Water Pressure in Home

Is there any meaningful and effective way to increase weak water pressure in an upstairs shower? I just bought a house (my first, yay for me) and one of the things that I’m missing about my apartment is the strength of the shower spray. The old one could peel skin, but this one seems to have more of a prostate problem. It’s not the shower head itself, at least in terms of lime build up etc, it’s just that the water sort of…dribbles out. I like me a bracing shower in the morning and feel cleaner with a harder shot of water. Is there anything I can do, or am I doomed to simply weak water?

Does the city supply the water, or are you on a well?

The city supplies the water.

Is the house 80 years old?
Old pipes can develop blockages that give you weak flow.
I had to replace the galvanized hot water pipe to my kitchen sink when it suffered a blockage. Minerals had reduced the hole from 3/4" to less than 1/4".

Call the city of Elgin and ask them if there is a problem with water pressure to your address. If the city water pressure is good then the problem is inside your house.

The problem can be in the pipes or it can be in the shower head. If you are certain there is no problem with the pipes or shower head then you can try to remove the restrictor in the shower head which serves to make everyone conserve water. This is becoming more difficult to do (it used to be a matter of just pulling it out) so you might need to have a side “conversation” with a plumber buddy.

Welcome to the neighborhood. I live down the river in St Charles.

Thanks! The house is newer (2002) so I don’t think that old clogged pipes are the problem, and there seems to be fine water pressure in other places such as sinks and such, so I’m guessing that I’ll have to be having that chat with a plumber. My home inspector said that there’s a temperature regulator in there somewhere as well, and I’d like to raise the temp without cranking on the water heater too so perhaps there’s a small shower project coming up in the near future.

Ohhh, the JOYS you are missing! :wink:

You may just have had an old shower before, and are not used to the whimpy federaly mandated max. flow ones. They put a flow limiting washer in the heads to comply at first, but I’ve seen the new shower fixtures incorporate it into the water mixing valve. You used to be able to just remove the washer, you can’t do it with the newer stuff.

One thing that is done to keep pressure high in a building is to reduce the pipe diameter. It won’t do you any good if your experiencing the new mandated flow.

Unscrew your shower head. Look to see if there is a plastic disk inside it that has a very small hole in it.
Remove said disc. Don’t throw it away just yet.
Take a shower. If the water streams peel too many layers of skin off, take the plastic disc and drill the inner hole to a larger diameter.
Enjoy your shower.

Could it also be that the OP is used to the pressure resulting from a rooftop water reservoir?

Don’t take this as gospel, because these are vague memories, but as I recall if an apartmentt is more than X stories in size, city pressure isn’t capable of getting the water to the top floors. So the water is pumped to a holding tank on the roof, and then gravity is used to feed it to the floors below. So you can get significantly high pressure.

But if you’re relying on city water pressure, then if your shower is on the second floor (and possibly if your house is at a high elevation compared to the city average), you’re just not going to get as much water pressure.

Am I off the mark on that?

Noone has mentioned possible lime/calcium build up in the showerhead itself. this can drastically reduce shower “force/p[ressure” and the effect becomes drastic with a flow reduction washer.

Go to Home Depot, they Have a great product made by ZEP that is called "Calcium, Lime, Rust) . It is cheaper and more concentrated than the better known CLR product.

Unscrew the shower head, put it nozzle side down in a container just big enough for it, pour the “CLR” into the threaded opening, and fill the container. Let it sit for 15 minutes or so. Then slowly decant the liquid back into the product bottle (it will still be quite potent).

WARNING: wear rubber gloves when dealing with the CLR Product it is very hard on skin and nails, do not get it in your eyes, and don’t drink any.

Hope this helps.



No, you are spot-on as usual.

Chief is also correct in recommending to phone the water supplier to see if pressure problems exist in that part of town. 3 years ago I moved to the western side of our town, which is the higher side (topographically speaking) and thus has lower water pressure, because all of the tanks on the system have the same overflow level (and 4 of 5 are situated on the ‘low’ side of town).
Since the city annexed some land more to the west of us, there is talk of using a separate system for that even-more-elevated part of the world. If so, they could change up the feed for our lines and we would get better pressure.

It’s all about hydraulic head (but you knew that). :wink:

Modern bathrooms a required to be equipped with anti-scald valves. That’s why you don’t see installations see one knob for hot & one for cold on new construction. Regardless of whether the valve has a flow limiter to limit water wastage (ie shower enjoyment), many of these are pretty wimpy in capacity to begin with. They have to limit the hot flow to something they can choke off quickly if the cold supply quits.

Safety first. Brought to you by the Department of Nanny Knows Best.

Do you have an access panel to the plumbing works? Maybe you’re screwed and they used small piping that just won’t deliver the volume/pressure on your upper floor.

I could could pick up a shower head in Windsor. I’m usually there Fridays of late.

Make sure the shower head is not a low flow type. Also, some newer homes are being plumbed with PEX (cross linked polyethylene) tubing. There are widgets that go on the bends to keep it from kinking. If one of those were improperly (or not) installed, it would seriously restrict the flow. Does full cold produce the same flow as full hot? if not, then I’d suspect a problem in the hot or cold water run. This may be hard to test if you have the anti-scald mixing valve setup.

The upstairs shower should only be about 10’ above the downstairs shower. That is around a 7 psi drop. Not much considering that typical water pressure is in the 60-100 psi range. Also, the flow varies as the square root of the pressure, so going from 60 psi to 53 psi should only change the flow by about 6%.

If it is related to the city supply, you could install a booster pump and pressure tank. You should consult a pump supplier that sells multiple brands about this, not a plumber. A plumber will probably come up with something that will work…a pump expert will come up with something that will work AND minimize power consumption.

[nitpick] What you are probably facing is not a pressure problem, but a flow /volume problem.
Even with old calcium encrusted galvanized pipes, the same static water pressure will be measured at any faucet. However the further you get from the supply the lower the flow. Pascal’s Law [/nitpick]