Water temperature and water pressure have a lot to do with whether taking a shower is an enjoyable experience or a frustrating one. While it is easy to control the temperature of your shower, it is more difficult to adjust the water pressure.
The biggest complaint many people have about water pressure is a lack thereof, especially when taking a shower. Not enough water pressure and it becomes a challenge to rinse soap and shampoo off, and although this problem isn’t life or death, it is frustrating.
The good news is that if you are experiencing a sudden change in water pressure when you’re taking a shower, there are several things you can try to get a more consistent flow of water. Read on to discover what might be causing the problem and what you can do to fix it.
What Can Cause Fluctuating Water Pressure
Fluctuating water pressure has many different causes, and you will need to do some detective work to find out the exact reason. Here below, I have set out the most common culprits.
Multiple Faucets Running Simultaneously
If you have several people living in your household, you may have this problem. You may be taking a shower and someone else could be doing the dishes or flushing the toilet. Running a number of appliances (such as the washer, dishwasher, shower, toilet, outdoor hose) all at the same time is the most common reason for experiencing a sudden loss of water pressure when showering. The best way to combat this issue is to let everyone know you are taking a shower. Ask them to avoid using any other water source until you are done.
Poor Installation of Washer or Dishwasher
If an appliance that uses water is installed incorrectly, it might affect other water sources connected to your home’s plumbing such as the washer, dishwasher, and water heater. If you aren’t sure how to install these appliances yourself, it’s a good idea to consult a professional to check they are in good working order and have been plumbed in correctly.
Clogged Or Leaking Plumbing System
If there is a clog or leak in a pipe or somewhere else along your home’s plumbing system, it will affect any faucet or appliance connected to it. Even a small leak under the bathroom sink or worse – a clog in the toilet, will all affect water pressure when taking a shower.
Calcium Build-up in Pipes or Fixtures
If you have hard water, calcium, and other minerals can cause a buildup on and in fixtures, and this can lead to a decrease in water pressure. When this is the cause of your showering woes, don’t try to dissolve or remove the buildup using chemicals as they can be dangerous for you and the environment. Instead, call a plumber to get rid of the calcium safely.
Water Valves Not Fully Open
Your home’s main water valve controls how much water enters your home. If this valve isn’t open enough or is otherwise damaged, it may lead to water pressure problems. If you notice that your home’s main water valve isn’t open all the way, don’t attempt to open it more yourself as this may increase the pressure too much and cause even greater problems.
Broken Pressure Regulator
Many homes are installed with a regulator that helps to keep the water pressure inside the home from getting too high and can prevent damage to pipes and appliances. If this regulator becomes worn out or is broken, you will likely need a plumber to assess and potentially replace it for you.
Water Heater Failing
When sediment builds up inside the water heating tank, it’s capacity and efficiency can be reduced significantly, especially when it comes to delivering a good supply of hot water when taking a shower. Furthermore, problems with the heater’s thermostat or heating element can also cause a drop in water pressure.
Shower Head Flow Restrictor Faulty
The flow restrictor in your shower head is designed to limit the amount of water that passes through, thus helping to conserve water. When it’s faulty, broken or clogged with mineral deposits, it may restrict too much or too little water, causing a drop in water pressure.
Trapped Air In Pipes
It is not uncommon for air to become trapped inside a home’s plumbing system. Sometimes, this trapped air can cause fluctuations or significant increases in pressure.
How To Identify High or Low Water Pressure
Most plumbers recommend checking your home’s water pressure a couple of times a year. You can do this using a standard pressure gauge found at any home improvement store. Some homes will have a gauge installed somewhere along the plumbing system so that the owner can check their water pressure quickly and easily with just a glance.
Most plumbing experts agree that residential properties should have a water pressure reading that falls between 30 and 80 psi (pounds per square inch). Ideally, for optimal shower-taking, you should shoot for a reading somewhere between 60-70 psi.
Ways to Increase Water Pressure in Your Shower
If you feel your shower has become little more than a trickle of water, there are a few things you can try to boost the pressure.
1. Clean The Showerhead
A mineral buildup might be restricting the water flow from your showerhead. To clean it, soak it in distilled white vinegar for several hours and then rinse it with clean water.
2. Remove the Water Restrictor
Some showerheads have a water restrictor that limits the amount of water that flows through them. While this is great for conserving water, it does little for creating an enjoyable shower. You can either remove the restrictor or replace the showerhead with a less restrictive model.
3. Replace The Shower Hose
Just as the showerhead can become blocked with mineral deposits, so can the hose attached to it. Replacing this hose is as simple as unscrewing the old one and screwing on a new one.
4. Check The Water Shut-Off Valve is Fully Open
If the valve to your home’s main water supply is not fully open, pressure problems can arise. It’s not a good idea to adjust this valve yourself as it could increase the pressure too much, leading to even bigger problems. If you suspect an issue with the mains supply water valve, contact a plumber for assistance in checking and adjusting it.
5. Perform Single Variable Pressure Tests
Other water sources or appliances that use water may be affecting how well your shower performs. While it is a good idea to avoid using other water sources when someone in the household is showering, this isn’t always possible. Take time to identify which appliances cause the most problems when showering by conducting a single variable pressure test.
To conduct this test, turn on the shower. While it is running, turn on other water sources – one at a time – to see how each affects the water flow in the shower. Remember, running multiple water sources at once can diminish water pressure, but using this test can help you identify which ones you should avoid using when someone is showering.
6. Call A Plumber To Inspect the Whole System
When showering, sudden changes in water pressure are common and somewhat difficult to diagnose. There are many reasons why the supply of water through your home plumbing system can be affected and if you have considered all of the above and still can’t figure it out yourself, or aren’t comfortable with diagnosing plumbing issues, call in a reputable plumber to handle it.
You may also be interested in reading Shower or Kitchen Faucet Won’t Turn Off? You Can Handle it
As a retired Master Plumber Jamie has over 30 years of hands-on experience, making his plumbing knowledge second to none. He has also worked on both residential and commercial HVAC installation and repair projects.