How To Fix Low Water Pressure In The Shower

A hot shower is all you need after a tedious day at work. But low water pressure can be a real disappointment. 

Luckily, you can fix the low pressure in minutes no matter what caused it. There are plenty of ways to fix it and improve the water flow. 

Below you can read about the reasons for low water pressure, and how to repair and increase it.

How To Test Your Water Pressure? 

Conducting a test to check the water pressure in your shower is quite complicated. You must have the following things for the test: 

  • 1-2 litre measuring jug
  • Calculator
  • Stopwatch

Once you have all the above things, you are ready to test the taps and showers in your home. Here are the steps you need to follow: 

  1. Place the jug under the shower or the tap you are testing. 
  2. Turn on the tap or the shower on full. Also, make sure that you have a stopwatch ready. Press start on the stopwatch at the same time.  
  3. Wait for six seconds, turn the tap off, and press the stop button on the stopwatch.  
  4. To measure the accurate water pressure of your shower or tap, check the amount of water in the jug and multiply the number by 10.
  5. It will give you a water flow rate in litres per minute. For instance, if the water measures to one litre, the pressure will be 1L x 10 = 10L per minute. 

The water pressure needs to be a minimum 10L-per-minute. If it is below 10L, the water pressure will be considered low, and you have to increase it. 

Try bringing it between 10-15 litres per minute. The higher the pressure, the more refreshing will your experience in the shower be. 

How to interpret the results?

Now, you would want to know how to interpret the results you get after the test. Here are what different outcomes mean: 

  • If the water pressure in all the showers and taps is low, you have to repair them or call a plumber for the job. It may be due to a leak, or you may have an undersized supply piping. 
  • In case the cold water pressure is adequate, but the hot one is not or vice versa, there are chances of sediment and limescale build-up in the pipe.
  • If the hot water pressure is lower in only one tap or a shower, the problem lies in that particular one only. 

But what are the reasons for the low water pressure in your shower? 

Reasons For Low Water Pressure in the Shower

There are several reasons why your shower might have low water pressure. Here are the common causes of low water pressure: 

Old Or Blocked Shower Head

An old showerhead is the most common cause of low water pressure. Older versions of showerheads lead to an unpleasant shower, which will only increase the stress level instead of reducing it. 

So, upgrade to a new shower head or fix the older one once in a while. It will help maximize the water flow for refreshing and satisfying showers.  

You might also experience a blocked shower head as it accumulates mineral deposits of water over time. It will decrease the flow and volume of water through the showerhead. You can easily clean it by removing the detachable showerhead. 

Low Mains Water Pressure

The low water pressure in the shower might be due to the low mains water pressure. It is possible that the mains system valve is not fully open, causing low water pressure in your shower. 

Moreover, the main shut off valve or the in-line valves on the water meter might not be closed properly. You can call a qualified plumber who can check the water pressure through the main water supply and help you determine the cause of the low water pressure.  

Since the government is responsible for this central system, it is quite hard to change the piping as it can cause a disruption in the city. 

Damaged Pressure Regulator

If your plumbing has a pressure regulator, it could be one of the reasons for the low water pressure. These regulators help you adjust the pressure to an ideal level that is safe for the pipes. 

Sometimes, this regulator fails to give you an accurate reading of the water flow. You can conduct a test to check whether it is working efficiently or not. 

Attach a pressure gauge to the hose spigot that is closest to the regulator. Once you turn on the water, the pressure gauge will show you a reading of the water pressure. 

If the reading is lower than the one reported by the regulator, the problem is with the regulator. Replace it on your own or call a plumber if you do not know how to deal with water pipes. 

Corroded Pipes

Every type of pipe comes with an expiration date. Some might last for 20 years, while others can work for as long as 70 years. 

With plumbing fixtures come corrosion problems. When you add new plumbing fixtures to your house, you have to expand the pipeline as well. Otherwise, the pipes will corrode faster and cause the low pressure of the water in the shower. 

The problem with corrosion is that you cannot see it from the outside. So, if you are buying a new house, check with the former owners regarding the plumbing.

Leaking Pipes

A leak alone cannot lower the water pressure in your shower. However, it misdirects the water supply that causes low pressure even though other things are working perfectly fine. 

While accessing your water pipes, check whether there are wet spots. Look for the pipe that is leaking and try to fix it.  

Turn off the water supply and let the outside of the pipe dry as much as possible. Wrap a rubber patch around the leaking area of the pipe. Use electrical tape and repair clamp to fix the patch to the pipe properly. 

It is only a temporary fix and will prevent the damage for a few days only. You can call the plumber for this as fixing leaky pipes is not a job for an amateur. They can damage the whole piping system and even pollute the water you drink. 

