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Thread: Low Water Pressure in Shower/Tub - HELP!

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member JamesB's Avatar
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    Default Low Water Pressure in Shower/Tub - HELP!

    I am new to this forum, and to plumbing in general. I hope someone might have some insight into a problem that has me stymied!

    The water pressure in the shower/tub is very low. It takes 15 seconds to fill a 32oz glass with water from the tub spout (about 1 gallon per minute). The flow rate is approximately the same from the shower head. The diverter is a gate-type diverter located in the tub spout (two handle faucet set-up). The rate is the same for hot water only, cold water only, or both fully open.

    The flow rate from the bathroom sink is 1.5 gallons per minute. The bathroom is upstairs, and the sink and shower are fed by the same set of copper pipes (1/2" I believe). I also get 1.5 gallons per minute in the kitchen sink. It is an older home (some iron pipe in the basement) on a public water system.

    I have done a test by removing the hot water faucet cartridge, and cold water cartridge, one at a time. In each case I get a strong flow of water directly from the wall into the shower. It certainly seemed much stronger than the tub spout output. No time to measure as it was making too much of a mess.

    Here is my question. Is it possible that the seemingly innoculous "mixing chamber" within the faucet can get obstructed? I would think it is just a hollow chamber that connects two inputs (hot and cold) with two outputs (tub spout and shower head). The diverter is on the tub spout.

    Anybody have any ideas on this? I am completely bewildered. Thanks in advance!

    James B
    Last edited by JamesB; 01-09-2005 at 01:06 PM.

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    on many faucets, there is a metal screen on the input. This is to prevent any chunks from getting inside of the valve and messing with the seals or blocking things off. It is better to catch it prior to the valve than within it! So, it seems like it may be those screens a clogged. If you can find a parts list diagram for your faucet/tub filler, etc. maybe on the web at the manufacturer's site, it will give you an idea if there is one. On the faucets say at the vanity, there is also a screen on the aereator which, if clogged, will affect the flow. From what I read, the tub filler should flow in the area of about 6 gallons/min (that's just approximate - depends on pressure, and other things). The showerhead (if new) is maxed at about 2.5gpm. Some tub/shower valves could show this effect if the internal seals are bad.

    How old is the tub fixture? What brand? Do you know the model?

    Galvanized pipes become clogged, eventually, you'll need to replace them.

    Note, I'm not a pro.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member JamesB's Avatar
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    Thanks, Jim. I haven't seen the manufacturer's name printed anywhere on the faucet, so I'm not sure of the brand. UPDATE 1/8/05 - SHOWER HEAD IS LABELED "ALSON" AND MATCHES THE FAUCET DECOR. It is at least 3 years old. I am familiar with the screen on the aereator (bathroom sink), as that needs cleaning every month or so. Interestingly, there is a screen in the shower head which never seems to get a debris build-up. Maybe there is a screen at the faucet as you suggest. However, the faucet is sweated on, so I have no idea how one would (easily) get to it for routine cleaning.

    Other details on the shower faucet: The cartridge is a plastic cylinder with a hole in the bottom, and a hole in the side. The hole in the side aligns with a hole in a metal cylinder when opened. There is no debris in the cartridge.

    Your right about the galvenized pipes...there is a lot of build-up in them already.
    Last edited by JamesB; 01-09-2005 at 01:03 PM. Reason: Note Brand of Faucet

  4. #4
    DIY Junior Member JamesB's Avatar
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    Smile Problem Solved!

    There must have been an obstruction within the shower faucet body. This is how it was resolved, for those that may have a similar problem.

    First, I removed the tub spout, and turned on both hot and cold water. While the water was running, I took a hammer and tapped the faucet from behind, directly on the mixing chamber. Short, quick, machine-gun taps. Also tapped out along the faucet to each side, where the water enters. The idea was to shake loose any debris and have it flushed out. I did not bang on the copper pipes, and was a little leary about hammering too hard and causing a leak.

    Next, I capped off the tub spout, and removed the shower head. Using an ear-flushing bulb, I squirted some white vinegar into the shower arm. Also shot in some WD-40 prior to the vinegar. The idea here was to get enough solution into the faucet's mixing chamber, and allow it to soak. The original plan was to allow it to soak overnight, but a leak in the tub spout cap preventing soaking for any more than a few minutes. Removed the cap, and turned on the water. It was flowing strongly! I found a pellet-shaped piece of "calcium" on the floor of the tub...most likely the culprit.

    Tub/Shower flow is now nearly 2 gallons per minute....about twice as good as what it was, and a little better than the sink. Not as good as a new home, but liveable.

    Hope this info can be helpful to someone else. If so, I would like to hear.

    James B

  5. #5
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    I think you are on the right track. I have had 1/2 of a flat rubber washer break loose in the system and lodge in the mixing valve crossover. If you can run a hose from an outside faucet ahead of your main shutoff, connect it to the tub spout with the valve stems removed. Messy, but it can work.

  6. #6
    DIY Junior Member JamesB's Avatar
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    Default Photo of Culprit

    Great idea. I think that method is definitely worth a try. In my case, there was a water shut-off right at the tub, so the hose faucet would have been operational.

    I have posted a picture of the "culprit" as an attachment.

    James B
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  7. #7
    DIY Junior Member shannonhamilton's Avatar
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    Default Low water pressure - best showerhead I ever bought!

