How to Increase Shower Water Pressure

April 6, 2010 at 11:31 pm 7 comments

There is nothing worse than a low pressure shower. Actually, 1000AwesomeThings said it best, “Not much affects your day every day as much as a good shower.”

In a lot of cases, there is something you can do about it. For example, if a nearby faucet has good pressure then you can probably improve your shower pressure in about 5 minutes.

Modern shower heads contain a flow restriction plate to decrease the amount of water you consume, which saves you money and ensures the city can produce enough clean water for everyone. It’s basically a rubber or Teflon disc that has a small hole in it. The smaller the hole, the less water can travel through it and onto your head. If you want to know what that restrictor looks like, click here to see a 10 pack of them on amazon (great if you own a lot of showers and have a problem with too much pressure).

Sometimes, these flow restrictor get clogged with debris, which reduces the flow further. Other times, they’re too small for your home’s water pressure. In either case, you can remove the restrictor, clean it and put it back in. If it’s not dirty then it may be too restrictive for your water pressure. If that’s the case, you can leave it out entirely or drill the hole so it is slightly larger.

If you want to try it, you’ll need a few things:

  1. Wrench
  2. Teflon Tape (plumbing department)
  3. Paperclip

Here are the steps to remove and replace the shower head:

Use the wrench to thread the shower head off the support pipe that comes out of the wall. You should see two flat sections where the shower head connects to the  support pipe, the wrench should be used to grip those flat sections and turn. Some plastic shower heads will have a gripped collar that you can probably turn by hand.

When you take the shower head off, look into the back of it (where the water flows in). You should see a small disc, usually white, black or red and made of rubber or Teflon (the smooth plastic that is on the bottom corners of your computer mouse). This is the flow restrictor disc. In most cases, it will be the only thing you can see that is removable.

There is a chance that you don’t have one, especially if the shower head is fairly old… in that case, jump to the instructions for re-attaching the shower head (there is one step you will miss if you’ve never done this before).

If you followed my advice in another post and ordered a $2 set of dental tools, then use the dental pick to remove the flow restrictor disc. If you don’t have a pick, then use something similar like a paperclip or needle nose pliers.

Once you have removed the disc, inspect it. If there is any debris blocking the hole(s) then clean it. Otherwise, you might want to try the head without the restrictor to check the pressure. If it is more than enough pressure, you may want to drill the holes larger in the restrictor and place it back in the shower head to slightly increase the water flow. If you put the disc back in, put it in the way you found it.

Now, look at the thread on the support pipe. It probably has some Teflon tape on it (usually white), remove it by finding the end and unwrapping, or use a steal brush to get it off. Now, wrap the support pipe thread with new Teflon tape. Avoid covering the first couple threads and do 3-6 wraps (depending on the thickness of your tape). Teflon tape will give the connection a tight seal so it doesn’t leak. You can get Teflon tape at any hardware store and even some department stores that have a small plumbing section.

Now, put the shower head back on and tighten it (same as it was when you loosened it). Then try running the water slowly, if it’s leaking at the thread then you didn’t tighten the head all the way or you didn’t use enough Teflon tape — try those two steps again.

If it’s not leaking then you should have lots of water pressure. Keep in mind that your water consumption will increase and plumbing should only be attempted by capable people.

Broken Secrets

Written By: Chad Upton

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Entry filed under: Around The House, Be Efficient, Be Frugal, Be Green, Hacks. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Maureen Bingham  |  April 15, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    My friend Barb, a friend of Chad’s parents, directed me to this site. I love it. You are capitalizing on what I call your “making toast” list. People don’t give themselves enough credit for knowledge and skills they have that seem like common sense to them. They also assume that others have the same set of knowledge and skills and then are disappointed when they don’t. You are sharing your knowledge in a non-judgmental and friendly way. Some will think it is is “nothing” – it is already on their making toast list. Others will scream “eureka!” and rave on about the amazing “secret” they just learned. Both benefit. The first group get to puff out their chests and say “I already knew that”. The second group learn something useful for for everyday life.

  • 2. cole  |  April 15, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    I just did this myself about a week ago but didn’t have to tape it up. We still have no leaks

  • 3. Rrrowlf  |  June 19, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    You can thank your liberal treehugger friends for this little invasion. The fact is that water is free. It falls from the sky, and most cities have expensive, complicated sewer systems to get rid of it.
    If you don’t live in a desert, you do not need one of these.
    Thank you for telling people about this. You Sir, do a service for us all.

    • 4. chriscp  |  September 24, 2013 at 2:21 pm

      You don’t have to live in a desert to experience a drought. Or see the water level in a river drop dramatically over a short period of time. There’s one extreme, which is what you’re griping about and then there’s the other extreme, which leads to the extreme you’re griping about. Water is not free, btw, in many places. Cities actually CHARGE for it unless you have a well on your property. Do you have a well on your property?

    • 5. H2O  |  July 7, 2017 at 6:26 pm

      water is free? hahaha

  • 6. Raymond  |  June 13, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    This is too simple,not really make much changes,I mean the one from the hot heater shower head that come without a pressure pump.I have increase the pressure many times by letting go those air traps inside the water pipes in the heater,usually i will reverse the waterflow by taking out the inlet pipe ,then flush out the air inside the system.Then when i fix it back and it will increase the water flow,do it occasionally and must switch off the electric power when doing it.

  • 7. Ted  |  February 24, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    Thanks! I was able to take out my old restrictors, but this new Waterpik looked different. I wanted to make sure I can drill it out so I am glad you had a picture of the restrictor on your site. The drill actually pulled out the restrictor, so now I have much better flow! Stupid idea for the restrictor… more flow = quicker showers!


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