How to improve low water pressure in your shower | America's Preferred Home Warranty Skip to main content

How to improve low water pressure in your shower

Water comes down from a white showerhead with blue nozzles that is mounted to a gray tiled bathroom wall

Many of us hit the shower to rinse off another busy day or start the next one anew, but nothing can throw a wrench in your daily routine like low water pressure. Take that wrench and fix it with these easy DIY solutions!    

Pro Tip: Refer to your owner’s manual for the best understanding of your plumbing and shower accessories. When in doubt, call a professional. 

What causes low water pressure in your shower?   

There are several components of your shower’s plumbing, many of which can cause low shower water pressure. Before you get started, make sure the plumbing routed to your toilet and bathroom sink are also in good working order. 

Four main causes of low water pressure 

Now that we’ve cleared other potential contributors, let’s investigate the four main causes of low water pressure and how we can handle them. 

Four factors for low water pressure  

  • Hard water
  • Narrow pipes
  • (Partially) closed valves
  • Full or crooked shower filters

Reasons for a blocked showerhead

The causes above can all contribute to low water pressure through different kinds of blockages. Hard water can leave mineral deposits, which can limit the amount of water than can flow through at any given time. Narrow pipes (which are often found in older homes) can see a buildup of mineral deposits, rust, and debris, restricting water’s ability to pass through your home’s plumbing.

You may also notice water flow issues stemming from valves that need to be opened. Start with the one closest to the showerhead and work your way back to the main plumbing line (You may need the help of a professional for this). Additionally, you may have a shower filter that needs to be repositioned or replaced. Once you’ve measured your water pressure, you’ll have a starting point for the upcoming solutions. 

How to test water pressure 

Testing your shower’s water pressure is quick and easy. Grab a bucket (know how many gallons it can hold) and a timer, and let’s get started!

  • Step 1: Turn on your shower 
  • Step 2: Let it run for 60 seconds
  • Step 3: Put the bucket under the stream of water until it becomes full.
  • Step 4: Divide the gallon capacity of your bucket by the time it took to fill it (e.g., 5 gallons divided by 4 minutes = 1.25 gallons per minute (GPM).

The goal is a flow rate of 1.5-2.5 gallons per minute (GPM). You may be tempted to go for a more forceful  water pressure, but anything over 2.5 GPM could be uncomfortable on your body and on your wallet, as the excess usage could spike your water bill. 

A group of cleaning items including vinegar and baking soda

Low water pressure solutions

Once you’ve isolated the issue and determined your shower’s flow rate, take the following DIY steps to help get your water pressure back where it belongs. 

Solution 1: Clean your showerhead

Cleaning your showerhead isn’t typically at the top of the to-do list, so let’s take a moment to tackle it now! With a bit of time and the items below, you can unclog your showerhead, potentially resolving your water pressure concern (especially if your water comes from a well). 

What you’ll need: A heavy-duty plastic bag, white vinegar, baking soda, a rubber band, and a toothpick (or a plastic flosser to avoid any wood pieces getting stuck). Note: This is not recommended for nickel or brass showerheads.

  • Step 1: Fill the bag with vinegar halfway up, or enough to fully cover the shower head without overflowing.
  • Step 2: Carefully wrap the bag around your showerhead, and tie with the rubber band. 
  • Step 3: Let soak for 4-12 hours. 
  • Step 4: After soaking, remove the rubber band and slowly pull the bag away from the showerhead. As you dump the vinegar down the drain, add 1-4 tablespoons of baking soda to help remove any buildup on the way down. 
  • Step 5: Run hot water through the showerhead for 2 minutes; turn it off.
  • Step 6: Use your toothpick or plastic flosser to remove any remaining gunk from the nozzle.
  • Step 7: Run hot water through for one more minute, and you’re good to go!

Solution 2: Clean your shower filter

Here’s where we use the wrench from the intro! With vinegar, water, tweezers, a microfiber cloth, and a toothbrush, you can be well on your way to getting things flowing!

  • Step 1: Follow your owner’s manual’s instructions to access and remove your shower filter. 
  • Step 2: Put your filter in the sink and pour an equal mix of warm water and vinegar over it as you scrub debris away with an old toothbrush.
  • Step 3: Run lukewarm water over it for 1-2 minutes, and wipe dry with a microfiber cloth. 
  • Step 4: Use the tweezers to put the filter back in place before reattaching the showerhead, and you’re all set! 

Pro Tip: If it’s been longer than 12-16 months since your shower filter was installed, you may be due for a new one. 

A row of pipes and valves

Solution 3: Clean your pipes of debris and odor

This option is more involved, but it can get to the root of your problem more directly and keep your pipes clear for much longer. For best results, please refer to your owner’s manuals, trusted regional how-to guides, and other documents for the best way to flush your appliances, indoor and outdoor plumbing, and other water-based systems. 

Pro Tip: If the problem persists after using the solutions below, check with your neighbors to see if the municipal water system may be delivering low water pressure in your area. 

Which solution will you try first? Visit our pages on Facebook or Instagram and let us know!