3 Potential Reasons for Low Hot Water Pressure in Your Shower

You wake up on a chilly morning and head to the bathroom for a hot, invigorating shower to kickstart your day... but instead of a powerful stream, you're met by a pathetic dribble that barely gets the job done. Sound familiar?

Low hot water pressure is a major headache, but don’t give up on the dream of a steamy power shower yet. By understanding the common causes of low pressure, you can take steps to turn that trickle back into a waterfall.

DMA’s expert plumbers have helped homeowners and businesses in Poole, Bournemouth, and Dorset tackle all sorts of plumbing problems, including low water pressure. Below, we'll explore the three most frequent culprits behind weak shower flow, how to fix them yourself, and what to do if the issue sticks around.

1. Clogged Shower Head

Don't blame the pipes straight away - the culprit might be hiding right in your shower head!

Every time you shower, water carries minerals like calcium through the head. These minerals are left behind when the water evaporates, resulting in limescale that can clog up the nozzles and restrict water flow. This is especially common in areas with very hard water, like the South of England.

A clear sign of limescale buildup in your shower head is the presence of chalky white deposits around the nozzles and an uneven spray pattern.

Here’s what to do if you suspect limescale is the issue:

  1. Remove the showerhead (if possible). Some shower heads are designed to be easily unscrewed from the hose or wall fitting. If yours does, detach it for a more thorough cleaning.
  2. Grab a bucket, plastic bag, or any container large enough to hold the shower head and fill it with white vinegar.
  3. If you detached the showerhead, submerge it completely in the vinegar. If not, fill the bag with enough vinegar to cover the shower head entirely and secure it with a rubber band or string.
  4. Soak the showerhead in vinegar for at least 30 minutes, or ideally an hour. For brass shower heads, limit the soaking time to 30 minutes to avoid damage.
  5. Remove the showerhead from the vinegar and rinse it thoroughly with clean water. Use an old toothbrush to scrub any stubborn limescale deposits, especially around the nozzles.
  6. Reattach the showerhead if you detached it and turn on the shower for a few minutes to flush out any remaining limescale bits.

Afterwards, clean your shower head regularly to prevent limescale from building up again.

2. Closed Shut-Off Valves

This issue is easy to miss but simple to fix. A shut-off valve for a shower is installed on the water supply lines leading to the shower fixture. It allows you to turn off the water supply to the shower independently, without affecting the rest of your house.

Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for these valves to be accidentally left partially closed after being used, restricting water flow. Making sure they’re fully open will help restore hot water pressure in your shower.

There are two main types of shut-off valves used for showers:

  • Integral shut-off valves: Some shower valves have built-in shut-off valves, typically located behind the trim plate of the shower valve. You might need a special tool, like a valve handle removal tool, to access and turn these shut-off valves.
  • Separate shut-off valves: These are installed on the hot and cold water supply lines leading to the shower valve. They are usually located behind the shower wall, but they may also be accessible in a crawl space or cabinet below the shower. These valves are generally easier to open than integral valves and can be opened by turning the handle anticlockwise.

3. Faulty or Clogged Shower Cartridge

Your shower cartridge mixes hot and cold water in your shower valve. Like the shower head, it can get clogged with limescale, restricting water flow. Cleaning it is a bit more involved than cleaning the shower head but can usually be done by a DIYer. Here’s how:

  1. Locate the shut-off valves for your shower and turn them clockwise until they stop to shut off the water supply.
  2. Refer to your shower manual or the manufacturer's instructions for specific disassembly steps. Generally, you might need to remove the handle or trim plate using a screwdriver. Some handles may pop off after removing a screw.
  3. There might be a nut or retainer holding the cartridge in place. Use the appropriate wrench or spanner to loosen and remove it. Be prepared for some water to dribble out as you remove the cartridge.
  4. Fill a container with a 50/50 mix of hot water and white vinegar. Soak the cartridge in the solution for 10-15 minutes. You can also use an old toothbrush dipped in the solution to gently scrub any visible limescale deposits.
  5. Reinstall the cartridge, open the shut-off valves, and allow water to run through to clear away any remaining cleaning solution.

If your hot water pressure is still weak after cleaning, it might be a fault with the cartridge itself. Unless you're experienced with plumbing and have the right tools on hand, calling a plumber is usually the best bet in this case.

What to Do If Your Hot Water Pressure Is Still Low

If you've checked these things and you're still not getting strong hot water flow, then the problem might be with your hot water heater or the plumbing itself. In that case, it's best to call a qualified plumber to diagnose the issue. They’ll be able to assess your system and determine the best course of action - for example, performing a power flush to clear buildup deep in the pipes.

DMA: Expert Plumbers in Poole, Bournemouth, and Dorset

Tired of dealing with low water pressure (or any other plumbing problem)? DMA can help! As the go-to plumbers in Poole, Bournemouth, Dorset, we have the expertise to deal with any issue you’re dealing with. Here why you should choose us:
  • Our qualified team will work around your schedule to diagnose and fix your plumbing issues efficiently. All of our plumbers are highly skilled and can handle any plumbing problem, big or small.
  • We always strive to provide a quick, responsive service so your home can get back to normal in no time.
  • We offer fair and transparent pricing so you won't be surprised by the bill.
  • We've earned glowing reviews from people all across the South!
Ready to get started? Get a quote online or call us on 01202 090010 today!

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