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Do High Pressure Shower Heads Work?

When shopping for a new shower head, you’ll find that there are many different types available, of which one commonly marketed is high pressure shower heads.

With them come several advantages and disadvantages, which we’ll discuss in this article.

Facts About Shower Head Flow Rate

As of 1992, the federal government restricted the flow rate of shower heads to 2.5 gallons per minute (GPM). Enacted by the Energy Policy Act, the goal of this bill was to reduce the amount of water used in the United States. Since then, additional measures have been enacted to further reduce water consumption, like the EPA WaterSense program, which requires shower heads to have a flow rate of 2.0 GPM or less to be certified. Local municipalities have also enacted their own water restrictions – like California, which caps the flow rate of all shower heads sold in the state at 1.8 GPM.

With such restrictions in place, folks have been looking for ways to increase the water pressure for a more thorough and satisfying showering experience.

How do high pressure shower heads work?

High pressure shower heads work by increasing the flow rate to the legal maximum and by decreasing the diameter of the shower head so the spray is more concentrated. The spray patterns are also specially designed to provide a more powerful stream of water. In short, certain shower heads can work to provide a higher pressure, so long as they have the proper design, size, and spray patterns.

Do high pressure shower heads use more water?

High pressure and flow are two independent variables. Pressure refers to the force of water coming out of the shower head, whereas flow is the amount of water coming out of the shower head. A high pressure shower head can have a low flow rate and vice versa. What impacts water usage will be both the flow rate and the time it takes to shower.

Are high pressure shower heads good?

Whether or not they are “good” is purely subjective. However, these are some of the leading benefits that folks have reported:

  • Feels better on the skin: With an increased amount of pressure, the water provides a massaging-like effect, which can help to release tension and relax the body.
  • Works more effectively: With a stronger stream of water provided by a high pressure shower head, folks enjoy that they can clean themselves thoroughly and more quickly without leaving behind any soapy residue.
  • Often offer various spray settings: To achieve a pressurized stream of water, the water will be redirected to fewer holes, which can result in a more concentrated spray. Some high pressure shower heads have multiple spray settings to provide a more versatile showering experience.

Important Features of a High-Pressure Shower Head

When buying a high pressure shower head, you’ll want to keep the following in mind:

Does the size of the shower head matter?

The diameter of the shower head has a direct impact on how much water is dispersed. Broadly speaking, a larger diameter of the shower head will result in a lower pressure as the water is redirected to more holes. Conversely, smaller shower heads provide a more concentrated spray. If you are looking for better pressure, we recommend a diameter of 5″ or smaller.

What about the nozzle technology?

Modern brands have introduced self-cleaning nozzles that reduce the likelihood that the shower head will collect mineral deposits. This unique technology can reduce clogs, which can lead to a decrease in water pressure.

How the water flows out of the shower head

Shower heads will either have an aerated or laminar flow. As we discussed at length in this post, aerated flow mixes water and air to reduce water usage. This results in lower pressure and often higher energy costs as you’ll need to raise the water temperature to compensate for the loss of heat from the air. Laminar flow delivers a non-splashing stream that creates a steady stream of water. For pressure, laminar flow is better.

Why your current shower head may have low water pressure

If you are experiencing low water pressure, there are several possible causes. However, the most common is due to mineral deposits that disrupt the flow of water. This problem is often exacerbated by hard water, which is water that has a high mineral content of calcium and magnesium.

If you recently moved into a new home or apartment, the existing shower heads may have had a reduced GPM of 1.5 or 1.8, which can feel noticeably weaker than the shower head you may have been using previously.

Will buying a new shower head increase water pressure?

This will depend on the model you choose. If you are looking for an increase in pressure, then you’ll want to look for a shower head with a smaller diameter. We also suggest going with a reputable brand like Moen, Delta, Kholer, etc., as they offer a wide variety of shower heads and are backed by excellent warranties. Additionally, opting for a shower head with laminar flow technology will provide a more powerful, steady stream of water.

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Frank Harmenstein

From humble beginnings as a plumber and handyman, Frank Harmenstein has emerged as a leading authority on shower heads, a title he has earned through years of dedication and hard work. With over two decades of experience in the plumbing industry, Frank has developed an unrivalled expertise in the installation, maintenance, and repair of shower systems. His passion for shower heads has led him to write extensively on the subject, sharing his knowledge and insights with readers around the world.

Born and raised in a small town, Frank's interest in plumbing was sparked at an early age by his father, who was a respected plumber in their community. Inspired by his father's dedication to his craft, Frank pursued an apprenticeship in plumbing and soon discovered his niche in the world of shower heads. He quickly gained a reputation as a skilled handyman who could fix any shower-related issue and provide expert advice on selecting the perfect shower head for any bathroom.

After years of honing his skills and knowledge, Frank decided to share his passion for shower heads with a wider audience by becoming an author.