Fixing Low Water Pressure in Your Shower: Don’t Start Your Day with a Dribble
If you start your day with a shower, chances are you’re at least partially relying on it waking you up. You’re not alone.
However, if you suffer from low water pressure, then it’s not doing the job properly. The problem isn’t always to do with the house and the pipes; in fact, you may be putting up with sub-par pressure when a simple fix or equipment swap can solve all your problems.
Turning up the pressure in a weak shower can be that simple, provided you know the cause of the weakness in the first place.
Blame the Shower Head
By law, many shower heads are designed to lessen the flow of water in order to deliver only a certain amount per minute. This is all well and good, but many times the principle might be taken a bit too far resulting in low water pressure. A simple way to counter this is to purchase a new shower head – they’re inexpensive items – and look for the washer inside. This is designed to restrict the water flow, but you can widen this with a drill until the water flows properly.
This may solve the problem of a stingy showerhead, but if there’s an actual problem you might have to dig deeper. The head is the first place to look if you’re having pressure problems. Often the inside can become clogged, and this requires removing the head and cleaning out whatever may be causing the blockage. Showerheads are usually easy to screw off and on, and don’t require a multitude of special tools.
If clearing the showerhead doesn’t produce results, then the problem may be with the pipe itself. A galvanised pipe is one that is coated in molten-zinc, and they are often no longer used in newer homes. This is because over time, they may corrode and causes leakages, which can lead to most of the water escaping before it even gets to your shower. The zinc in the pipe will corrode and rust, falling off the walls of the pipe and blocking the way. This may lead to water with a faint tinge of copper, as the flow has to pass through mounds of rusted metal.
This isn’t particularly harmful to your health, but it needs fixing, and more importantly the build-up can block the flow of water. This is a problem that goes much deeper than simple replacement; in fact, if you want your shower back into form, you may need to call in a professional to deal with the pipes.
All galvanised pipes need replacing after 30-40 years, and they have long been overtaken by other materials, such as copper. If your shower pressure is fading and you want to assess what type of pipes your have in your home, you can find a pipe and apply a scratch test. When scratched, a copper pipe comes up (obviously) copper in colour, while a galvanised pipe will be more of a silver grey colour. Since copper pipes manage to avoid rust and build-up, if you find yourself with galvanised pipes and low water pressure, it’s almost certain that you have a rust problem. This will be made especially obvious by orange rust forming on the outside of the pipes.
Ending Your Low-Pressure Problem
Again, rust inside the pipes isn’t especially harmful; you may wish to install tap filters for drinking water, but otherwise you can keep using water in the same way as you have been. This is only short-term, however, and you’ll eventually need to have the pipes replaced, especially if your shower is suffering from low-pressure. Different pipes suit different types of houses, with copper being appropriate in some cases and other materials – polyethylene, for example – suiting others.
In any case, there are only a few things that can cause unsatisfactory pressure in a shower. If the problem goes beyond a faulty showerhead, you may need to call in a professional plumber – but at least you can determine the cause of the problem yourself, and know exactly what needs to be done.