If you have good water pressure, but you are showering with minimal amounts of water coming out of your shower head, then there can be two options:
- There is a setting on your shower head that controls the water flow.
- The flow restrictor is limiting the amount of water you have.
In the United States, manufacturers are required to sell shower heads with a water flow restrictor valve, but you can remove it if you want and increase the water flow from your shower head. Keep in mind that the water pressure doesn’t matter when deciding if you should remove a water flow restrictor from a showerhead, like it matters when choosing the right submersible well pump, for example. In this article, we will explain how exactly you can do that without damaging your shower head.
What is a Water Flow Restrictor, and How Does It Work?
Flow Restrictors are also called “flow limiters” because they limit or restrict the amount of water that flows through your shower head. It’s a small device build in your shower head, which you can remove at home if you want the water flow to increase in your shower head. The water restrictor is usually built from plastic, so removing it wouldn’t be as hard. Some people enjoy blazing hot showers and the flow restrictor is made of materials that will endure high temperatures, no matter if you are using a regular water heater or an electric tankless water heater.
How to Find the Flow Restrictor Valve in Different Shower Heads?
Locating the restrictor valve depends on what type of shower head you have at home – a handheld or fixed shower head. Below, we have explained how to find the flow restrictor for both types of showerheads. It’s a different color based on the manufacturer, so you can’t distinguish it by the color.
Finding the Restrictor in Handheld Shower Heads
In handheld showerheads, especially the newer models, the flow restrictor is built in the showerhead handle, either at the base or near the top. Once you unscrew the handheld shower head from the rest of the shower, you will be able to see it on the inside. You should check the manufacturer specs to see if it’s listed where exactly the flow restrictor is located.
Finding the Restrictor in Fixed Shower Heads
In fixed showerheads and most older models, the flow restrictor valve is most likely located inside the mounting device, so you will have to unscrew it and remove it, but removing it is different for the various devices. Check the manufacturer specs to see the location of the flow restrictor valve if you can’t find it.
How to Remove a Water Flow Restrictor Valve from Your Shower Head?
You will need some materials before starting the process of removing the flow restrictor from your shower head. Here is what you need to get before starting:
- Pipe or Adjustable Wrench
- Paper Clip
- Needle Nose Pliers
- Teflon Tape
- Towel or a Cloth
Follow the instructions below for the different types of showerheads.
Removing the Flow Restrictor in Fixed Shower Heads
- First, you need to disconnect the showerhead from the shower arm (which is mounted on the wall). You will need to unscrew it either using a wrench or by hand.
- Check to see if your shower head has a mesh screen and if it has, remove it. A shower screen is used to stop any impurities or sediment from passing.
- Find the O-ring inside the showerhead and use the paper clip to lift the O-ring but be careful not to damage it because you will need it later. If it’s damaged you will have to buy a new one, they aren’t expensive (they cost less than a dollar in the US) but it’s a hassle to have to go out to get this one part.
- Get the flow restrictor out of the showerhead and try prying it out with wither the paper clip, needle nose pliers, or a screwdriver (or any other tool which will fit inside the showerhead to get the restrictor out).
- Put the O-ring and shower screen back inside the showerhead (you can clean the shower screen with water or equal parts water and vinegar before placing it back).
- Remove the old Teflon tape (if there is one) from the showerhead and clean it with a damp cloth or a toothbrush to remove any deposits there might be left.
- Put new Teflon tape on the shower arm threads and make sure it’s enough, so it’s sealed well.
- Screw the showerhead back on the shower arm in the same direction you put the Teflon tape. You can use a wrench to tighten it even more but be careful not to go too far because it will damage it.
Removing the Flow Restrictor in Handheld Shower Heads
There are three places a flow restrictor can be in a handheld showerhead:
- In the handle
- In the hose
- Behind the showerhead
Find exactly where the flow restrictor is, either by looking up the manufacturer specs or by disassembling it.
- If the restrictor is in the handle, you need to use a wrench to unscrew it from the hose and cover the nut with a cloth.
- If the restrictor is in the hose, you can use a wrench and cloth to remove it from either the top or bottom side of the hose.
- If the restrictor is in the showerhead, then unscrewing it is the same as we explained above.
The steps for removing the flow restrictor once you find it and unscrewing the parts are the same as the ones for the fixed shower head. Don’t forget to replace the old Teflon tape (plumber’s tape) with a new one and to clean the parts well before assembling them back.
Law Regarding Flow Restrictors and Environmental Impact
Flow restrictors help the environment because they conserve clean water, which is very important for us and our children. That’s why US law recognizes this and legally requires sellers of showerheads to have flow restrictors build inside them. Specifically, no more than 2.5 gallons of flow per minute should come out of your showerhead, and that’s where this small equipment fits in.
There are other ways to reduce water usage, help the environment, and spend less on your water and electricity bills. The finest whole house water filters ensure you get high-quality water and are environmentally friendly compared to other systems available nowadays. Once you install the system, you will see differences in your water right away.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Flow Restrictors and Shower Heads
Are there other ways to increase the flow other than removing the flow restrictor valve?
Yes, there are. You should look into buying an adjustable shower head where you can set the water flow however you like. Another option is to clean the hard water build up around your shower head because that may also be the reason the water flow is restricted.
What are the disadvantages of removing the flow restrictor from your shower head?
If you remove the flow restrictor, your energy and water bills might increase, and you will not be conserving water that is necessary for the environment and the future because clean water is a limited resource.
Are there any advantages to removing the flow restrictor from your shower head except for the higher water flow?
Besides restricting the water flowing through your shower head, your electric and water bills would be less if you don’t remove the flow restrictor.
Is there only one flow restrictor in my shower system?
You will have to check with the manufacturer to see if there are multiple flow restrictors. If there are, you need to remove all of them to see a change in the water flowing from your shower. Usually, there are more flow restrictors in showers with more than one showerhead (combined – handheld + rain showerheads).
Is it safe to remove the flow restrictor myself, or do I need to call a plumber?
You can safely remove the flow restrictor valve from your shower head if you follow the instructions in the article. If you aren’t confident that you can do it, you can call a professional, but the process isn’t that hard, and you can even watch videos on YouTube for the specific showerhead model.
Can I remove the flow restrictor valve before installing the shower system?
Yes, you can.
You may also be wondering what the ideal shower head height is. If so, we have also answered this question for you!
Finding and removing the flow restrictor valve from your shower head isn’t hard, and anyone can do it by following our instructions. You don’t necessarily need a plumber to do this, and as you already read in our article, there are plenty of benefits. Especially if you live in a place with low water pressure, this can make your shower experience better, and it’s definitely worth the extra cash you will spend on water and electricity. If you end up not liking how the shower feels when the flow restrictor is removed you can always put it back where it was but make sure you put new plumber’s tape every time.