How can I improve the water pressure in my shower?

63

16

I recently purchased my first home. It has two bathrooms and the water pressure in both is less than ideal. What are some steps I can take to increase the pressure?

brendan

Posted 2010-07-23T14:14:01.723

Reputation: 575

Doesn't it has like a knob where you can adjust the pressure on the shower system? Maybe look near the boiler or other heating device if they're located there – BlueWizard – 2016-06-07T12:25:39.890

Use more narrow tube. – garik – 2012-01-03T01:42:06.400

@garik Wouldn't that decrease the flow-rate (gallons per minute)? – Geremia – 2018-01-16T03:21:47.880

7Is this only in the shower or the whole house? – Tester101 – 2010-07-23T14:31:24.240

Answers

40

This is an effective trick a plumbing contractor once told me.

Go to your local home improvement store and buy a cheap shower head (the one I picked up cost $1.50). If you look down inside of the showerhead you'll see a washer which constricts the water flow. If you take a drill and enlarge the hole, thereby increasing flow, the water pressure will increase. I didn't think it would work but it did!!

If you want to go the expensive route, there are pumps you can purchase that will attach to the piping and add pressure to the water. I've heard of such a thing but never looked for one.

user45

Posted 2010-07-23T14:14:01.723

Reputation:

Beat me to it while I was finding a link! :) – Doresoom – 2010-07-23T14:24:36.567

@doresoom I've had to do it in almost every place I lived ... not sure what it is with apartment complexes and water pressure. Alternatively you could move near a water tower ! now THAT is some water pressure. I lived in an apartment about 1000 feet from a water tower, was awesome water pressure. – None – 2010-07-23T14:32:00.463

11That's surprising that widening the hole increases the pressure - I would think it would lower the pressure and increase the volume. Weird! – Wayne Werner – 2010-07-23T20:40:54.437

Low flow is caused by low pressure. The stricture causes a pressure drop so that the pressure at the actual outer orifices of the shower, where the water emanates, is low and that's why it flows poorly. The condition is indistinguishable from having no stricture in the shower head, but instead poor supply pressure. And hence, people's intuition is basically right when they call it poor pressure. – Kaz – 2013-03-05T07:59:24.737

The pressure before the washer will decrease if the hole is enlarged but the pressure after the washer will increase if the hole is enlarged. Guess which one people care about? – Philip Ngai – 2013-03-05T17:17:16.533

21I think in general when people complain of low water pressure in the shower, what they really mean is low flow. – Mike Powell – 2010-07-26T04:18:02.687

20

In the U.S., shower heads are required by government regulation to restrict water flow in order to save water and energy. By law, they must deliver less than 2.5 gallons per minute. For this reason, many shower heads will deliver less than ideal flow and/or pressure. To get around the law, and benefit those with less-than-stellar water pressure, many showerheads (e.g., the Waterpik I recently bought) come with instructions for removing the flow regulator. If you've discarded those instructions, a quick Google search should be all you need to figure out how to remove the flow regulator in your shower head.

Vebjorn Ljosa

Posted 2010-07-23T14:14:01.723

Reputation: 6 844

7And even if there are no specific instructions, I've found that the regulator is often made of brightly-colored plastic that looks sort of "out of place." It's almost like it's begging to be removed. :) – Mike Powell – 2010-07-26T04:19:39.237

3Low pessure saving water is a myth. It just ends up making people bathing longer and thus using more water. – Pacerier – 2014-04-19T09:28:15.127

15

Low pressure can be caused by old galvanized pipe, which often build up deposits causing the water to be restricted.

Another cause of low pressure can be incorrect pipe size. I like to run a 3/4" trunk line with 1/2" legs to fixtures (which I think is pretty common).

Some houses have pressure reducing valves on the supply line, which are used to control the water pressure inside the house. Here's a video explaining how to adjust this valve.

  1. Start by loosening the lock nut.
    enter image description here
  2. Next turn the adjustment screw.
    • Turn the screw Clockwise to increase the pressure.
    • Turn the screw Anticlockwise to decrease the pressure.
      enter image description here
  3. Once the proper pressure is set, tighten the lock nut.

These answers all assume the pressure is low in the whole house. If it's just the shower see the other answers.

