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High Efficiency Showerheads

Low Water Pressure or Clogged Shower Head?

David Malcolm - Monday, April 04, 2011

Quite often, a customer will tell a plumber or plumbing supply dealer that they have low water pressure when the problem is simply a clogged shower head—especially if the device is a low-flow model that restricts the stream of water by forcing it through small openings in a disk or diaphragm and then through a series of small holes or nozzles.

If your shower head dribbles instead of spraying, or if there are obvious deposits clinging to the nozzles, you can clean the thing by soaking it in vinegar for half a day, disassembling it, and working away with a toothpick and an old toothbrush.

Or you can toss it in the trash and buy a new one.

Or, better yet, you can buy yourself a showerhead that won't get clogged in the first place (such as a High Sierra FCS-100 Showerhead®).

Most low flow shower heads regulate the flow of water using an O ring over the top of a plastic disk with small holes in it. To keep large particles such as rust, flakes of solder, sand, or other debris out of this restrictor, there is often a fine screen between the restrictor and the water pipe. This screen is the first place to look for your clog.


If there is no inlet screen, the restrictor itself may be clogged with large particles. This is the next place to look for your clog. Unfortunately, with many U.S. made shower heads, you cannot get to this diaphragm to clean it.

Dissolved solids will cling to the nozzles when the shower is shut off, leaving behind a film of minerals. When this film dries out, the minerals form deposits that block the flow of water. This is the last place to look for clogging. Sometimes these mineral deposits are hard to dislodge.

If you are put off by the idea that your shower head is slowly losing its rinsing power and efficiency—or if shower head maintenance is not your cup of tea—consider getting a showerhead that will not plug up in the first place. The HighSierra achieves its 1.5 gpm flow rate through its patented design, not through the use of a restrictor disk with a series of small openings in it, or by forcing water through tiny holes or nozzles.

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