How To Remove A Flow Restrictor From A Shower Head

Flow restrictors are helpful, especially when it comes to saving water. But for some folks, they’re more of a hindrance than a help. So, you might decide to remove the flow restrictor from your showerhead.

But how do you go about removing the flow restrictor if you have no idea what to look for?

Key Points:

  • Flow restrictors are small circular plastic pieces, usually located inside a shower head, that save water by limiting the flow to 2.5 gallons per minute.
  • Removing a flow restrictor from a shower head may help improve water pressure, as blocked pipes can decrease pressure levels.
  • The process of removing a flow restrictor depends on the type of showerhead you have and may require an adjustable wrench or needle nose pliers.

If that sounds like your situation, we’re here to help. This article outlines the process of removing the flow restrictor from two common showerhead types, so continue reading to learn more!

What Is The Flow Restrictor In A Shower Head?

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Most showers feature a flow restrictor that, as the name implies, restricts water flow through the shower head. These restrictors, also known as water restrictors, decrease the available area for water to move through, ensuring only a specific amount of water makes it through the shower plumbing.

They effectively restrict the water flow down to a specific flow output within plumbing guidelines, which is usually 2.5 gallons per minute (GPM). Since they reduce the amount of water flowing through the shower assembly, they cut down on your water consumption while showering.

What Does A Shower Flow Restrictor Look Like?

In most cases, the flow restrictor in a shower head is a small, circular plastic piece. It’s flat, with a star-shaped center. They come in multiple colors, from white to blue to pink to black. Once you see one, it’s usually relatively easy to identify them across the board, as most flow restrictors have a similar appearance.

Will Removing The Shower Flow Restrictor Improve Water Pressure?

Flow restrictors aren’t necessarily the cause of poor water pressure, but removing them can help. In many cases, poor water pressure results from things like mineral deposits, which can build up within the pipes, on the showerhead, and the aerator, causing the water pressure to drop considerably.

How To Remove The Flow Restrictor From A Shower Head

The process of removing the flow restrictor from your showerhead hinges on the type of showerhead you have. We outlined the steps for two common showerhead types, including fixed and handheld showerheads.

Here’s what you might need:

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Pipe wrench
  • Towels or rags
  • Paper clip
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Teflon tape
  • Vinegar
  • Old toothbrush


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Most regular fixed showerheads feature an embedded flow restrictor. It’s usually tucked inside the showerhead, so to remove it, you’ll need to take the showerhead off the shower arm. So, to start, remove the showerhead from the shower arm.

Wrap a hand towel or rag around the shower arm and secure an adjustable wrench or pipe wrench over the top. The rag will help protect the finish from the wrench, ensuring you don’t scratch or damage it in the process.

The wrench will allow you to hold the shower arm securely as you remove the showerhead. If you don’t have a pipe wrench on hand, you could hold the shower arm tightly in one hand while removing the showerhead. Use a rubber glove for extra grip if you can’t get a good grasp on the shower arm.

Grasp the shower arm with your hand or a pipe wrench, then use the other to unthread the connector nut with an adjustable wrench. Be careful not to let the shower arm flex or rotate as you unthread the wrench, which could cause damage.

Once you unthread the connector nut, gently wiggle the showerhead off the shower arm. Look inside the showerhead for a washer. This component provides a tight seal, ensuring the mesh filter screen remains snugly in place. In most cases, you’ll need to remove both to see the flow restrictor.

Remove the filter and washer with your fingers or needle-nose pliers and set them aside for later. If you can’t get the filter out, flip the showerhead over and give it, a few firm taps on the face, as this should dislodge it from its spot.

Now, you should see the flow restrictor. It should be a small, circular plastic disc inside the showerhead. Remove it with a pair of needle-nose pliers and set it aside.

While you have the mesh filter out, check for mineral deposits and buildup. If it’s caked in the buildup, soak it in white vinegar for a few hours, then gently scrub it with an old toothbrush to dislodge the gunk. Rinse it to remove excess debris, then reinstall it in the showerhead and the washer.

Remove the old Teflon tape from the shower arm. Wrap the end of the shower arm in Teflon tape, wrapping it in a clockwise direction. Reattach the showerhead, tightening it down with the connection nut. Ensure you hold the shower arm firmly while tightening the nut, and avoid overtightening it.


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The process looks a bit different if you want to remove the flow restrictor from a handheld showerhead. To start, you’ll need to remove the handheld showerhead from the supply hose. Generally, this is simple – rotate the showerhead counterclockwise until it loosens.

However, some handheld shower models are a bit trickier, so if you’re unsure how to remove them, check the owner’s manual. If you don’t have the owner’s manual on hand, look up your showerhead online and click on a product listing on a site like Home Depot or Lowe’s (or the brand site).

Scroll down to the section with supporting documents, and you should find the owner’s manual, instruction guide, and troubleshooting guide, which will give you the information you need. Follow the instructions to remove the showerhead from the supply hose.

Most handheld showerheads feature the flow restrictor at the end of the handheld piece. So, once you remove the showerhead, you should be able to find it easily. In many cases, you’ll see a washer and a mesh filter, which you’ll need to remove first.

Use needle-nose pliers to remove them and set them aside. Now, you should see the flow restrictor if the showerhead has one. Gently tap the showerhead to remove the flow restrictor or use a paperclip or needle-nose pliers to lift it out.

Alternatively, the flow restrictor might be tucked inside the supply hose, depending on the manufacturer. So, if you don’t see a flow restrictor at the end of the handheld showerhead, check the end of the supply hose. If you find one, follow the same steps for removal.

Once you remove the flow restrictor, reinsert the filter and screen. Remove old tape from the linear threads, then re-wrap them with new tape, wrapping in a clockwise direction. Reattach the handheld showerhead and tighten it into place.

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