    I live in Maine and have a well. My water pressure has always been bad. My wife and my children have always complained that they can not rinse the soap off their skin or the shampoo out of their hair. I think that I bought and tried every shower head that I could ever find in every home center and hardware store in New England. They were all junk!!! Finally I found the solution at a small home show in Portland. A company was there that specializes in shower heads for low water pressure. Their name was Water Management in Boston, MA, and their website address is TAKEASHOWER.COM. They sold me a shower head that worked so well with my low water pressure that it almost felt like we had drilled another well. IT WAS UNBELIEVABLE!!!! Unlike all the other shower heads we bought this one actually worked. If you are suffering from low water pressure you MUST visit this website. I only wish that I had found this company 10 years ago when I first moved to Maine because I would have eliminated a decade of suffering in the shower for me, my wife and my family.

  8. #8
    DIY Junior Member John Reynolds's Avatar
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    Default Thanks for the advice

    I checked out www.takeashower.com after your blog. I asked lots of questions and decided to give the handheld a try. My wife and I are amazed with our shower now. She was very happy with their product and believe me she is hard to please. Thank you Mr. Hamilton for your tip.

  9. #9
    Homeowner geniescience's Avatar
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    i think this is a sybil attack where coordinating aliases help each other out. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reputat...tation_systems

    here we have two identities claiming to be real people, and of course this could give rise to claims of being sincere.

    i think that instead of deleting these posts and others with the same text, it could be good to edtit them down to a very small size so that they remain recorded.

    david

  10. #10

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    A Sybil attack is one in which an attacker subverts the reputation system by creating a large number of pseudonymous entities, and using them to gain a disproportionately large influence.
    I don't think 2 instances in 6 months qualifies as a sybil attack.
    But you are right. There is something very smelly in Denmark.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Verdeboy View Post
    I don't think 2 instances in 6 months qualifies as a Sybil attack.
    But you are right. There is something very smelly in Denmark.
    It is, while searching the same topic I found the following on a Yahoo board:

    I live in South Florida and have a well. My pressure has always been bad. My wife and two daughters have constantly complained to me that they cannot rinse the soap off their skin or the shampoo out of their hair. I think that I have bought and tried just about every shower head that I could find in any home center or hardware store in Florida - and nothing worked. Frankly they were all junk. Finally I found the solution via an online blog and it was a company in Boston, Massachusetts named Water Management. Their website address is WWW.TAKEASHOWER.COM . They sold me a shower head that worked so well with my low water pressure that it almost felt like we had drilled another well. Unlike all the other shower heads I bought this one actually worked! If you are suffering from low water pressure you must visit this website. I only wish that I found this company 12 years ago when I first moved to Florida because I would have eliminated years of complaining and lousy showers for me and my family.
    its ridiculously similar to what the user above submitted:

    I live in Maine and have a well. My water pressure has always been bad. My wife and my children have always complained that they can not rinse the soap off their skin or the shampoo out of their hair. I think that I bought and tried every shower head that I could ever find in every home center and hardware store in New England. They were all junk!!! Finally I found the solution at a small home show in Portland. A company was there that specializes in shower heads for low water pressure. Their name was Water Management in Boston, MA, and their website address is TAKEASHOWER.COM. They sold me a shower head that worked so well with my low water pressure that it almost felt like we had drilled another well. IT WAS UNBELIEVABLE!!!! Unlike all the other shower heads we bought this one actually worked. If you are suffering from low water pressure you MUST visit this website. I only wish that I had found this company 10 years ago when I first moved to Maine because I would have eliminated a decade of suffering in the shower for me, my wife and my family.
    This sort of thing really pisses me off, guess where I wont be buying any products.....WWW.TAKEASHOWER.COM!

  12. #12
    DIY Junior Member Ranger1's Avatar
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    Arrow Tried Takeashower.com Products

    Everyone -- stumbled on this forum doing my research for a low flow shower head...and had seen the prior posts both pro/con about the low flow heads from Water Management. I had two showers that I wanted better flow at -- my shower in the basement (previously a Delta with a handle), and a regular head that I suspect was original builder's equipment (can't find a brand name) in the master.

    My flow on the Delta in the basement was ok-- not great, but ok. The shower in the master was pathetic -- not sure if the water pressure is lower on the 2nd floor, or if the head was bad -- but just not acceptable performance. After reading on a few sites, I decided to try Water Management's Fire Hydrant (BTW-- agree with the prior posts--- uncommon similarity between sites that glow about the Fire Hydrant!)

    Anyway, installed the handled product in the basement and the typical head off the master. Flow is significantly improved in both places. Mostly this appears to be an artifact of smaller holes on the spray setting-- but the pressure is more pleasing and seems to "scrub" the soap off better. The massage setting actually works (didn't really do anything on prior heads-- not enough pressure). I'd tried a couple of other heads from Lowe's/Home Depot without being satisfied, so this was a nice resolution. Importantly, I didn't compare this to any other Low Flow heads I found on the internet, so I can't give any comparative thoughts. My wife was very happy with her new shower head as well. ("ooh" was the verbatim!)

    Net, while I wouldn't call these a 'miracle' from the engineering gods, they do do what is promised, and I'm satisfied. Also, it's clear that Water Management values their customers -- the heads were well protected by bubble wrap and packing peanuts-- teflon tape and spare washers were also included. (God knows, I have enough teflon tape, but it's still a nice touch.)

    I don't intend to be a regular poster here. My "day job" is marketing research -- so I know the importance of accurate info -- and wanted to provide a "real" review of the products discussed here. While I find 'fake' reviews deplorable, I guess it's a bit easier to forgive if the product lives up to its billing.

  13. #13
    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    It might be believable if all these were not coming from 1 post wonders...

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    DIY Junior Member Phil Lloyd's Avatar
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    LOL ... i clicked on your "eliminate bad advice" link.


  15. #15
    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    Now you will no longer get bad advice from Southern Man.

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