If the main reason for the low pressure is a leaky pipe, it is highly likely that you are dealing with more than one. And if you are too late, it might cause other problems as well.

Now that you know the reasons for the low water pressure in the shower, you need to learn how to fix and increase it.   

How to increase the water pressure in the shower?

There are many ways to increase the shower water pressure and make your shower more refreshing. Following are a few methods to fix the low water pressure in your shower: 

Cleaning the Shower Head

Residue, limescale, and mineral deposits might block the showerhead with use over time. The flow of water in the shower is interrupted when this happens even while water pressure remains optimal in other taps. 

You must clean the showerhead to fix this problem. The first step is to detach the showerhead and clean the sediment from its insides. The modern ones come with a filter, so you have to remove and clean that too. 

Use a toothbrush or similar tool to clean a showerhead. Make sure to reach every rubber nozzle so that there are no blockages. 

Moreover, if you see a mineral deposit build-up on the showerhead, you need a bowl of vinegar to resolve the issue. Just immerse the showerhead into the bowl and leave it soaking for a few hours. 

Once it is clean, reattach it and turn the water on. If the water pressure is back to normal, you are good to go. Otherwise, you still have to determine the reason for the low pressure in your shower.    

Install a Shower Pump

A shower pump will cost you a little more than any other method on this list. When nothing else works, this might be the best solution to increase the water pressure in your shower. 

A shower pump boosts the pressure as the water flows from the tank to the shower. Even though it costs more than others, it does not mean you cannot afford it. 

Unless you have some experience with pipes and showers, it is better to call a professional to install the shower pump. A plumber might also guide you as to which pump will suit your shower the best. 

You can also ask him for other solutions, depending on the money you are willing to spend on your shower. 

An electric shower can also work fine with a gentler flow than others. But these showers only use cold water, so it takes some time for the water to heat up. 

Install a Pressurized Unvented Cylinder

Installing a shower pump is quick, but a pressurized unvented cylinder is a more effective and durable solution. It involves changing the current plumbing system into a new, efficient one.  

In this method, you have to remove the cold water tank and replace it with a pressurized unvented cylinder powered by the central water system. 

Since it involves the mains system, you have to leave the installation to a plumber or a professional. Sometimes, it even requires you to change the whole plumbing system, which may not be possible without a plumber. 

If you have an old house that needs an upgrade in its water fixtures, install a pressurized unvented cylinder. However, it is also the costliest method as it involves working on the whole system instead of a shower alone. 

Dealing with the Valves

The main shutoff valve is usually in the basement of your house or outside the wall from where the water line enters it. You have to open this valve with a lever or a wheel attached to it. 

It might be the contractor’s fault as they closed the valve and forgot to reopen it. So, if there has been some construction work around your house and the water pressure is low, you have to check the main shutoff valve. 

If your home has a pressure-reducing valve, you have to close it. It has a triangular cap with a screw that might not be closed properly. Use a wrench to turn the screw and tighten it as much as possible. 

After closing it, you can test the water flow in your shower and see if there are any changes in the pressure or not.  

However, pressure-reducing valves get damaged with time. If you have not changed it in years, check whether it looks old. 

Showers during off-hours 

If none of these methods work, you are left with only one solution, shower during off-hours.

When more people are using the water utility, the water pressure will automatically decrease. If your house receives the right amount of water pressure, then the problem lies with your schedule. 

Only take showers when  few people are using the water supply to avoid low water pressure. 

For example, if you have a dishwasher or a washing machine running, do not use the shower as they are consuming a part of your water supply. Likewise, you can expect low pressure in the morning as a lot of people in your neighbourhood are also using water. 

How much does it cost to fix a shower pump?

If you are not an experienced plumber, buying a shower pump will not be an easy task for you. On the other hand, if you know your way around basic tools, you can buy and even install a shower pump without much of an effort.

Replacing a shower pump will cost you around £130 to £160 while installing it for the first time costs about £200. These prices may vary from one location to another, so you should consider several options before selecting one.

When should you call a professional?

Cleaning or replacing a showerhead does not require the hands of a professional. You can easily do it without anyone’s help even if you are an amateur.

However, if you have clogged pipes that cause low pressure all around the house, then you should probably call a professional.

Professionals may also guide you when you want to buy a new shower pump or pressurized unvented cylinder. You may have to call a plumber to install the cylinder as it involves repairing or even replacing the whole piping system.

What is the best way to increase water pressure in your home?

A shower pump would work better than unvented cylinders, electric showers or power showers. It is cheaper than the three and does require much effort to install at home.

You don’t even have to replace any shower parts as it is a quicker solution to the low water pressure problem.

Last Updated on April 11, 2021

David Thompson

Author: David Thompson

Dave has been involved in the UK building sector for over 3 decades and has developed a particular interest in energy efficiency in the home.

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