How Do You Increase Water Pressure in Your Shower?
Showering should be a relaxing, refreshing experience, but low water pressure can turn it into a frustrating and time-consuming task. Is there any way to increase the water pressure in the shower? Corroded water pipes may be the ultimate culprit. But there may be many other causes that are easier to fix than unplugging all the pipes in the house. First, determine if your shower flow rate is low by performing a simple test to measure the shower flow rate in gallons per minute (GPM).
Then, read on to learn how to increase the water pressure in your shower.
What Causes Low Water Pressure in the Shower?
If you used to have good shower pressure but now feel it has dropped, there could be for several reasons. The most common problem is a clogged shower head, but other reasons may include aging, corrosion, or clogs in pipes and valves. If you want to learn about the causes of low water pressure in your home, read the article "What Causes Low Water Pressure in the House?".
- Tip: Increasing the flow rate of your shower head may improve your showering experience, but keep in mind that higher flow rates will deplete hot water faster, especially with traditional tank-type water heaters.
How to Test the Water Pressure in Your Shower
Before you try to fix your shower water pressure, you should test it first. Knowing the water pressure can help you find the flow rate, or GPM, of the water coming out of your shower head. You can test your shower's water pressure without using a pressure gauge.
(1) Test the Flow Rate of the Shower Head
Turn the showerhead on to maximum water pressure and let it run for about a minute. When you're ready, place a 5-gallon bucket under the shower head so that all the water that comes out of the shower head flows into the bucket. Once the first drop of water hits the bottom of the bucket, start the timer. Continue until the moment the bucket is completely full, then stop the timer.
(2) Calculate the Flow Rate of Shower Head
To find the flow rate, divide the number of gallons by the time it takes to fill the bucket. Since you are using a 5-gallon bucket, it should be 5 divided by the time it takes to completely fill the bucket. For example, if it takes 2 minutes to fill a bucket, you would divide 5 by 2 to get 2.5 gallons per minute (GPM).
Check the flow rate against these standard benchmarks for flow rate:
- 1.5 GPM: Standard flow rate for low-flow showerheads;
- 2 GPM: Current US Federal WaterSense Standard;
- 2.5 GPM: The legal maximum flow rate for all shower heads in the United States, established in 1992;
PS: If you want to know more about GPM's information or don't know what GPM shower head you should choose, you can read the article "1.75 GPM VS 2.5 GPM Shower Head".
3. How to Increase Water Pressure in The Shower
Once you've tested your showerhead's flow and determined it really needs an increase, use these methods to increase the water pressure in your shower.
(1) Turn Off Water-Using Appliances
The easiest way to increase the water pressure in the shower is relatively simple. When you want to take a shower, just make sure to turn off all water-using appliances and plumbing fixtures (such as dishwashers, washing machines, irrigation systems, garden hoses, toilets, and other showers ). This directs all the water flow to the one shower you are using, causing the water pressure to increase.
(2) Shower During Off-Hours
Another simple solution to low water pressure is to avoid showering during peak times of the day. Peak hours usually refer to early morning when most people get up and take a shower before going to work. Late afternoon and early evening are also considered peak times as people come home from get off work to cook and shower after a day out. To ensure you get the best water pressure in your shower, choose a non-working hour for rinsing.
(3) Check the Valves to Make Sure They Are All Open
If changing your shower time doesn't fit your schedule (or has no noticeable effect on the water pressure of the shower), there may be a problem with your shower head or plumbing system. Start by checking all valves located upstream of the shower. This may include isolation valves on shower lines, home main shutoff valves, and emergency curb valves.
If any of these valves are not fully open, they may be restricting the flow of water into the shower. Check each valve to make sure it's fully open, then test the water pressure in the shower to see if there's a change. If there is no problem with the isolation valve or main shutoff valve, then you may want to contact your local water company service department and have them test the emergency curb valve, as most homeowners do not have a curb key to operate the valve.
