Losing water pressure is, at best, an annoyance. At worst, it’s the kind of inconvenience that can mean days without being able to have a proper shower which, especially when the weather is warm, is not at all pleasant for anyone involved. Some showers never have great pressure, and some lose it part way through the showering process itself, leaving you with shampoo in your hair and no way to rinse it off.
It’s a nightmare, but there are ways to avoid this problem. What you do will vary depending on the cause of the low pressure, so it pays to do some research before committing to any particular course of action. From valves to pipe blockages, here are just a few ideas of what might be wrong.
Pressure Balancing Valve Limitations
Ah yes, that. If a pressure balancing valve limitation sounds like nonsense to you, that could be because you’re not a plumber who has seen it all before, and this is one of the reasons why calling in an expert might be a good idea.
It’s not essential, though; if you have a good grasp of DIY and you want to get your hands dirty (or clean, as the case may be when you’re fixing a shower) then by all means go for it; we can provide you with all the materials you might need.
But back to the pressure balance valve. You’ll know if your shower has one because it means there is just one handle that controls both the flow of the water and the temperature. These can easily become limited due to their set up and their proximity to other outlets such as sink taps and toilets; if you’ve ever been in a shower when someone has flushed, you’ll know that sudden change in temperature and pressure can be quite a shock.
You can balance this gauge, however, to ensure that it isn’t interrupted. This is a fiddly job, though, and it can often be easier to switch your pressure balance valve for a thermostatic mixing valve which means you’ll have different temperature and flow controls. This is a much easier job and will give you the results you’re looking for right away.
Malfunctioning Diverter Valve
If your shower is part of your bath it’s likely you’ve got a diverter valve installed. This is the valve that diverts water from the bath taps up to the shower instead. When these malfunction or break, it can mean that not enough water is being diverted, and that has an effect on the pressure you’ll be getting.
If this is the case, replacing the diverter valve will solve the problem. To determine whether your diverter valve needs to be changed, take a look at what the pressure is like coming out of your bath taps. If that is good but the shower pressure isn’t, that valve should be changed.
Water Pressure Reduction Valve Should Be Adjusted
Showers are full of valves, so it’s likely that when something goes wrong it is to do with at least one of them. The water pressure reduction valve is, however, not something that is specific to your shower, and it actually attached to the main water line instead; it will be close to where the line enters your home. This is in place to stop the pressure from getting too high and damaging your appliances within the home, but sometimes it will have been set a little too low – a simple tweak should help you get better pressure.
If you’re wondering whether your water pressure reduction valve is to blame for your water woes take note of what the water pressure is like all around your home. If it’s bad everywhere then this valve should be the first place you look.
Putting your showerhead on your monthly cleaning schedule isn’t a bad idea at all – when they get clogged by limescale, the flow can be greatly reduced. Unscrew the showerhead from its moorings and soak it in a bucket of cleaning solution for a few minutes, then use an old toothbrush to make sure the nozzles are totally clear.
Broken Or Obstructed Pipe
A broken or obstructed pipe is a real issue and is probably the most serious cause of low pressure coming from your shower. If the pipe is broken and you don’t do something about it, there could be a slow leak somewhere unseen and unknown; this could go on for years and cause huge amounts of damage when the structure of your home can no longer take it.
If there is no other reason you can see for your sudden drop in pressure then it’s time to call a plumber (especially if you can hear water running after you turn off the main). Sometimes the experts are the only ones who can help.
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