Trying to take a bath or shower with low water pressure is as inefficient as it is frustrating, but before you worry about faulty pipes and expensive repairs, take a look at your bath and shower fixtures. A single inexpensive part in some of these fixtures can cause water pressure for your whole shower to drop. You may also find the answer to your problem in a shut-off valve that isn't completely open.
Mineral Deposit Buildups. There are all sorts of minerals in your water, and while they aren't harmful to you, they can gradually build up inside your showerhead, restricting water flow. This is one of the most common problems, and one of the easiest to fix.
Start by soaking your showerhead in vinegar. You can do this either by attaching a plastic bag filled with vinegar over the showerhead, or removing the showerhead and placing it in a bowl. Let it soak for a few hours, then rinse it out and see how the water flows. If soaking it doesn't work, take an old toothbrush and scrub the showerhead to work loose some of that debris.
Water Flow Restrictors. Many standard tub faucets and showerheads are sold with water flow restrictors built in, so if you've just had a new bathroom fixture installed and noticed a drop in water pressure, don't worry – it's not defective. These restrictors are designed to help you save money and avoid wasting water, but they aren't always welcome, especially if you're trying to fill up a bathtub.
These can be tricky to remove yourself, so unless you have some plumbing experience or are confident trying a do-it-yourself project, call a plumber to help you out. Alternatively, look for low-flow showerheads; these are designed to reduce water use without reducing water pressure.
Water Heaters. If you've noticed you only experience low water pressure when using hot water, the problem is likely with your water heater itself. This doesn't necessarily mean your water heater is broken; it could simply be that the shut-off valve is partially closed, or that you have a buildup of sediment in the tank.
Check your shut-off valve to make sure that it is completely open. If the tank is full, the heater is on, and you still don't have proper water pressure, you can try to flush your tank to remove some of the sediment. If this still doesn't work, call a plumber to evaluate your tank.
Faulty Diverter. If you have a tub and shower combo, a diverter is supposed to direct all the water to either the showerhead or the tub faucet. When you have an old or faulty diverter, the water can flow to both places at once, causing a drop in pressure.
Diverters aren't very expensive, but they do require taking apart the spout to access, so this is also a good project to get a plumber involved with. To make the process a little faster, pick and buy your replacement fixture and have it ready to go. For more information, contact companies like Midwestern Plumbing Service.