Tester101

Posted 2010-07-23T14:14:01.723

Reputation: 110 876

3And if your plumbing is borderline, increasing the pressure will introduce new, exciting leaks! Keep an eye out. – Jay Bazuzi – 2013-06-05T17:56:15.863

7

One thing to check before replacing items is the inline filter (if present). When my shower was performing poorly, I unscrewed the head and found a small mesh screen in the line that was clogging up. I cleaned it out and screwed everything back together to find my pressure right back where I expected it. :)

Sam Harwell

Posted 2010-07-23T14:14:01.723

Reputation: 391

4

Every Lowe's or Home Depot and other places like that have a shower head that looks something like this and I find I get a much more satisfactory result when I have low water pressure. It's just got a concentrated, small diameter of holes, and solid brass insides. They tend to run anywhere from 4-12 bucks depending on where you go and what brand is available in that store at that moment. Anyway, while they don't increase the flow, and they don't increase the pressure, they seem to at least concentrate the flow and improve the experience, and you don't need to alter them.

shower head

Jack Waggoner

Posted 2010-07-23T14:14:01.723

Reputation: 41

4

Is it the water pressure for the whole bathroom, or just the shower that's sub-par? Before I bought a house, my last apartment had really poor pressure in the shower, but the bathtub faucet was fine. I removed the shower head to see if that was the cause, and sure enough, there was plenty of water pressure in the shower, it was just the cheapo shower head that the apartment had installed. I bought a Waterpik and it solved everything.

Doresoom

Posted 2010-07-23T14:14:01.723

Reputation: 12 659

This also solved my problem. I thought I was doomed to poor water pressure in our second floor bathroom, but simply purchasing a relatively cheap Waterpik shower head and it's sooo much better. – Joseph Kingry – 2010-07-23T17:29:20.323

2

Nearly all shower heads sold in the USA are fitted with self adjusting pressure regulators manufactured by one company. The purpose of the regulator is to maintain a constant flow of water exiting the shower head regardless of the pressure entering it (30-80 psi). The problem with their design is that the regulators easily plug up with solids in the water. When they clog up, the pressure and the flow rate entering the shower head are reduced and the resulting spray is weak. This will happen regardless of the pressure upstream of the regulator, so raising the water pressure entering the home will probably not affect the performance of the shower head. In addition, the regulators are always found inside the shower heads and are nearly impossible to reach for cleaning. The solution is to find a shower head that will not clog up and will deliver a full, strong spray over a long period of time. I know a little about shower heads, as I am the founder and manufacturer of a very unique shower head.

thenozzleguy

Posted 2010-07-23T14:14:01.723

Reputation: 21

Self promotion is frowned upon around here, see our Frequently Asked Questions.

– Tester101 – 2013-03-05T13:11:17.510

I have no association with thenozzleguy but I did check out his web site and his product does have a novel technology with several significant benefits. I can not say it actually works since I have not evaluated it but I welcome exposure to products such as this. – Philip Ngai – 2013-03-05T17:35:05.980

1what comprises a "self adjusting pressure regulator" in "nearly all shower heads"? – HerrBag – 2013-03-05T20:29:34.313

1

Try the trick that was mentiond about widening the plastic hold in shower head this also works for the airators in sink fauset if it doesn't help then consider replacing the shower body. If its only in the bathroom if it's the hold house then check water heater and or boiler psi.

Mark

Posted 2010-07-23T14:14:01.723

Reputation: 147

1

Remove flow-rate restrictors in the shower head

You can make sure that there are no water flow rate restrictors inside the shower head. These can usually be pried out (I've done this on hand-held shower heads, too; see also this video):

taking out flow rate restrictors with needle-nose pliers

Or you might need to drill a bigger hole in the water inlet of the shower head (which I've done on larger shower heads).

Remove restrictors in the shower valve / install bigger plumbing

Even if you hack the shower head itself, your flow rate might be limited by the piping / valve of the shower itself (cf. this video).


Also, in the U.S., it's federal law that shower heads must be rated < 2½ gallons per minute! See Jeff Tucker's Hack Your Showerhead: Or How to Get the Government Out of Your Home and article.

Geremia

Posted 2010-07-23T14:14:01.723

Reputation: 128

1

If you have well water, the pressure in the holding tank may not be correct. The cut in and cut out pressures may need to be calibrated.

mohlsen

Posted 2010-07-23T14:14:01.723

Reputation: 4 819