How do I increase water pressure in my shower
Updated: Jun 3, 2020
Probably, we’ve all experienced a beautifully refreshing and invigorating shower either in the morning or after some really sweaty exercise. There’s really nothing quite like it.
So, when the water flow rate drops off for some reason, we certainly notice the change. It might gradually become worse over a long period of time. If that’s the case, we won’t actually notice it until there’s barely a trickle. Alternatively, it might happen suddenly, causing us to think that maybe the shower has broken.
You might live in a neighbourhood that has naturally low or fluctuating water pressure. In this case, you can replace your shower with one that has either a built-in pump or one that pumps water from storage tanks.
How about if you use an electric shower? Most modern ones are ok if you’ve got low water pressure as they are designed to work over a large pressure range, but there are exceptions to the rule. If this sounds familiar, you can buy electric showers with a built-in pump in case your pressure falls outside this range.
Any of these situations are a pain in the neck, but what do we do next?
How ‘low’ is ‘low water pressure’?
To be honest, if you’re not happy with your water pressure then get it sorted out. But, if you want to put a number to it, you can easily work it out yourself by measuring the flow rate.
Go to your kitchen cupboards and find a measuring jug. If you haven’t got one of those, use an empty 1 litre milk carton or something similar.
Turn on the shower to its maximum.
Measure the time taken to fill the 1 litre container.
If it takes longer than 6 seconds to fill 1 litre (10 litres per minute) then you have serious water pressure problems. Obviously, a faster flow rate would be ideal, but 6 seconds per litre is the slowest.
How do we fix this?
Before you jump to the worst possible conclusion, there are a few simple remedies you can try to increase the shower pressure. You never know, one of them might work! But after you’ve tried them all you might decide that your shower head has broken. In which case, you’ll have to buy a new one.
Anyway, let's take each of these in turn. We’ll walk you through the possible causes and discuss those remedies we mentioned.
Have you got a dirty showerhead and hose?
We’ll talk about this one first because it’s probably the most likely cause, and often we forget to check the simplest solution. It’s normal for a showerhead to accumulate dirt, grit, rust particles and limescale over time. You might even see some slime in there too. Unfortunately, these solid particles are a lovely breeding ground for all kinds of bacteria so it's worthwhile cleaning your shower head even if you don’t experience a pressure drop.
Now, you can buy many different specialist cleaning liquids from your local supermarket. All these work great but if you intend to clean the showerhead regularly they can work out very expensive.
Instead, just unscrew your shower head and hose and soak them overnight in a bowl of vinegar. Next morning, rinse the equipment and if you see any remaining deposits, dislodge them with a pin or a cocktail stick. I won’t go any further describing this because it’s the subject of another article in The Reservoir, The StoneStream Professional Knowledge database. So, if you want to do it properly, this is well worth a read.
If you’ve tried the vinegar trick, and your showerhead is still clogged then it’s probably time to buy a new one. While you’re at it, don’t forget to get a new hose too. Many people buy a new showerhead and forget that their existing hose is probably blocked as well.
Check the showerhead’s settings
Sometimes your showerhead might have a water-saving feature. Now, this one won’t just creep up on you. It’s most noticeable when you move into a new place and you realise the shower doesn’t perform like your old one. Maybe the previous resident fitted a water-saving showerhead to reduce the flowrate and save water. Yes, these are much better for the environment and your water bills, but they rarely give a satisfying shower.
You might have a low flow rate showerhead already installed that needs to be reset. These have a flow restrictor fitted inside that is basically a small hole through which the water flows. The restrictors have varying sized holes available for you to choose the correct water velocity depending on your flow rate (a bit like putting your thumb over the end of a hosepipe). One of these settings is the reset option. Choose this setting to allow the water to flow with no restriction.
You might have another type installed. This is a showerhead, designed to increase the water velocity by injecting air into the water stream while using the same volume of water. You should check that this showerhead is on the correct setting too.
Check the water valves in your property
OK, you’ve tried the previous two potential solutions and neither of them will increase the apparent shower pressure.
Next, you need to check the various valves associated with the water supply to the shower. You should check the shower isolation valve, the mains valve and the mains stopcock. We’ll talk about these next so you know which ones we mean. Look at each and ensure they’re fully open.
Shower isolation valve
Every appliance in your home (in this case, we’re talking about the shower) has its own valve that allows you to isolate it from the mains water. Usually, it won’t be far along the water pipe from the shower and might be behind a removable panel or even in full view. The valve itself might have a knob to turn by hand or more frequently it’ll have a slot for a screwdriver to turn. Whichever one you have, make sure it's fully open. The knob turns fully counter-clockwise while the screw slot should be inline with the pipe.
Water enters your home here and isolates the whole house from the mains water. It’s often found under the kitchen sink. Once again, open it fully counter-clockwise.
This is usually where you find your water meter and the water supply company hands over responsibility for the water to you. It’s found outside under a small square or oval-shaped metal plate set in the ground. It may be just inside your boundary or just outside on the public footpath. Once again ensure it’s fully open.
Call a plumber
OK, by this time you’ve either found the problem and fixed it or you’re probably pulling your hair out because you’ve run out of options.
Now is the time to call a plumber. If he or she is any good, they’ll track down the problem and sort things out. Before you know it, they’ll either increase water pressure to the shower or will know how to go about doing it, probably by installing a water pump.
Keep your plumbing free from impurities
So, remember to keep your mains water and domestic plumbing free from contaminants such as rust, limescale and other unwanted substances. You can do this by
Installing water conditioners and filters at appropriate locations.
Keep water softeners filled with the manufacturer’s recommended chemicals.
Ensure filters are rinsed or changed regularly to prevent clogging.
Keep your plumbing free from obstructions and blockages; ensure all valves that should be open, are open; and use the appropriate conditioning equipment. If you do these, you’ll have done everything you can to ensure your domestic water pressure is as high as it can be.
For any other low water pressure situation, you can buy attachments to increase the water velocity from your taps and showerhead. Except for a water pump which actually does improve your water pressure, these increase the water velocity. They therefore give the impression that you have a higher pressure. Remember the analogy of putting your thumb over the end of the garden hose, it works like that.
Our range of high water flow rate showerheads that contain a built-in polypropylene filter or three different kinds of mineral filtration stones tailored to your specific water problem. You’ll find they filter most types of impurities from your water depending on your water type and the age of your plumbing. You might have limescale, rust, grit, sand and all kinds of particles floating around your pipes, but using a filtered showerhead will certainly prevent clogging. They are thermally efficient to save money on utility bills and will increase water flow rate by up to 200%. Using one of these will certainly increase the water velocity and make it feel like the shower water pressure has improved.