We’ve come a long way from the days of bathing in lakes and relying on traditional bathtubs. Taking a shower is a quick and easy way to start the day, but only if you have enough shower water pressure.
Whether you have trouble rinsing shampoo from your hair or simply feel like the pressure is inadequate, we will tell you how to increase water pressure in a shower.
The tips in our guide don’t require a plumber and could dramatically increase the flow rate of a shower head in less than an hour. Before we get to those methods, it’s good to understand what causes low water pressure in a shower.
Causes of Low Water Flow in a Shower
Have you just moved into a new home with low pressure in the bathroom, or has it been a constant problem for years? Does the water pressure only get low with warm water?
Both of those questions are important if you want to address the cause of low water pressure with a shower.
One reason for low water pressure is poorly routed water lines. This is something you may be unaware of, and it’s a common issue in older homes. There could also be an issue with the water main outdoors before it even reaches your home
From tree roots that cause leaks underground to older heads, there are a variety of reasons water pressure can suffer when you take a shower.
With that in mind, we’re going to start with the easiest solutions before moving on to fixes that require more time or a professional.
How To Increase Water Pressure In a Shower
Increasing the pressure in any shower is something any homeowner can do, as long as they know where to start.
The methods below are all simple from checking for blockages to removing stubborn mineral deposits that clog shower heads.
1. Clean the Shower Head
The first step to solving an issue with low water pressure in a shower is to clean the head.
This is a relatively quick fix and routine maintenance will ensure the nozzles or head doesn’t become clogged with minerals or sediment from the water lines.
Step 1: Remove the Shower Head
Take the shower head and try to twist it loose from the shower arm. In many cases, these are hand-tight and should come loose without a tool. If it’s too tight, you can use a wrench with a rag around the fitting to prevent damage.
Step 2: Clean the head
To clean the head, you simply need to put it in a bowl of distilled white vinegar for a few hours. This will loosen any sediment in the nozzles that could restrict water pressure. You can also speed the process up with a toothbrush.
Step 3: Reattach the Shower Head
Take Teflon or plumbers tape and wrap it around the threads on the shower arm if the old tape looks worn or isn’t present. When satisfied, screw the head back on tightly but don’t force it.
Turn on the water and let any sediment clear before taking a shower to check the water pressure.
If the Shower Head is stuck…
If the showerhead won’t come off of the pipe or is too much trouble, there is an alternative. You can place a baggie filled with distilled vinegar over the head and attach it with a rubber band.
After a few hours, remove the bag and run water to clear any debris in the nozzles and check the water pressure.
2. Look for Obstructions
This may seem simple, but it’s something that fools millions of homeowners each year. The nozzles of a showerhead aren’t the only place where a blockage can occur.
If you have a handheld shower system or any attachments, you’ll want to check the hoses thoroughly.
In many cases, you should be able to see any blockages that would decrease water pressure and clear them in seconds. These hoses are designed to last for years, although the length of the hose itself can be a problem.
3. Check for Kinks
Hoses that are too long or become kinked will decrease water pressure along with any mechanisms that aren’t fully open.
If you have a diverter valve in the shower, make sure it’s fully open if you want maximum flow from shower heads.
This is a great time to make sure any settings or switches on the head are also functioning and not interfering with water pressure. Some have high-pressure settings or pulsating modes that can be easy to miss.
4. Open Shut-Off Valves
Every plumbing system in a home has shut-off valves, whether you’re renting or a homeowner. It’s something that can be challenging to find as well, considering these valves can be in several locations along the water supply line.
This is a common cause of low water pressure with homeowners who have moved into a new home or had repairs done. If the water was off, there’s a chance whoever turned it back on didn’t give it a full twist.
Most shut-off valves are located in basements, garages, and crawl spaces under homes. They could be easy to identify or a bit harder to locate depending on the plumbing in your home. When you find any of these valves, make sure they are open all the way.
5. Locate Hot Water Heaters and Water Mains
A shut-off valve is also found on the hot water tank, and is easy to locate if it has a red lever. This will cause low hot water pressure in a home. If that isn’t the culprit and the rest of the valves in your home are fully open, it’s time to head outside.
The main shut-off valve to your home is outside and usually protected by a metal cover. This is where the water meter is and how you turn off the water supply to an entire home.
These small lids are easy to remove, but you may need a large wrench or unique tool called a water meter key for the valve.
If the main shut-off valve isn’t open fully, it will cause low water pressure in your shower along with other parts of your home.
6. Remove Flow Restrictors
Did you know a shower head may have a piece of plastic designed to restrict water flow?
They are called a flow restrictor, and it’s something that the previous owner of your home may have already removed. A flow restrictor can also have a pretty dramatic impact with shower pressure.
If you have a new or older showerhead, you can follow the steps in our guide to check for and remove a flow restrictor to increase water pressure.
The process only requires a paperclip or needle-nose pliers once the head is detached and will work on any showerhead. A flow restrictor is found in hoses and other attachments as well.
Depending on the age of the head and its condition, you may have to make a trip to the hardware store if you have a bad O-ring.
7. Change the Shower Head
When all else fails, you can try to upgrade your existing showerhead to one designed to increase as shower’s water pressure.
These heads are incredibly popular in areas with water pressure restrictions but can provide a boost to any bathroom with poor water pressure.
If you have a rainfall style model or a larger shower head, it’s important to remember that it will also cut down on water pressure. Less is more when it comes to size, and you have low water pressure in your home.
The best solution is to buy a high-pressure shower head. These heads increase low water pressure through different methods, and while they can’t work miracles, you should notice a difference.
With that in mind, remember the spray patterns and size. A showerhead like this 3-inch model will put out more water pressure than a larger head with more nozzles.
8. Install a Shower Pump
When none of our methods work or you require a serious boost to increase low water pressure, it’s time to consider a pump to boost low pressure in your shower.
A shower pump is installed onto the water line supply. When the shower is turned on, an impeller in the pump gives it a boost before sending it through your plumbing and into the shower head. The water pressure increase is substantial, but it isn’t without drawbacks.
These in-line pumps that increase shower pressure can cost a few hundred dollars and aren’t a project we consider DIY-friendly for beginners.
In other words, you’ll probably have to call a plumbing professional to install a shower pump, which will increase the overall cost.
The Bottom Line
The tips in our guide are the best ways to increase water pressure in any type of shower. Installing a shower pump should be the last option, although it’s cheaper than completely rerouting your plumbing.
If none of our tips work, the best solution is to call in a plumbing professional to address the cause of weak pressure in your shower.
A plumber can check for water leaks that may cause a decrease in water pressure in your shower or diagnose other issues that could affect the water pressure in the shower.
Do shower head cleaners work better than vinegar?
It depends on how badly the shower head is clogged. Lime scale, calcium, and other mineral deposits can be tough to remove, and certain cleaners will speed things up.
What is the maximum pressure on a regular shower head?
In most areas, the maximum limit is 2.5 gallons per minute. California and other regions with tighter restrictions require low-flow heads at 1.8 GPM.
Can clogged pipes affect water pressure in showers?
Having a clog anywhere in the line will impede water coming to your home or going into the drain system.
Why do I only have low hot water water pressure but not cold water?
That could be a problem with the water heater. They can be drained and flushed or may need to be replaced by a professional depending on the age and condition of the hot water heater.
Will water leaks and leaking pipes cause poor pressure in showers?
Yes, a leak can affect how much pressure a shower receives, but can be hard to find unless water damage is evident.