Why Your Shower Pressure Is Low and How To Fix It
Having a low-pressure shower is one of the most frustrating problems to have as a homeowner. Low shower pressure can be difficult to troubleshoot. Sometimes the problem is in the shower head itself. Other times, the pressure problem extends throughout your entire plumbing system.
In this guide, we’ll give you some tips to help you figure out the cause of your pressure problem. You’ll be able to determine the source of the low pressure and whether or not you should tackle the issue yourself or call a plumber.
Test Your Other Plumbing Fixtures
Because taking a low-pressure shower is such an unpleasant experience, it might be the only place you notice the pressure loss. Just to be sure, go around and try out your other fixtures. If the pressure seems low in your kitchen sink, chances are there’s a bigger issue than just your shower. Luckily, there are steps you can take to tackle low water pressure in your entire home.
If You Have Pressure Issues in Other Places
1. Make sure your water main shutoff valve is fully open.
The water main is the pipe that carries water from you local supplier or well into your home. Locate your water main and look for the shutoff valve. There are two types of valves – a ball-valve, which is lever-shaped, and a gate-valve, which is shaped like a wheel. If you have a ball-valve, you want the lever to be perfectly parallel to the water main pipe. If you have a gate-valve, you want to turn it completely counter-clockwise to open it up.
2. Run your cold and hot water separately.
This is going to help you find out if you have a problem with your water heater. If your water heater is starting to break down, the hot water pressure will drop while the cold water pressure remains at a normal level. Give it a try on your shower and the other fixtures in your home. If the hot water flows at a weaker level than the cold water, you’ll want to contact a plumber about troubleshooting your water heater.
3. Adjust your pressure reducing valve.
Pressure reducing valves, or PRVs, are common in homes that are hooked up to municipal water lines. Water suppliers pump out water at really high pressures — too much pressure for household plumbing systems to handle. PRVs counter this by reducing the water pressure as it enters your home through the water main. Sometimes, PRVs can be set at lower pressures than we’d expect. Here’s how to adjust your PRV:
- PRVs have a nut on the top that’s used to adjust the pressure. You’ll need a socket wrench to rotate the nut.
- Turn the nut clockwise to increase the pressure.
- Be careful about setting the pressure too high. Household fixtures are designed to operate under 40-60 psi. If you go any higher than that, you could end up damaging your fixtures or appliances.
4. Have your pipes inspected.
Sometimes pressure problems are due to buildup of minerals and sediment in pipes. Older homes that have galvanized steel pipes are more susceptible than newer homes. Making an appointment with a professional to have your pipe network inspected and cleaned can fix your pressure issues and increase the longevity of your pipes. You might just get that high-pressure shower you’ve been dreaming of.
5. You might have a small leak.
Small leaks in hard to spot places can cause dips in water pressure. There’s a couple ways you can find out if you have an undetected leak:
- Use your water meter. Make sure all your water appliances and fixtures are completely turned off. Locate your water meter and write down the reading. Wait for half an hour, and make sure not to turn on any faucets or appliances. Return to the water meter and look at the reading. If it’s gone up at all since you first checked it, you know you have a leak.
- Get smart about leak detection. You can get 24/7 leak detection with the Flo by Moen device. The Flo by Moen device is installed on your water main and constantly checks your entire plumbing network for leaks, changes in pressure and water usage. It’ll detect the smallest of leaks and send a notification to your smart phone.
If the Low-Pressure is Isolated to Your Shower
1. Clean or replace your showerhead.
Shower heads can get clogged up just like the rest of your plumbing system. You can clean a clogged up shower head, or you could use this as an opportunity to invest in a newer, nicer model. Run your shower and take a look at the water flowing out of the shower head. Are some of the individual nozzles clogged up or shooting water out in different directions? If they are, turn off the water and remove the shower head.You’ll need a large container and a gallon of distilled white vinegar. Soak the shower head in the vinegar overnight. The vinegar will remove the mineral buildup that is clogging the shower head. After 8-12 hours of soaking, re-install the shower head and turn on the water. If the pressure seems more normal, you’re good to go.
2. Do you have a low-flow shower head?
In many places, there are laws that regulate the amount of flow in shower heads. These are called “low-flow” shower heads. Some of the older models provide a pretty pitiful shower experience. If you live in a low-flow area, a simple upgrade might make for a better shower experience.
Sometimes a low-pressure shower problem is an easy fix. In some cases, it’s a sign of a larger problem that you need to address. Either way, it’s a problem you don’t have to live with. Once you determine what’s causing the drop in pressure, you should be able to take the appropriate steps to get your water pressure back to a normal level.