There are few better ways to start or end a day than with a nice shower. A strong, invigorating stream of water against the skin does more than get you clean; it's an antidote to the troubles of the day. That's why it's so frustrating when you open up the valve and only a dribble comes out. You spend twice as long rinsing off and enjoy it half as much. But is it worth it to call a plumber? Fortunately, fixing low water flow doesn't always require an expensive visit from a plumber.
Here are a few of the most common reasons why water flow might be low and how to fix them:
The fixture is blocked
Hopefully, you'll need to look no further for the cause of the weak stream than the shower fixture itself. If you have a hand shower, check the hose for kinks and carefully untwist it if it is restricted. If that's not the problem, unscrew the showerhead, remove the filter if there is one, and scrub the whole fixture. If you see mineral buildup from hard water, soak the fixture in a bowl of vinegar overnight before scrubbing it. Then reassemble the showerhead and check to see whether the problem is solved.
Your shower is low flow on purpose
In recent years, a number of eco-friendly flow-restricting options have been available for shower fixtures. Luckily, it's easy to remove a green showerhead, replace it with a traditional one and keep the low-flow one on a shelf until the next time there's a water-use restriction. Conversely, you may consider replacing it with a newer low-flow one because recent models have higher pressure. Another green improvement to check for is a flow restrictor, which is located inside the showerhead; consult the manual to find out where exactly it is and how to remove it.
A valve is shut
If the problem isn't in the showerhead, there may be a problem with a valve somewhere in the pipe system. Make sure that the main shutoff valve, water meter valve, all inline valves, and the water mixing and diverter valves in the shower are all completely open. If any valves are worn out, rusted in place or otherwise damaged, don't try to replace them yourself. Call a plumber.
A pipe is leaking
If none of that fixes the problem, then the problem likely isn't in the shower itself. Check to make sure no pipes are corroded or leaking at the seams. Check along your pipes for any visible defects or suspicious moisture or puddles. If you find any, call a plumber.
Have your water heater checked
If your water pressure is low only when you turn on the hot water, you may have a water heater problem. Do not try to fix a water heater problem without expert help, and be prepared to spend some money if the heater needs replacing.
Life is too short to take unsatisfying showers, especially when many common shower issues can be fixed in a weekend with a bit of effort. Try troubleshooting your low-pressure shower today.