Low water flow rates in shower/bath
Low water flow rates in showers and bath tubs are a common nuisance that take the joy out of bath times. They cause you to use more time in the shower and thus waste time as well as energy. The tub takes longer to fill and more energy must be used because the water in the tub cools before the tub is filled.
Most times in our day, this problem is caused by state restrictions that manufacturers are facing when making shower heads. Bath tub faucets are also coming with restrictors to reduce the water flow rate.
Other causes of slow water flow rate in showers and baths include blocked pipes, broken pipes, partially closed shut-off valves, among other things.
Fixing the low water flow rate in showers and baths
The first step is to identify the cause of the low flow rate. You will do this by measuring the flow rate at different points in the house. For example you may want to check the flow rate in the kitchen, other bathrooms and basement. This way you’ll establish whether it is a shower/bath issue or an issue with the whole house.
If the whole house is affected you may want to look at the main water valve outside the house or on the street. However you should not tamper with the water meter without consulting your water company.
Check for water restrictors
If the issue is only in the bath/shower area, then begin by checking the faucets. Oddly enough some bath faucets have restrictors which decrease the flow rate of water. Although this does not make economic sense in terms of energy and time wasted, some states require it. Many people generally remove this restrictors and the problem is solved.
The same thing goes for the shower head. Remove it by twisting it out and check for the restrictor. You’ll pull this out with a set of pliers or cut out the center if it won’t come off. Rinse it out afterwards to remove any broken parts of the restrictor. Your water flow rate should increase after this.
Check all the shut-off valves linked to your shower/bath and ensure that they are fully open. Sometimes the problem may simply be that the valves are only partially opened. Opening them fully will resolve the low water flow rate quickly.
Check the handles
The handles used to open and shut the water have valves that may be blocked. After shutting off the main water supply valve, remove these handles and check for blockages. Clean out the pipes as far as you can. Then check the water flow rate again.
The cartridge in the handle could also be causing the low flow rate. Unfortunately most cartridges cannot be replaced though savvy plumbers can modify them.
Another thing you’ll want to check after removing the handle is the inlet behind it. Check both the hot water and cold water valves. Use a screw driver to adjust these outlets to increase the pressure. Adjust them outward and this will increase the flow rate to you tub/shower.
Clean shower heads
Your shower head may have become clogged with mineral deposits. Clean this out by removing the head and soaking it in vinegar for up to 30 minutes. Then use a pointed tool or safety pin to remove any remaining clogged particles. Then reattach the shower head and check the flow rate.
Call your plumber
When you have done all the above and still the water flow rate remains low. Call a licensed professional to go through your house and identify the problem. They will resolve the problem without damaging your house in the process.
Low water flow rates in showers and baths are experienced more often nowadays. However the solutions are mostly simple and can be implemented with a little effort. Try the above solutions and you will be pleasantly surprised that the problem was so easily resolved.