it which should be removed to enjoy the full water pressure.
2. The curb-side main shutoff is clogged or not fully opened
The curb-side main shutoff for your water supply is the area where the meter is located. It usually has a meter and a shutoff valve. If the entire house has low water pressure, the curb-side shutoff valve could be only partially opened after installation or repairs.
The shutoff valve could also be clogged by dirt from the mains supply.
3. A malfunctioning volume valve system
The volume valve system on a single-handle shower faucet can get rusty or broken leading to reduced water pressure. This part can get damaged easily especially when you use hard water in your bathroom. Often, if there is no water pressure in the shower but plenty everywhere else, the cause is a malfunctioning volume valve system that needs to be replaced.
4. The showerhead is clogged
If you use hard water in your bathroom, the limescale can build up in the showerhead and clog up the spray openings. When there’s no water in the shower but sinks are fine, a clog in the showerhead is the probable cause with the solution being unclogging it.
5. A faulty water pressure regulator
If the water pressure is low in your shower, the problem may a faulty water pressure regulator. A water pressure regulator keeps the water pressure in the home within safe confines (46 to 60 psi). When it fails, the water pressure can get too low or too high.
6. The main shutoff is not fully opened, is clogged, or has leaks
Besides the curb-side shutoff valve, the main shutoff valve (or simply the mains) is used to regulate water into the house. At times, the main shutoff valve may not be fully open or is clogged up with dirt.
If the shower knob turns but there’s no water, it could be a problem with the main shutoff valve. If the taps and spouts in the house don’t have water as well, the problem is the mains valve.
7. The in-line shut-off valves are off or not fully open
If you’re experiencing low water pressure in the shower only, it could be an in-line shut-off valve that has not been fully opened or is damaged. In-line shutoff valves are located on individual pipes such as the ones leading to the bathroom, sink, and other fixtures in the home.
8. A worn-out mixing valve
If either the hot or cold water pressure is normal while the other one isn’t, the problem could be a worn-out or stuck mixing valve. For example, if there is no hot water in the shower but the sinks are fine, it means that the mixing valve for the bathroom has a problem and needs fixing or replacing.
9. Damaged or leaking pipes
Pipes that leak lose some of the water pressure from the source. You end up with low pressure in the shower or other fixtures in the home. Damaged or clogged pipes will also reduce the water pressure at the end of the pipe.
Undersized pipes can also be a major issue given that they limit the amount of water that passes through them to the house and its fixtures. With undersized pipes, you can only achieve a certain level of pressure in the shower.
10. Faulty water heater
If you experience low pressure only when the hot water is turned on, it could be a faulty water heater. You can only fix water pressure in the shower when the water heater is fixed for this problem.
11. It’s the peak hours for water use
When the shower water pressure is low all of a sudden, it can be that it’s during peak hours in your neighborhood. For example, if you take your showers during the mornings or evenings like everyone else in the neighborhood, water pressure will be significantly low.
If the water pressure in the shower or other fixtures tends to fluctuate up and down during the day, it’s the number of users during those times.
12. Kinks in the water line
If you use a showerhead with a flexible water line or hose, it may have kinks or is twisted as you’re using it. This will often reduce the pressure and can completely stop the flow of water. When the shower pressure is low while you’re using the handheld showerhead, a tangled or twisted hose is the likely cause.
13. The water pressure is just low
At times, the low pressure in the shower isn’t caused by anything rather than the fact that it’s just low even at the mains supply. This means that your plumbing system is working fine and the solutions to higher pressure include installing low-flow showerheads and shower boosters instead.
14. Other water fixtures are running
You might have noticed that the shower pressure goes down when you turn the tap on. If you observe low shower pressure and other fixtures are running, the pressure distribution between the fixtures would be the cause.
Most of these causes are quite easy to identify although some, like the issues with the valves, can be tough to find. This is where a plumber should be called upon.
How to increase water pressure in the shower
Fix low water pressure as follows:
1. Remove the water-restrictor to replace the showerhead
Remove the restrictor from the showerhead to increase the water flow rate. However, make sure the new pressure level is legal in your area lest you get arrested for breaking the law.
You can also replace the shower head with one that allows a higher water pressure as long as the new one has a flow-rate within the regulations. California, for example, has a flow-rate limit of 1.5 GPM.
