You know that satisfying, refreshing feeling you get when the water from your high-pressure shower head is pounding down on you? It’s so invigorating and clean. Well, it turns out there are lots of downsides to this kind of system, too – like wasted water.
High-pressure showers can be extremely satisfying – but they’re often wasteful! They waste a lot more than just gallons in one sitting; because if your standard showerhead has the pressure of a firehose battling with a three-alarm fire, then congratulations, you have an inefficient (and probably loud) plumbing set up at home for sure! But don’t worry about getting rid of or upgrading yet: all hope isn’t lost since not every household will experience these problems as badly as yours.
Home water pressure
Home water pressure is rated in pounds per square inch (PSI), with the average in North America being about 100 PSI. That’s high enough that you can probably get away without installing a pressure-reducing valve, which is something you’ll definitely want to do if your home water pressure consistently hits 70 PSI or above – even if it’s just for the sake of safety and peace of mind.
Regardless of how much pressure you have at the turn-off point, less than half of that will be available as usable flow when it reaches your fixtures. What happens along the way? Well…
So why does my bathroom shower have too much water pressure? The primary factor affecting household water pressure is the distance (both vertical & horizontal). As water travels from the water main into your home, its pressure drops, and its volume increases. It’s the same thing that happens when you let the air out of a balloon. Eventually, all those electrons reach your home and get sucked through pipes to your shower, where they come out as droplets.
The EPA requires all shower heads to have a flow restrictor limiting water pressure to between 50-80 PSI (see next section for more details). This type of device is called a “pressure regulator” or “low flow” valve. These are often used in commercial settings like gyms and swimming pools (the goal there being to reduce overall consumption). Still, because they can also be installed on residential systems, they’re becoming increasingly common – especially in developed countries like the United States where water shortages are becoming more common.
As of 2010, California has mandated that all showerheads sold in the state be equipped with a flow restrictor, and many other states have followed suit. So… will your high-pressure bathroom shower have too much water pressure in the future? Maybe!
The problem isn’t just about wasted gallons; it’s also tied to issues around conservation (and even fire safety). The EPA estimates that 5% of total household hot-water use is used by the cold-water tap. Another 18% goes down the drain while waiting for hot water to arrive – whether we’re brushing our teeth or waiting for a warm blanket after getting out of bed. And suppose you have very low flow fixtures and appliances in your home. In that case, it might be that much more important to install a pressure-reducing valve. If the water pressure is higher in the mainline, the pressure at the fixture will also be higher.
And whether you have high or low water pressure, you’re wasting energy! With increased flow rates and distance comes increased resistance, requiring increased pumping work from your hot-water heater, which keeps it running longer than necessary. So… is this really an issue? In my opinion: Yes, it is. Regardless of your household has a fancy new heat pump or just an old trusty tank-type heater, energy efficiency is something we should all do our best to implement wherever possible.
In addition to wasted gallons and energy use, there are a few other safety concerns to be aware of. Below are some links that you may find interesting.
I’d love to see if the following flow restrictor/water pressure reducing valves could help in your case, and I’ll bet they will! (read more about them below)
- Designed for installation on potable water lines to reduce high inlet pressure to a lower outlet pressure
- Integral strainer makes this device most suitable for residential and commercial water systems that require frequent cleaning of sediment and debris
- Direct acting integral by-pass design prevents buildup of excessive system pressure caused by thermal expansion
- Balance piston design enables the regulator to react in a smooth and responsive manner to changes in system flow demand
- Provides protection from inlet pressure changes
- Wilkins Model Nr3 Pressure Reducing Valve With Integral Bypass Check Valve And Strainer, 1-1/4 In., Lead Free
- Designed for installation on potable water lines to reduce high inlet pressure to a lower outlet pressure
- The product is manufactured in United States
- Package Dimensions: 9.375" L x 5" W x 9.75" H
- MULTI-PURPOSE: effectively water-saver, male and female threads both are 1/2"IPS , fits any standard size shower heads/pipes.
- INNOVATIVE DESIGN: variable volume adjust, reduces the flow or pressure, shut off water, turn it on/off without standing.
- WELL MADE: body constructed by sturdy brass, with plastic handle, won't get any corroded or leakage, ensures longevity.
- GREAT ADDITION: economical fix for bidet sprayer, showerhead, garden hose upgrades, etc., simple to use/install.
- SMOOTH OPERATION: moving part slides with very little effort, easily manipulated with wet/soapy hands, net weight: 0.15 lbs.
