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Shower Fixtures: Is ‘Low Flow’ Really the Problem?

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shower fixtures,shower heads

If you’re a Seinfeld fan, you probably remember the episode wherein Jerry’s building implements a “low flow” water policy and starts ruining everyone’s showers, forcing his neighbor, Kramer, to turn to the black market for unregulated showerheads.

It’s a classic episode and resonates with audiences because it relies on the observational comedy that made Jerry Seinfeld famous – we think it’s funny because we’ve all experienced a bad shower, whether due to low water pressure or a low-flow showerhead.

But, what’s the difference and how do we avoid bad showers?

Is It ‘Low Flow’ or Low Water Pressure?

This is the fundamental question that, when answered, will guide you back to the delicious glory of a proper shower; the kind of shower that doubles as a shiatsu massage and can blow you out of the tub if it catches you at the wrong angle.

And, lucky for you, there’s an easy way to tell the difference.

Low water pressure will very likely manifest itself in other areas of your home and not only in the shower. So, you have a wimpy shower. How’s the water pressure in the kitchen sink? If it’s also low, then you probably have low water pressure and upgrading your shower fixtures isn’t going to fix the problem.

Adjusting Downstream Pressure  

If your problem is low water pressure, it could indicate a host of issues: pipe buildup (gunk in your water pipes), too-small pipes or low downstream pressure are common. The first two problems usually fall within the province of a plumber, but the third may be addressed by you, the savvy DIY homeowner.

Downstream pressure may be regulated in your home by what’s called a pressure-reducing valve. This value dials down the pressure of water that enters your home from the municipal source. To see how to adjust it, check out this video of an obviously smart but camera-shy dude explaining how to do it.

(De)regulating Shower Fixtures

Yes, showerheads are both regulated and contain regulators. Oppression! But, you have the power to liberate your shower fixtures if you determine that low water pressure is not your problem.

To explain, the U.S. government regulates showerhead flow as a way to conserve water, which requires many manufacturers to equip them with regulators of various types. Sometimes it’s a rubber ring (that you can drill through to widen) and sometimes it’s an adjustable mechanism.

Drill and/or adjust your shower fixtures and crank up the downstream pressure and you’ll be that much closer to the dream shower you deserve.

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