2. Turn on or unclog the curb-side main shutoff
Turn the shutoff valve at the curb-side main shutoff in a counterclockwise direction until it opens the water fully. If the shutoff valve is a lever-type handle, turn the lever until it’s parallel to the pipe to fully turn on the water.
If the pipe is clogged or there is damage to the meter, you better call a qualified and licensed plumber to fix it for you. Tampering with a water meter is a legal offense.
3. Replace the volume valve system
The volume valve system for the shower faucet often just needs to be replaced with a new one given how complex it is to repair it. Replacing the volume valve system will change the water pressure in your shower.
A good volume valve system for your shower faucet is the Moen 3330 M-PACT Shower Valve. This is a multi-function volume valve system with high-quality materials that will last for ages.
4. Unclog the showerhead
Unscrew the showerhead from its stem then submerge it into a bowl of white vinegar for 8 hours. After that, clean the spray holes with a toothpick or needle. Screw the showerhead onto the shower stem then turn on the hot water at full volume to rinse it. You should turn up the water pressure in the shower with a clog-free showerhead.
If you can’t remove the showerhead from its stem, tie a plastic bag filled with vinegar around it then let it stay in place overnight. Afterward, remove the plastic bag then flush the showerhead with hot water to get rid of the calcium buildup. You can also use a needle to open up the pores.
You should learn more about how to clean a showerhead with vinegar and other cleaners for the best results.
5. Replace the water pressure regulator
A qualified plumber should examine the water pressure regulator and determine whether it can be fixed or needs a replacement. If you have to buy a new one, the Zurn Wilkins 34-NR3XLDU 3/4″ Pressure Reducing Valve is the best water pressure regulator on the market. It’s easy to set up and will last a lifetime.
6. Turn on or unclog the main shutoff valve
Turn the shutoff valve in a counterclockwise manner until the very end to turn on the water. If it’s the lever-type handle, turn the lever until it’s parallel to the pipe.
To unclog the main shutoff valve, turn off the water at the curb-side valve, remove the main shutoff valve then gently hit it with a mallet to dislodge the dirt from it. Rinse it in water before reinstalling it. You should get better water pressure in your shower after fully turning on the main shutoff valve.
7. Turn on the in-line shut-off valves
If the in-line shutoff valve is off or only half open, turn it in a counterclockwise direction until it reaches the end. If it’s the lever-type handle, turn it until it’s parallel to the pipe. You will get more pressure from the shower when the in-line shut-off valve is fully turned on.
8. Fix or replace the mixing valve
Buy a new mixing valve then have the plumber replace it for you. Mixing valves are quite complex and need someone with experience and the needed skills.
9. Fix or replace pipes
For leaking pipes, seal the leaks with glue, tape, or a pipe sleeve. If the pipe is damaged beyond repair, simply replace that particular pipe or section with a new one.
10. Replace the water heater
A qualified plumber should install the water heater for your home since it’s a complex task to do it yourself. Replacing the water heater should improve water pressure in the shower.
11. Use the shower in off-peak hours
Instead of taking showers when everyone in the neighborhood is at home, try doing so when they’re not. If your schedule allows it, take a shower during the day and late into the night for maximum pressure.
12. Remove kinks in the hose
Untangle or straighten the water line for your showerhead to increase shower pressure in your shower. This is a simple task that doesn’t need the input of an expert unless the water line is broken which, in this case, needs a replacement.
13. Install a low-pressure showerhead
Buy and install a low-pressure showerhead to produce a more powerful shower experience even when the pressure can’t be increased. It’s easy to install a showerhead provided it has the standard fitting sizes.
14. Install a shower pump
Buy and install a shower pump that increases the pressure in your bathroom significantly. You will need a plumber for this type of installation. This method is especially good when you want to increase water pressure in the shower in an apartment since you won’t affect the other users in the building.
15. Turn off other water fixtures
Turn off taps, faucets, and other showers in the home to enjoy the maximum pressure from the shower.
16. Install a pressurized unvented cylinder
A pressurized unvented hot water cylinder is a pressurized system fed directly from the cold mains water feed. This means that it delivers hot water at the mains pressure to the shower and other fixtures in the home.
If all the suggested solutions above don’t work, or you can’t perform one of them on your own, better call the plumber before you damage the plumbing system in your home. At all times, make sure you keep to the legal requirements with your plumbing units. The plumber should also be carrying out frequent inspections of the plumbing system to avoid some issues that may come up.