- EASY WATER FLOW ADJUSTMENT: our shower flow restrictor allows for regulating water volume or completely shutting off water flow while showering.
- CONVENIENT WATER SAVER: great addition to a high flow shower, helps reduce water pressure, no more wasting hot water while getting soaped up.
- SUBSTANCIAL CONSTRUCTION: all brass construction with preimum brushed nickel finish, quality material and craftsmanship for durability, resists corrode and tarnish.
- SMOOTH OPERATION, NO LEAKING: inner ceramic valve for inner ceramic valve for smoothly sliding the lever from left to right, seals well without leaking, adds this valve to a dripping shower head without replacing all the plumbing.
- STANDARD FITTING, SIMPLE INSTALLATION: both the male and female threads are 1/2" IPS for standardized handheld shower, wall mount shower head or bidet sprayer, easy to install by hand or wrench.
- 2016 Improved Version. We have upgraded our brass regulator after examining other reviews; Our new lead-free regulator contains a more durable pressure gauge with oil to prevent friction of internal components, particularly low lead content, well under the lead free requirement, and comes with a 1 Year WARRANTY.
- Lead Free. This regulator was modified to contain lowest amount of lead of any regulator on the market. Each batch of regulators is tested to contain less than .13% lead, well under the NSF lead-free requirements of .25%. Email us for a copy of our testing certification.
- Regulator gauge contains oil to reduce friction of internal components and greatly increases the life of the product.
- Compatible with all U.S. water sources, including 3/4" garden hose threads and NH threads. Contact us for any compatibility questions by clicking on our store name, "Cartlee", and clicking on the ask a question button.
- Adjustable up to 160 PSI. Arrives with easy installation guide. Email us for an additional copy of the guide or quality control test.
Shower water pressure that is too high can be surprisingly dangerous!
Higher-than-standard water pressure will cause the hot water supply to run at an excessive rate, which could result in a significant loss of water from your household each day. Too much hot water use also wastes energy and increases the need for repairs or replacements. The excess pressure might even damage showerheads, faucets, and pipes.
This risk is primarily present where there are no separate controls on either the cold or hot water heater (though not likely if you have them). The problem is that increased pressures can push through valves faster than they were designed to open.
With primary shut-offs located in the basement or crawlspace, there may be nothing between you and a very expensive flood but a small rubber washer. And in some extreme circumstances (depending on the construction and location of your home, as well as where you live), an excessively high hot water pressure may cause a burst pipe or even cause structural damage to your house.
In case you were wondering about how to determine if you have too much water pressure in the showerhead, there are a few things that may help reveal this:
1) Do you notice any leaking around faucets or from pipes? If so, these might be related to excessive water pressures. A good example is when the wax ring surrounding the base of a toilet becomes softened by being exposed to higher-than-normal pressures – causing pooling beneath it during heavy usage.
2) If you notice that water drains faster than normal (or you have a lot of difficulties with clogged drains), then you may need to check for higher than rated pressures.
3) Does the spray from your showerhead appear particularly forceful? This, too, could be an indicator of excessive pressure!
No matter what, if you feel like there is any chance that something about your high water pressure situation might be related to safety, we’d recommend calling in an experienced plumbing contractor to have a look! You can always ask them if they would prefer to make a house call or come by later and take care of things for you. Suppose it becomes obvious after inspection that there is no cause for concern. In that case, they should also provide you with a written report (for your records).
Shower Head Flow Restrictor/Pressure Reducing Valves
Flow restrictors and pressure reducing valves are very similar products – they can be used to inhibit the flow delivered by your showerhead. In addition, both of these devices can help reduce the wear and tear on other water fixtures inside your home (such as toilet tanks) caused by excessively high water pressures. The major difference between them is that a flow restrictor regulates water internally – while a pressure reducing valve does so externally:
• A Flow Restrictor reduces water flow by siphoning it from the showerhead into another chamber for storage before it reaches the sprayer. Once stored, only minimal amounts of water are allowed ‘out’ at any time. This limits both overall usage levels as well as pressure – and can help reduce the risk of floods and damage to fixtures.
• A Pressure Reducing Valve is usually installed inline on the water supply line (after the shut-off valve) near your shower head. When it senses excessive water flow, it temporarily shuts off the fluid flow from reaching the pipe before reopening a few moments later. Though this may seem inefficient at first glance, remember that most restrictive valves cause less than 5% loss in delivered pressurized water!