(4) Untie or Replace the Shower Hose
One common problem that is often overlooked is a kinked shower hose. Not every shower has a handheld showerhead that connects to the wall with a hose, so if your shower doesn't have a handheld showerhead, you can skip this method. However, if your shower does have a shower hose, check the link for any kinks that might restrict the flow of water. In most cases, the kinks can be untied without further work, but if the hose has been kinked for a long time, it may need to be replaced to restore water pressure.
(5) Clean Shower Head
Your shower head can be the source of water pressure issues, especially if it's not clean. Over time, water flowing through a shower head can leave mineral deposits and scale buildup that partially clogs the shower head and restricts the flow of water. Depending on the severity of the problem, it can usually be solved by cleaning the shower head with a white vinegar solution.
Start by pouring enough white vinegar into a bowl, bucket, or other container to completely submerge the shower head, then unscrew the shower head and soak it in the container for about eight hours. After soaking the shower head, use a soft-bristled brush and toothpick to remove any remaining particles from the individual spray holes, then reinstall the shower head and test the pressure.
For more ways to clean your shower head, please refer to the article "How to Clean a Shower Head".
(6) Replace Shower Head
In some cases, the shower head may be damaged or may have too much sediment to completely remove. Unfortunately, this means you'll need to replace your shower head to improve your water pressure. Additionally, some shower heads are specifically designed to reduce water flow. If you have a low-flow showerhead, or if you have a shower filter or water restrictor (usually a small plastic dish inside the showerhead) installed in a regular showerhead, your shower flow will be reduced to a minimum. Depending on your current flow rate, you can increase the flow rate simply by removing the filter restrictor or selecting a shower head with a higher flow model (such as increasing to a standard 2.5 GPM head).
- Tip: Before replacing your shower head, make sure the new model is legal in your area. In California, for example, sprinkler flow rates have been shrinking for decades due to the state's ongoing drought issues. Shower heads first go from 2.5 GPM to 2.0 GPM and then to 1.5 GPM.
(7) Replace Shower Valve
While the shower head may be to blame for some of the problem, the shower valve may also be causing the water pressure to drop, especially if your shower currently has a single-handle valve. This is because over time, the valve's internal components wear out, ultimately affecting the flow of hot and cold water through the valve assembly. Replacing the shower valve with a new valve assembly should restore normal flow of water to the shower head. However, you may need to hire a plumber to do the job, depending on your skills and experience with home plumbing.
(8) Check and Replace Pipes
Old water pipes gradually accumulate minerals and scale inside the pipes. This reduces the inside diameter of the pipe and restricts the flow of water, so even if you have 3/4-inch copper pipe, the flow rate may be reduced to the inside diameter of 1/2-inch copper pipe. Depending on the type of plumbing you have, the problem may also be caused by a water pipe bending or even collapsing.
In this case, it might be time to upgrade your home’s plumbing. Talk to a plumber about possible options for replacing the plumbing lines throughout your house, but be prepared for the high cost of this remodeling project.
(9) Upgrade to Larger Water Pipes
Even if there aren't any existing problems with the water pipes, the diameter of the pipes may be too small for the needs. Most residential properties have 1/2-inch or 3/4-inch pipes running throughout the house. Larger properties may have 1-inch or even 2-inch moldings. If the water pressure in your home is too low, the problem may be caused by narrow water pipes. Talk to a plumber about upgrading your water pipes to a larger size than you currently need to increase water pressure throughout your home.
(10) Install Shower Pump
If none of the above methods work and you're still looking for ways to increase your shower water pressure, another option is to install a shower pump. When you turn on the water in your shower, the water flows through the shower pump, which uses an impeller to increase water pressure and then reaches the shower head. Keep in mind that you will need to have a plumber install the pump, so this is another more expensive solution.
By implementing these simple fixes, you can increase shower water pressure in your home and create a more pleasant showering experience.