One of the most annoying things that can happen when taking a shower, besides not having hot water, is when your shower head stops working properly. The shower head can be clogged with minerals, or it may just stop working due to an internal failure. Whatever the case, it means your water stops coming out correctly.
There are some easy fixes that you can do on your own if you have some basic knowledge of plumbing and repair work, so you don’t have to call in a plumber every time something goes wrong with your shower head.
Diagnosing the Issue
If your shower head has normally been operating for the past month and then suddenly stopped, it’s hard to diagnose your shower head without knowing the details.
There could be a myriad of different issues depending on whether the water is going through or just a trickle that comes out or none at all.
No Water Coming Out of Shower Head
If your water isn’t flowing at all, it could be because there is a blockage somewhere in your pipes. Try one of these easy solutions before you call in a plumber.
Shower Head is Clogged
If no water is coming out of the shower, it may be because your showerhead is clogged. The culprits most likely include soap scum, mineral deposits, and tiny tree limbs. The good news: All can be easily removed! Here’s how to do it:
Remove any visible debris from inside or around your showerhead using a toothbrush or cotton swab. This will prevent further buildup and help get things flowing again.
It’s also good to clean your showerhead once a month with vinegar or baking soda (to remove hard-water buildup) or bleach (to kill mold).
Sometimes all it takes is a good scrubbing to unclog your showerhead. Remember that you need to change your water filter frequently if you have hard water. If you’re not sure how often, check with someone at your local hardware store or call a plumber for help (and avoid trying to unclog it yourself if you make things worse).
As a general rule, your water should flow through evenly and consistently when using a few gallons of hot water at once; if it isn’t, chances are something’s clogged.
When water is pooling at your baseboards or you notice brown or rust-colored stains on your bathroom floor, one of your pipes likely has a slow leak that’s creating a large amount of internal damage. You’ll have to have them removed and replaced before tackling other small issues like dripping faucets and clogged showers.
A major concern with pipe corrosion is that it can cause lead to be released into your water supply, which can cause severe health problems. So don’t take any chances—it pays to call in a professional as soon as you notice a problem.
It may be time to call a plumber if you notice water pressure dropping or discoloration in your bathtub. This could be caused by mineral build-up in your pipes, which might need a deep cleaning.
This should be done every few years by an experienced professional. The process usually involves running high-pressure water through clogged pipes to dislodge and break up any mineral deposits, followed by chemical treatment to keep minerals from forming again.
A regular DIYer can handle most other tasks when it comes to taking care of their plumbing system, but you’ll want to contact a professional for deep cleanings.
Piece of Metal Clogged the Pipe
A stopped-up pipe can quickly lead to an expensive plumbing bill. In addition, many homes have galvanized pipes, which are vulnerable to corrosion and thus subject to clogs caused by limescale buildup.
You mustn’t leave a blocked pipe untreated as it could cause further damage or leaks in your home. Homeowner’s insurance covers some—but often not all—of these expenses, so check your policy.
You may be able to unclog it yourself with a chemical treatment or sometimes with vinegar and baking soda. If you’re having trouble getting water through your faucet, check your pipes for limescale build-up before calling a plumber. Your plumber might have a few methods of unclogging your pipes that may be effective:
Pipe Cleaning and Removal
Unlike the deposits on top of the pipes, those accumulating inside aren’t immediately visible. That’s why deep pipe cleaning is so important: it ensures your entire line is thoroughly clear.
The best way to clean from the outside is to use a specialized rodding kit or cable tool that snakes through your drains, removing built-up particles before they cause a crack in the pipe walls. This process involves running a cable or wire through various lines and flushing them with special chemicals—and it only works if you have access to both sides of the wall!
Sometimes, it takes time and repeated application with different chemicals and materials. Still, you may often need an experienced plumber to access the inner workings of your drainage system.
Sometimes, the situation can be more complex. For example, if a pipe completely breaks in half, your plumber may need to install a new pipe before they can get you up and running again.
This is a reason why it’s important to have your plumber inspect pipes each year. Small cracks that go undetected for long periods can cause major damage further down the line.
That’s why maintenance is so important: catching problems early gives you more time to plan and budget for repairs before they get worse or require additional parts and tools. Remember, there is no quick fix when it comes to replacing pipes. But avoiding an emergency repair bill by having regular inspections could save you time and money in the long run!
