How to fix a low pressure shower?

Low water pressure in your shower? Here are the common causes and how to fix it.

Struggling with not enough water pressure? Battling to get the soap out your hair in a trickle of water? – We’ve all been there; we would recommend avoiding the conditioner at this point – that’s a slippery slope.

We understand the frustration of low water pressure in the shower. There are several common causes; although most can be easily fixed, low water pressure can also suggest a wider plumbing issue within your home.

In this article, we cover how to measure the water pressure of your bathroom fixtures and see if the low-water pressure is isolated to the bathroom, as well as how to get to the root cause and solve the issue.  

Measure the water pressure of my bathroom fixtures

A good water pressure is between 10-15 Litres of water per minute – anything below 10L is classed as low. Follow the steps below to measure your water pressure:

  1. Ensure all the taps in your house and appliances that use water (dishwasher and washing machine) aren’t on/in use – if several are on at the same time, this can impact the flow of water.
  2. Place a 1L measuring jug under your tap. If measuring from shower, hold showerhead over the measuring jug.
  3. Get a timer ready to time 6 seconds
  4. Turn the tap/shower on full and start the timer.
  5. If the 6 second timer goes off and your jug is not full this indicates, you have low water pressure.
  6. Use the following calculation to determine your water rate:

Quantity of water filled in 6 seconds x 10 = Number of Litres per minute.

Example: You filled 800ml in 6 seconds, the calculation would be:

0.8 x 10 = 8L per minute

(This is below the recommended 10L per minute)

First things first – let’s determine if it’s an isolated issue

Is the water pressure affected anywhere else in your house?

If there is a sudden change in the water pressure in your house, it’s worthwhile to check if your neighbours are experiencing the same issue – your local water provider maybe fixing issues in the area, impacting water supply.

If the water pressure is low throughout the house, this can also signify a blockage, corroded pipes, or a hidden leak.

Do the sink taps in the same bathroom have a low water pressure too?

If there is only low pressure in the bathroom (sinks and shower) this can indicate an issue in the pipes supplying water to your bathroom i.e. a blockage or valve that is not properly opened.  

Is the pressure low for both hot and cold temperatures?

If only the hot water pressure is affected this can be due to limescale or sediment build up in the shower head, taps, or temperature valve. Could also be due to a worn valve, a valve restricting the flow of water, or an issue with your water heater.

Common causes of low-pressure in showers and how to fix them.

Build-up of sediment or limescale

If you’re in an area with hard water (water containing high levels of minerals including calcium and magnesium) you can get a build-up of limescale, a chalky, white sediment often visible around taps and bathroom fixtures.  

If your shower water pressure is low, check the shower head for a build-up of limescale. To resolve this issue, you’ll need:

  • White vinegar
  • Plastic bag or bucket
  • Rubber band or tie
  1. Detach your shower head from the shower hose and if you can, de-assemble so you can also clean inside.
  2. Fill either a sealable plastic bag or a bucket with equal measures of white vinegar to water (enough to submerge/full cover the shower head). If you have a non-detachable/fixed shower head, fill a plastic bag with equal measure of white vinegar to water – enough to cover the shower head.
  3. Tie the bag to the pipe attaching the showerhead to the wall with an elastic band, string, or tie, ensuring it is secure and holds.
  4. Leave the shower head in the mixture overnight (note: if you’re shower head is either brass, nickel, or gold-coated – avoid using limescale remover or vinegar mixture as they can damage the finish).
  5. Once the showerhead has been soaked in the vinegar mixture, rinse with warm soapy water.
  6. Re-assemble and attach the showerhead to the shower hose.
  7. Clean your showerhead 1-2 times a month to prevent the build-up of limescale and improve the flow of water.

If the limescale on your shower is severe, use a limescale remover – if this is ineffective, you may need to replace your shower head.

Type of shower head

You may have a water-saving showerhead or the water restrictive valve in the showerhead may be restricting the flow of water. These are designed to save water however, the valve may be restricting the water too much, particularly if you live in an area with lower water pressure.

  1. You may be able to adjust the restrictive valve - it is not recommended for the valve to be removed completely.
  2. If your restrictive valve can’t be adjusted, you may need to replace your showerhead to improve the flow of water.

Valves partially closed or worn

If your shower pressure is only impacted with hot temperatures your shower valve or mixing-valve maybe worn and need replacing.

Check your stopcock is completely open – if you have recently had work done/or turned your water off, it may not have been completely opened again.

  • The T-bar handle of the internal stopcock should be in line with the pipe if its open.

Pipe blockage, corrosion, or a leak

If you have low water pressure throughout your house and you’ve checked your internal stopcock is open, there aren’t any water issues in your local area, you may have:

  1. A hidden leak
  2. Blockage in your pipes
  3. Corrosion in your pipes (can be common in houses with very old piping).

When is it time to bring in a professional?

As we explored above, there are a few causes of low shower pressure you can fix yourself by cleaning or replacing the showerhead and checking valves are operating correctly.

However, if you have a blocked water pipe, suspected or visible leak, an issue that hasn’t been resolved using the above steps or a home emergency, it’s time to call a professional to ensure your safety and protect your home.

At SES Home Services we pride ourselves on being your trusted local plumbers and employing the friendliest local experts to fix your heating and drains problems. We are accredited with a number industry recognitions.

Book an Engineer Appointment today with just a few clicks on our online booking platform, Clik2Fix if you need help with home maintenance issues or home emergencies. Our staff are on hand to support you and provide excellent service in the Kent, Sussex, Surrey and London area.

Or give us a call on 0208 722 7072 and one of our knowledgeable team will assist you in booking an engineer appointment.

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