More: Smart Bedroom Gadgets
As far as which one, you should choose goes (if either), consider factors such as:
• If you have any leaks or problems with seams around pipes or faucets related to high pressures: Flow Restrictors would prove to be more effective overpressure reducing valves.
• If you plan on using the showerhead for a long duration (showers lasting more than 10 minutes, or multiple users in succession): Flow Restrictors are best suited for this as they will allow your hot water tank to replenish itself along with the pressure. Pressure Reducing Valves have a predetermined amount of fluid flow – so use them sparingly if you expect to take many showers back-to-back!
• Whatever your choice, be sure that you purchase one of adequate size and quality to operate well under the expected conditions. A Flow Restrictor should be marked at least 1/4″ – 3/8″ (as is required by law), while a Pressure Reducing Valve can have up to 1/2″ restrictions.
Checking and Adjusting Water Pressure
If your shower water pressure is higher than you would like it to be, you have a couple of options available (depending on the source). These include:
1) Obtain and install a new flow restrictor or pressure reducing valve designed for your specific plumbing needs. While this can be very effective, there are some caveats that apply here! Cheap, mass-produced models can easily fail – causing either excessive or restricted flow when they should not. Bear in mind that poor-quality valves will likely need replacing every few years, while high-end designs tend to last much longer. In addition, the installation process may prove to be problematic – so if you choose this route, get it from a professional plumber.
2) If you have an inline pressure reducing valve, you can adjust its flow rate by turning the valve slightly to the right or left:
While slight shifts may not make a discernable difference in your water pressure, larger adjustments can be easily felt. The drawback of this method is that it may waste more water than you would like (especially if someone forgets to reset it between uses). Also, keep in mind that many devices are sold with hard stops – so minor turning will do nothing productive.
3) Check your faucets and other water fixtures for signs of problems (such as dripping or leaking). Any such issues should obviously be taken care of before they become larger and lead to further damage! Also, check to see if any valves are open (such as the water supply to your home) or if you have a slow leak that can be repaired. A simple valve repair kit could prove very useful here!
4) If you believe that your shower head is damaged, leaking, or clogged with mineral deposits: Clean it first using vinegar and baking soda – then purchase a replacement from a hardware store. Be sure to check hardware stores for less expensive models that may meet your needs. Remember to install the new one according to manufacturers’ instructions and never use oil on rubber washers since this will cause them to degrade more quickly!
5) Check how many fixtures are in use at once. While one shower or bathtub is not usually enough to cause high pressure, a kitchen sink, several sinks or faucets, and other fixtures (especially in combination with high water flow rates) can do just that!
6) If you are thinking of installing new plumbing, be sure to use the best quality materials available. Doing so may allow you to achieve more pressure as well as conserve water overall – thus reducing your bills while allowing for better conservation. In addition, you will likely find that there is less maintenance involved during this process.
Remember: While it’s generally a good idea to have enough pressure to feel a strong spray from your shower head, too much is certainly unwelcome. Whether you choose to adjust this manually by turning valves or by purchasing a whole new set of components (with replacement parts), remember that this can lead to a more satisfying shower.
7) If all else fails, invest in an energy-efficient water system such as a tankless water heater (also called on-demand, instantaneous or continuous flow). These models are installed beneath the sink and provide hot water as needed rather than keeping it heated in anticipation of use. This means you save both money and energy! Tankless units also last far longer than their counterparts, with no extra maintenance necessary.
Frequently Asked Questions – Shower water pressure,
How do I adjust my water pressure manually?
While this can be very effective, there are some caveats that apply here! Cheap, mass-produced models can easily fail – causing either excessive or restricted flow when they should not. Bear in mind that poor-quality valves will likely need replacing every few years, while high-end designs tend to last much longer. In addition, the installation process may prove to be problematic – so if you choose this route, get it from a professional plumber.
Why is my shower head leaking? What can I do about it?
If you believe that your shower head is damaged, leaking, or clogged with mineral deposits: Clean it first using vinegar and baking soda – then purchase a replacement from a hardware store. Be sure to check hardware stores for less expensive models that may meet your needs. Remember to install the new one according to manufacturers’ instructions and never use oil on rubber washers since this will cause them to degrade more quickly!
What if my shower doesn’t have enough water pressure?
While you can either lower the flow rate to decrease pressure or raise the flow rate to increase pressure, there are much easier ways to do so! Purchase a massaging sprayer that attaches directly into your shower head (this will reduce friction), or consider installing another, more powerful shower head. Optionally you could invest in a set of mixing valves that will help you to redistribute water flow throughout your home – or even upgrade the water lines themselves for better overall circulation.