Remove Clog Using Air Pressure
If a clog is in the pipe, your plumber may use an air hose to clean the pipe. Your plumber will insert one end of an air hose into your drain and direct it toward any blockages. They will then connect a small hand-held device that looks like a gun onto the other end of the hose and turn it on.
Shower Head is Old
If your shower head is ancient, you can replace it with a new one. You’ll get better performance and be able to save money on water and energy.
Choose a high-quality chrome or stainless steel fixture that’s easy to install and will complement your bathroom. If you need help choosing one that looks good, there are many options to choose from online.
Shower Water Diverter Valve Malfunction
There are usually two separate handles on your shower: One for hot water and one for cold. What’s less obvious is that these handles actually control a single valve located at a different point within your plumbing system.
Sometimes, the diverter valve may not open. This can cause water to drain out of the tub instead of out the shower. If your diverter valve is faulty, you may need to replace it or have a plumber come out and fix it for you.
While diverter valves are relatively simple, they are often not designed to be user-serviceable. The valve is either stuck closed, or some other problem with the unit is preventing it from opening properly. Unless you’re a professional plumber, consider hiring someone who knows what they’re doing if it malfunctions.
How to Fix a Shower Diverter Valve
If this is something you want to tackle yourself, here’s how to do it.
Before working on the diverter, turn off your shower’s water supply. Then, while working on the shower, keep everything that comes into contact with water clean—tools and parts included.
Unscrew and remove your drain cover to access your drain. Then, use a small piece of tape, such as painter’s tape, to seal off your drain so that no screws or pieces fall down into it.
This is especially important if you have a sloped drain pipe—there may be places where small pieces can fall down and get lost in your plumbing system. If you know someone who works in construction, they might have some plastic plugs that you can use instead of tape.
These are even more foolproof than using tape, but they aren’t as easy to find at hardware stores. The best place to buy them is a home center or a hardware store in larger sizes used for floor drains.
Grab a screwdriver and tighten up the screws behind the faceplate’s diverter valve. You don’t want to overtighten them; just make sure they’re nice and snug. If that’s still not fixed things for you, consider replacing your diverter valve entirely.
It is most likely the diverter that’s at fault and needs to be replaced. It is a very simple part, but it can be tricky to find because it might come with your shower head or faucet.
Ask a local hardware store about the part or look for it online. Once you know what you need, take apart the old diverter and replace it with the new one.
You should also clean out any leftover debris, as that could be causing the problem as well. In either case, installing a new diverter should solve your problems immediately.
Sediment Building Up in Hot Water Heater
When sediment builds up in your water heater, it can prevent it from reaching its maximum capacity. Typically, when too much sediment accumulates in a water heater, it won’t be able to heat enough water at once and will shut off.
When that happens, you’ll notice a significant drop in pressure and flow throughout your home until you turn on all faucets to clear them out. This indicates that there is way too much build-up inside your tank.
Over time, if nothing is done about it, you could face problems such as scale buildup or carbon buildup inside your pipes or the need for a new water heater altogether!
Shower Head is Leaking or Dripping Water
The first step to fixing a leaky or dripping showerhead is to determine exactly where it’s leaking. If your water is draining slowly, then it’s likely that your shower head is clogged with hard water deposits and minerals.
Shower Faucet Valve May Be Closed
Calcium deposits may have worn out internal parts of your shower faucet valve and may need to be replaced. This is an internal component separate from the head and different from the diverter. The shower diverter deals with changing the water from the tub to the shower. The shower faucet valve either turns your water on or turns it off.
Shower Head is Clogged
Over time, hard water and mineral deposits will build up in your showerhead. This buildup is mainly caused by high levels of calcium and magnesium in your water supply.
To get rid of these deposits, run a vinegar/water solution through your showerhead every couple of weeks to neutralize any buildup inside. Then, scrub down all surfaces with an abrasive sponge and rinse off any loosened minerals.
Check for loose parts in your pipes—especially if you recently moved into a new home or made some renovations. Loose parts can cause blockages that reduce water pressure throughout your house—and lead to drippy showers in every bathroom!