How to avoid weak water pressure

We renovated our bathroom and our new shower looks great, but the water pressure is weak. Plus, it takes several minutes to get warm. Is there anything we can adjust to increase the pressure and temperature?Angie's List member Mark Loper

There is probably something blocking the flow restrictor in the showerhead, according to Ed Ernest, owner of highly rated Proformance Plumbing in Charlotte, N.C.

"There's a chance some solder used on the pipes got in the system," Ernest says. "Take an adjustment wrench, remove the showerhead, turn the water on and see what kind of water you have there."

If the pressure is OK sans showerhead, it's probably the restrictor, which Ernest says homeowners can remove themselves. Inside the showerhead, look for the flat washer with a tiny hole and remove it. That will likely solve the problem but may cause more water use.

Robert Miller, a plumber with highly rated Carolina's Finest Plumbing Inc., said the pressure problem also may be because new showerheads are designed to let a limited amount of water through. A different style fixture might help.

If water doesn't heat up enough at all, Miller says a scald guard may be limiting how warm water can get. The information you received on the shower should indicate if that's a feature and how to adjust it.

To fix the warm-up lag, a plumber can install a re-circulating hot water pump to keep warm water moving in the system. "They make them now where you can basically put it on the water heater, and then it will get hot water there almost instantly," says Miller, whose company installs the pumps for about $900.


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