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Thread: Stall shower low or no water flow clogged shower piping

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member MiamiBorn's Avatar
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    Unhappy Stall shower low or no water flow blocked shower piping

    We have been living with low or no water flow, no water pressure, both hot and cold in our stall master shower for a very long time. It started immediately after a burst water line from the house to the city water was repaired. Maybe debris in the main water pipe moved to the shower at the end this particular water line. No other fixture is affected including the roman tub, two sinks faucets, and the toilet. The faucet is an old Moen push pull. When the valve cartridge is removed there is great water pressure, so the valve seems fine. It appears that the trouble is a blockage in the pipe from the valve to the showerhead.

    We have had a plumber here initially and several times since and have also tried numerous DIY fixes with little to no success. We can make it go from no water to a little water, barely enough to shower with. Over time the flow becomes less and less. We have lived with this because tearing up the tile would be a nightmare. Since there is so much tile in the entire bathroom that matches the shower, bathroom would have to be totally redone.
    Remedies tried:
    -Changed the cartridge with no effect.
    -Using a neighbor’s hose to push water into the shower pipe back toward the valve with the valve cartridge removed (did you use a fitting on the shower pipe to seal it to backflow like the other post I sent?)
    -Pouring CLR in shower pipe. That increased the pressure a bit—sometimes from nothing to a little pressure
    -The plumber tried using air to backflow
    Any ideas that would fix this without tearing up the tile would be terrific.
    Last edited by MiamiBorn; 09-15-2013 at 08:06 PM.

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Is the wet wall (where the showerhead is) on an outside wall or does it back up to another room? If another room, maybe break into that wall from behind being careful not to beat on it too much. You may be able to then remove the pipe and resolve this. Have you tried removing the shower arm? This can be done without tearing up the tile. If you're lucky, the clog may be in there, but it's more likely in the elbow. But, with the arm out, you may be able to dislodge that. You'll need some pipe dope or tape to seal the joint.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  3. #3
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    Have you tried removing the shower head?
    That would be the logical place to look. It doesn't take much to block a flow restrictor or the jets on a shower head.

  4. #4
    DIY Senior Member Murphy625's Avatar
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    Borescope to see what the problem is?

    You said when you remove the valve, the water pressure is fine.. So then its a problem with the valve????? Or did I misunderstand ?

    What material are the pipes made of? What happened when you used a hose to back feed the water?

    Hydrochloric acid (Muriatic acids) dissolve most things except plastics. (Do not use on metal pipes)
    Phosphoric acids work good sometimes and are safe on steel.
    Caustics (sodium and potassium hydroxides) dissolve most organics like food and hair.
    Sulfuric Acids (dissolve most things except plastics)
    Vinegar as Acetic Acid tends to remove scale buildup and works good with most metal pipes.
    Hot Steam tends to be the most gentile.. Very effective at many things but don't use on plastic pipes.

    Then there are purely mechanical solutions like feeding a cable through the pipe and running it back and forth to break stuff up. Feed a coat hanger as far as you can go from each side and see what comes back.

    Best solution is the diagnostic one.. get a borescope and see with your own eyes.

  5. #5
    DIY Junior Member MiamiBorn's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies. We removed the valve cartridge and pushed water back from the shower head pipe and no water came out, so the problem is in the pipe to the shower. It's copper pipe on an outside concrete block wall. After I posted I saw another successful remedy. Pour CLR down the shower pipe and then immediately do a backflow. I am going to try this. Used the CLR but didn't do the backflow. Did the backflow without the CLR. Actually, the entire post said that the plumber used CLR and "some other stuff". I am querying the author about what "some other stuff" was. Any guesses?

    What is a borescope? Should the plumber have used one?
    Last edited by MiamiBorn; 09-15-2013 at 10:55 PM. Reason: addition

  6. #6
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    The problem is probably because the water to the shower has to go DOWN and then make a "U turn" to go up to the shower head. That "U" created a pocket for debris to accumulate and harden. You have to remove the cap/plug/pipe sealing the bottom of the valve and dislodge the material in it.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  7. #7
    DIY Junior Member MiamiBorn's Avatar
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    I don't think that we have access to that without tearing the wall out.

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