What are the best shower fixtures?
While there is no simple answer to this question, remember that well-known brands such as Delta and Moen produce reliable products. In addition, stainless steel models tend to prove popular because they do not rust, tarnish, or become damaged when exposed to hard water issues (a frequent cause of valve malfunctions). Ultimately, consider the lifetime cost of your product over an extended time period and follow your budget accordingly. Some plumbing professionals may even recommend brass piping since it’s a more durable material than many others on the market!
How much should I expect to pay for a new shower head?
The price of your unit will depend upon the type of fixture you are looking at and the brand name. Be aware that mass-produced units tend to be cheaper but also wear out more quickly than their higher-quality counterparts. If possible, consider shopping around for better rates from smaller hardware stores or local plumbers (who may even aid you in installation). Budget accordingly and note any product warranties before making your final purchase!
What is the best way to install a new shower valve?
While there are so many ways to do this, here are some helpful hints: Make sure water is turned off prior to installing anything. Work slowly and carefully as you may risk injury if pieces are handled improperly. When replacing your washers, try to find the right color (to match existing fixtures). If you don’t know what washer goes where, consult the manufacturer’s instructions – or at least be consistent!
How can I reduce the amount of water wasted from my shower?
While there are many ways in which you can conserve shower water, here are some suggestions: Consider installing a low-flow fixture such as those made by Delta and Moen. In addition, they come with easy-to-read flow rate indicators that allow re-adjustments to specific needs. Keep track of how much water is being used by starting a timer when you begin bathing. Also, consider fixing leaks immediately so that you not only minimize water waste but also prevent further damage to fixtures.
How do I install a new shower head?
Here are four steps to consider when performing this task: Buy all the necessary tools and parts (including mounting hardware) ahead of time. Turn off water supply valves and disconnect existing lines from each fixture. Remove unit (if necessary) and clean any sediment buildup or rust away from valve surfaces. Install your new fixture by securing firmly and then resetting the water supply valves. At last, test for leaks before using your shower!
What is a flow restrictor?
This item is installed within the plumbing of all new showers to limit waste and prevent damage to homes with weak water pressure issues. Essentially, it helps to reduce unnecessary water intake by giving more power to users instead of excess runoff that goes down the drain. As such, flow restrictors help reduce water wastage and protect your home by preventing flooding.
How do I install a new flow restrictor?
This is best done under the watchful eye of an experienced plumber or handyman. If you’re willing to attempt this task yourself, first turn off the water supply valves and remove any existing fixtures in order to avoid injury. Once complete, work slowly and carefully while following instructions regarding much to tighten (both inside and outside fittings) in order to avoid leaks.
What are the advantages of installing a flow restrictor?
Aside from saving water and helping you save money, they also help reduce waste by increasing pressure on fixtures to allow for better distribution throughout your home. This not only leads to more efficient use of water but also makes showering more enjoyable because there is less chance of low pressure-related issues (such as headaches).
If I remove my flow restrictor, won’t my shower be too powerful?
The short answer is no – though it may take some getting used to! Because most homes can handle strong water pressure at the point of entry, this will not present a problem as long as the rest of your plumbing is in good working order.
Can I remove my shower head flow restrictor?
This depends on your specific fixtures as well as the plumbing codes in your area – so always be sure to check first. If you are allowed to do so, remove the flow restrictor by turning it several times or replacing it with a larger one.
Can high water pressure damage my home?
This depends largely upon the internal piping and fixtures; however, they are built to withstand 4-5 times more pressure than recommended showers under most circumstances. Still, it isn’t ideal to have a system that is at full capacity unless there is a known issue with weak water pressure or leaks. If you notice that some areas feel weaker than others while showering, call an experienced plumber for faster results!
How many gallons of water do showerheads use?
It is difficult to give an exact answer since this depends upon pressure and temperature as well as other factors. To estimate how much water you are using per minute, start counting when the faucet is fully opened (while not in use). After roughly 60 seconds have passed, note how many seconds have gone by. By taking note of both numbers (gallons used/time), any leaks can quickly and easily be found and fixed.
How much water can a shower head save?
This will vary based on how many gallons are used per minute. For instance, a low-flow showerhead (2.5 GPM) could result in a 30-50% reduction in gallons per minute. But if you have high flow fixtures, this rate may not seem significant overall – so always measure your usage!
Last update on 2021-10-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API