Perhaps you recently invested in a Grohe showerhead, expecting a luxurious experience to match the system’s price. However, to your dismay, the experience is subpar compared to your old showerhead (because it didn’t have a flow restrictor). So, to amend the situation, you decide to remove the flow restrictor from the product.
While removing the restrictor can improve the fixture’s performance, Grohe states removing it can disrupt the faucet’s performance (for specific models). In addition, it can lead to more water waste and higher utility bills.
However, if you want to remove the flow restrictor from your Grohe showerhead, this guide will walk you through it.
What Is The Purpose Of A Flow Restrictor?
Most shower heads, kitchen faucets, bathroom taps, and other water fixtures throughout our homes require flow restrictors. According to the National Energy Act, showerhead manufacturers must install a flow restrictor or controller in shower heads.
These restrictors are designed to reduce water flow from a shower head to 2.5 gallons per minute (GPM). They reduce the amount of water you use while taking a shower without affecting the pressure from the showerhead. So, while the restrictor only allows a certain amount of water through the showerhead, there should still be plenty of pressure.
If you switch from an older showerhead to a new model with a flow restrictor, you might notice a change in your utility bills, as the newer showerhead will demand less water for a similar amount of pressure.
Is It OK To Remove The Flow Restrictor From A Shower Head?
Many folks remove the flow restrictors from their kitchen and bathroom fixtures to help with flow rate and pressure issues. While you can do this, Grohe recommends against removing these flow restrictors from their shower heads.
According to Grohe’s technical tips surrounding flow restrictors, removing these restrictors can disrupt the balance of the system. Additionally, these can affect the overall performance of the shower.
For example, removing the flow restrictor from a Grohe hand shower increases the flow rate from 2.5 GPM to about 5 GPM. Removing the flow restrictor from a Grohe rain shower outlet will increase the flow to approximately 15 GPM.
Given the drastic increase due to removing the flow restrictors, the total flow rate may exceed the flow capacity of the shower valve. If it does, you’ll need an additional valve. Since this can get tricky, Grohe recommends against it.
On top of that, removing the flow restrictors from your showerhead can cause your water bills to increase, as the higher flow rate will increase your water consumption.
How To Remove A Grohe Shower Head Flow Restrictor
Grohe offers a range of showerheads, so the design and setup of each model vary from one to the next. Because of this, the flow restrictor removal process is different for each model. Generally, the flow restrictor is inside the front of the showerhead or at the base of the inlet hole (either where it connects to the shower arm or supply hose).
For this example, we’ll examine one of Grohe’s handheld shower heads. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Needle-nose pliers
- Needle, toothpick, or paper clip
Remove The Showerhead
First, you’ll need to remove the showerhead from the supply hose. Most of these handheld showers simply unscrew from the hose. So, grasp the hose firmly in one hand and the showerhead in the other, then turn the showerhead to unthread it.
Once you remove the showerhead, bring it back to your work area. If you decide to work on the showerhead in the shower stall or over the bathroom sink, cover the drain with a towel, so you don’t lose any parts.
Remove The Aerator
Next, you need to remove the aerator to expose the flow restrictor. In Grohe’s hand showers, the aerator is usually a small black filter screen covering the inlet hole at the base of the showerhead, where it connects to the supply hose.
Using a pair of needle-nose pliers, carefully lift the screen out and set it aside for later.
Lift Out The Flow Restrictor
Once the little screen is out of the way, you will see the flow restrictor inside the handle of the showerhead. Using your pliers, grasp the prongs and carefully lift the flow restrictor out of the showerhead.
The flow restrictor is usually a small piece of plastic with four small prongs in the middle. There should be a rubber O-ring around the prongs, which helps restrict the flow even more.
You can remove the O-ring to slightly increase the flow rate if you’d like. It might be tricky to grasp the O-ring with pliers, so you can use a needle, toothpick, or paper clip to push the piece out of the flow restrictor.
Or, if you want to get rid of the flow restrictor altogether, remove the entire thing and set it aside. However, if removing the entire thing offers too high of a flow rate, try using the flow restrictor without the rubber O-ring.
Replace The Screen
After you remove the flow restrictor, replace the small screen over the inlet hole in the showerhead. Ensure it’s firmly seated in place before reinstalling the faucet.
Alternatively, if you decide to remove the O-ring from the flow restrictor, replace the restrictor before inserting the screen. Using the pliers, gently reinsert the flow restrictor into its place inside the inlet hole. Next, reinsert the screen.
Reinstall The Showerhead
After removing the flow restrictor, it’s time to check your handiwork. Reassemble the system by threading the handheld showerhead back onto the supply hose. Turn the water on and check for proper flow.
If the flow is still too weak, and you left the flow restrictor minus the O-ring in, go back into the assembly and remove the entire thing. However, note that the flow restrictor might not be a problem at all. It could be an issue with mineral buildup in the showerhead or other problems that make the flow rate and water pressure drop.
If the flow is too strong after removing the entire flow restrictor, add the plastic piece back into the showerhead, minus the O-ring.