How To Remove The Flow Restrictor From A Shower Head

Water-saver features appear in nearly every water-consuming fixture on the market today, as specific guidelines from the EPA require water conservation. As of January 1, 1994, showerheads cannot use more than 2.5 gallons per minute (GPM), so modern bathroom fixtures feature water restrictors to comply.

While these restrictors do their job, there are times when they do their job too well. In these cases, many homeowners begin looking for ways to remedy the problem. The obvious solution? Remove the water restrictor. So, how do you remove the restrictor? Let’s find out.

What Does A Flow Restrictor Look Like?

Every showerhead is slightly different, so your showerhead’s removal process might differ. Because of the variation, it’s essential to know what the flow restrictor looks like.

Generally, the flow restrictor is a small, flat, circular piece of plastic. In most cases, the inside portion of the circle features a star-shaped bit, although it can vary from one model to the next.

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The exact location of your showerhead’s flow restrictor varies, but they’re usually located behind the showerhead or at the end of the flexible hose (for handheld models).

Should I Remove A Shower Head Flow Restrictor?

Many manufacturers recommend against removing the flow restrictor from a showerhead (or any other product). These restrictors are designed to conserve water, so removing them from a showerhead or faucet could cause your water bill to climb. Although it can help increase water flow to the showerhead, removing the restrictor is not recommended as a solution to flow issues.

Is There An Alternative To Removing The Flow Restrictor From My Shower Head?

Many people choose to remove the flow restrictor from their showerheads and faucets due to poor water flow or pressure. While removing this restrictor can be a solution, it doesn’t always correct the problem.

For example, mineral deposits are a common culprit behind poor water pressure or flow. Hard water moving through the showerhead leaves behind crusty deposits. Over time, these deposits can clog the holes in your showerhead, leading to restricted water flow. So, removing the flow restrictor wouldn’t correct the problem in this particular case, as it isn’t the culprit behind the issue.

Of course, mineral deposits might not be causing the issue, as other issues can lead to restricted water flow. For instance, it could be due to a leaky pipe, a worn-out mixing valve, a closed valve (or partially closed), or possibly even a faulty water heater.

Do All Shower Heads Have Removeable Flow Restrictors?

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Only some flow restrictors are removable from your shower head. While several brands still manufacture models with removable flow restrictors, more and more manufacturers are shifting to built-in restrictors. The removal process is nearly impossible with built-in flow restrictors, as the restrictor is integrated into the showerhead’s design.

So, your showerhead may or may not have a removable flow restrictor. Unfortunately, if your showerhead doesn’t have a removable restrictor, you’ll need to figure out an alternative option to restore water flow through the showerhead. In some cases, this translates to installing a different showerhead, but in others, it’s as simple as removing mineral deposits from the showerhead.

How To Remove The Flow Restrictor From A Shower Head

Every showerhead is slightly different, as there are dozens of models from varying brands. Considering many brands offer several lines of showerheads, there are hundreds of showerheads out there.

So, while these instructions may not be identical to the removal process for your exact showerhead model, they help steer you in the right direction.

Before you start, gather your materials. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Pipe wrench
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Rags
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Teflon tape

Once you gather your materials, turn off the water to the showerhead. Sometimes, there might be an isolated shut-off valve in the shower’s housing tucked in the wall. Or, there might be a nearby control panel with shut-off valves.

If you can’t find an isolated shut-off valve for the shower, turn off the water at the main water shut-off valve. This will turn off the water to the entire house, so be sure to let your family, friends, or roommates know before you cut the water supply. Once the water is off, drain excess water from the shower by turning on the faucet and letting it run until water stops flowing from the shower head.

Handheld Showers

If you have a handheld showerhead, here’s how to remove the flow restrictor:

  1. Unthread the showerhead: Generally, handheld showers are connected to a flexible hose. So, remove the showerhead from the hose by turning it counterclockwise. If you can’t get a good grip, use a clean towel (to protect the finish) and a pair of adjustable pliers.
  2. Check for a screen: Once you remove the showerhead, check the end of the supply hose for a screen and washer. They should sit right inside the end of the hose, but in some cases, they might be at the end of the showerhead, so check both. Use a pair of needle-nose pliers to remove them carefully.
  3. Remove the restrictor: Now, you can remove the water restrictor. Sometimes, it’ll be tucked inside the end of the hose, but it might be in the showerhead. Carefully remove it using a pair of needle-nose pliers.
  4. Replace Teflon tape: Remove the old Teflon tape from the showerhead’s threads and replace it with new tape. Wrap the tape in the clockwise direction on the threads.
  5. Reinstall the showerhead: Once you remove the water restrictor, reinstall the washer and screen. Reattach the flexible hose until the showerhead is securely in place.
  6. Check for improved water flow: Turn the water back on and check the showerhead for improved water flow. If the flow is still low, there’s likely another issue at play.

Fixed Showers

If you have a fixed showerhead, follow these steps to remove the flow restrictor:

  1. Remove the showerhead: First, remove the showerhead using a pipe wrench and a cloth (this will prevent damage to the finish). Wrap the cloth around the showerhead’s connector nut (this is the piece that secures the showerhead at the shower arm). Grasp the metal nut with a pipe wrench, then turn counterclockwise to remove the showerhead.
  2. Lift out the screen: Once you remove the showerhead, check inside for a washer and screen. Lift them out of the showerhead using a pair of needle-nose pliers. Alternatively, you may be able to tap the showerhead on a solid surface to remove both pieces.
  3. Remove the restrictor: With the screen and washer out of the way, you can remove the water restrictor. Use a pair of needle-nose pliers or a flathead screwdriver to pry out the water restrictor gently.
  4. Replace Teflon tape: Before reinstalling the showerhead, remove the old Teflon tape from the threads on the shower arm and replace it with new tape. Wrap the replacement tape in a clockwise direction around the threads.
  5. Reinstall the showerhead: Once you remove the flow restrictor, reinsert the washer and screen, then thread the showerhead back onto the shower arm. Tighten the connector nut as necessary to secure the showerhead, but avoid overtightening it.
  6. Check for improved water flow: Turn the water back on and check for improved water flow.

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