Low water pressure can be frustrating. Trying to figure out why you have low water pressure in the first place can perhaps be even more frustrating as there are several potential reasons, such as a clogged shower head nozzle, leaky piping, and faulty valves.
Below, we will outline seven reasons why the water flow may appear restricted, along with some helpful advice on resolving each issue.
1. Check for leaks in the piping
Start with the obvious – check for leaks.
Check all the pipes and fixtures from your bathroom to your basement for leaks. Common areas where we see issues are where the shower head and shower arm connect; even the smallest water drip could be making a difference.
Sometimes, the pipe may leak water simply because it needs to be tightened. However, if that is not the case or the piping is still leaking water after tightening it, you can use epoxy putty to seal the leak while you wait for a plumber to fix it professionally.
2. Check your water main and water heater
If you’ve had plumbing or other work done in your house recently that would have required the water to be turned off, such as work on your kitchen sink, the bathroom, a dishwasher, or washing machine, it is possible that they could not have opened up the valve fully. Opening the valve until the knob is fully turned on should fix the issue.
However, if you noticed that the cold water runs fine, but the hot water is lacking, then it would be worthwhile to check that your water heating shut-off valve, also known as a water heating shut down valve in some regions, is fully open.
Once both valves are fully open, try the shower again and see if that fixes your low water pressure.
3. Clean your shower head
Without regular upkeep, a shower head or its nozzles can develop a build-up of mineral debris, limescale, and sediment that can restrict water flow and cause low water pressure. If left unchecked, this debris can become so bad that it completely blocks the water flow or pressure from your shower head. This is especially a concern if you have hard water, as the debris will likely build up faster.
Fortunately, there are several ways you can clean your shower head, but make sure you are using a method that will not ruin the finish of the shower head. A few ways of cleaning your shower head are filling a plastic bag with vinegar and soaking your shower head in it, scrubbing the shower head and each individual nozzle with equal parts vinegar and water or lemon juice, or using a commercial shower head cleaner that specializes in removing limescale and debris.
If you notice that even after trying to clean the shower head, there are still clogged nozzles, then it may be time to replace the shower head altogether.
Related: Best Handheld Shower Heads
4. Remove the water restrictor valve
Shower heads often have a built-in water restrictor or flow limiter that is designed to, as the name suggests, limit the flow of water through the shower head. The water restrictor valve, or flow limiter, allows the shower head to adhere to the EPA’s WaterSense standards, limiting the water flow to a maximum of 2.0gpm, or gallon per minute. However, the water restrictor valve in your shower head can also cause lower water pressure.
It is important to note removing the valve, or flow limiter is both not recommended by the EPA and usually requires professional assistance if you don’t have your shower head’s manual to help you along.
Removing the water restrictor valve or flow limiter will increase the water pressure, therefore increasing the amount of water that flows through the shower head, which can cost you more money on your water bill and alter any current water conservation efforts you have in place.
Another alternative is replacing the water restrictor valve or flow limiter with one that is larger in diameter so you can increase your water flow and water pressure but still have some level of control over your water bill’s cost. You could also look into replacing your shower head with one designed to put out a higher water flow with increased water pressure.
5. Stop using water elsewhere while you shower
If you or someone else is using a water appliance in your house while you take your shower, such as the dishwasher, the sink, or even the washing machine, it can cause low water pressure in your shower head. This is because the water supply in your house is being directed to multiple places, such as if you try to put your clothes in the washing machine or dishes in the dishwasher while you shower at once rather than all of the water being sent to your shower head.
Try using only your shower and no other water-dependent home appliance to see if that fixes the water pressure. If so, try to stagger your usage of home appliances that use water moving forward so that they don’t detract from each other’s water pressure and take away from the quality of your shower experience.
6. Install a water pressure booster pump
If you’ve tried all of the above methods to fix your low water pressure and you’re still not getting enough water flow or pressure from your shower head, you can try looking into a water pressure booster pump.
A water pressure booster pump is a device that is typically installed in your water main or water tank if that’s how your place of living is supplied water. It can detect drops in water flow or pressure, ensure the water pressure in your house is consistent, and boost the water pressure in your house overall. Water pressure boosters are available in several different sizes, and it’s important to research when determining which best fits your needs for your home and shower head.
Be sure to check your pipes for any weak spots or cracks to make sure your pipes won’t burst under increased water pressure. Also, be aware that installing a water booster pump may result in higher costs on your energy and water bill due to its function of detecting and increasing the water pressure as needed.
We recommend calling a plumber to install the water pressure booster pump, but here is a video that will help with understanding more about the pump and its installation:
7. Call a plumber
Once you have tried everything you could to fix the low water pressure from your shower head on your own with no improvement, it’s time to call a plumber. Several issues can cause low water pressure, and some of them are best handled by a professional to ensure the durability and structure of your pipes.