Any loss in shower water pressure is an annoyance, even if it’s just a short disruption due to a flushed toilet. And, of course, it’s much worse if it’s a chronic problem that makes your shower experience uncomfortable. There are several ways of fixing and preventing this common problem, but they vary depending on the root cause. Learn more about how to increase hot water pressure in the shower and avoid the most common culprits.
Common Culprits of Lost Water Pressure in the Shower
Shower Mixing Valve Problems
Cause: If you have a pressure balance shower valve, problems with low water pressure are likely to occur when using other nearby fixtures. The classic example is when a toilet flushes, low water pressure and temperature changes occur.
This is because this type of valve mixes hot and cold water together at a certain pressure level. So, when the toilet flushes, cold water is diverted to refill the tank, which then causes a pressure drop in the cold water line. Because it takes a pressure balancing valve a couple of seconds to adjust, the shower water may suddenly turn very hot because the valve isn’t getting all the cold water it needs. Then when the valve adjusts, it reduces the pressure coming from the hot water line, resulting in an overall drop in pressure.
How To Avoid It: Install a thermostatic mixing valve. This valve offers separate controls for water temperature and pressure, so you won’t ever have to worry about a toilet flush causing low water pressure. Call your trusted plumber to ask about upgrading to one of these valves.
Malfunctioning Diverter Valve
Cause: If you have a bathtub and shower combo, you probably have a diverter valve. This knob or switch diverts water from the bathtub faucet up to the showerhead. Over time, these valves can malfunction or break, causing them not to send full water pressure to the showerhead. This often results in water flowing at full pressure from the bathtub, but not the showerhead.
How To Avoid It: Have a plumber confirm this diagnosis and complete the repair with a replacement diverter valve.
Water Pressure Reduction Valve Needs Adjustment
Cause: When your water pressure problem affects all of the fixtures in your home, the cause could be close to the water source. In some homes, a device called a water pressure reduction valve is connected to the main water line near where it enters the house.
How To Avoid It: This valve can malfunction, break or fall out of adjustment, and all three are jobs for a professional plumber.
Broken or Obstructed Pipe
Cause: The worst possible cause of a shower pressure drop is a broken pipe, since the resulting leak could seriously damage an unseen area of your home. If you can hear water running when and where it shouldn’t be, or if you suddenly notice dripping or water stains, shut off your water supply at the main valve and call a plumber for emergency service right away.
How To Avoid It: Poor maintenance, system clogs, tree root obstruction, natural deterioration, and more are all potential reasons for a broken or leaking pipe. Keep up with regular pipe maintenance and avoid sending any harmful or obstructive items down the drain.
Related Content: Common Household Items That Should Never Go Down Your Drain
Clogged Pipe or Showerhead
Cause: The best-case scenario is that your showerhead is simply dirty and clogged. To get a closer look, unscrew your shower head from the wall if possible. You may want to soak it in an appropriate cleaning solution for several minutes before cleaning all the nozzles thoroughly with an old toothbrush.
If you live in an area with hard water, you may also have mineral deposit accumulation inside your pipes. This gradually reduces water flow and will eventually have a noticeable effect on water pressure.
How To Avoid It: This problem can be avoided by installing a water-softening system, but badly clogged pipes may need to be professionally cleaned or replaced.
How to Add Pressure to a Shower
If resolving these issues still doesn’t result in your desired water pressure levels, try adding one or more of these solutions to your list:
- Regularly clean and remove scale buildup
- Replace your showerhead
- Have your water heater serviced
- Install a shower pump