How To Remove Flow Restrictor From Handheld Shower Head

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In the United States, regulations state that every showerhead in your home must not produce more than a flow of 2.5 gallons of water per minute. As a result, manufacturers either place a water flow resistor valve to control the water flow from your shower head or design and set the showerhead itself to control the water flow.

While this is good news for you if you want to conserve your utility bills, it can deter you from havening an excellent shower experience. Areas where there is low water pressure are especially susceptible to experience showers with minimal water coming out of the showerhead.

Nonetheless, you can remove your water restrictor to increase water flow in your shower head. So today, we’re looking at a step-by-step guide on how to remove a flow restrictor from a handheld showerhead. But first, let’s define a flow restrictor.

What Is A Flow Restrictor?

Also known as flow limiters, these plastic devices are designed to limit the amount of water that flows through the showerhead. It is usually flat, circular, with a star shaped hole metal center. There are two primary types of shower heads, the fixed shower head, and the handheld shower head.

Moreover, different flow restrictors will have different colors. By and large, the material used to make the flow restrictors can withstand high water temperatures. They are also easy to remove or replace.

How Can You Identify A Water Flow Restrictor In A Handheld Shower?

In the newer showerhead models, you can locate the water flow restrictor in three different places:

  • The edge of the shower head handle
  • Behind the shower head
  • Inside the bottom or the top of the hose

Since different manufacturers will have different placement designs, consult your owner's manual to remove the water restrictor from the correct location. Nevertheless, you should see it as soon as you unscrew the handheld shower head from the rest of the shower.

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Tools You Need To Remove The Water Flow Restrictor

Before you start to remove the flow restrictor from the showerhead, you’ll need the right tools. They include:

  • An adjustable wrench or a pipe wrench
  • A cloth or tower
  • Paper clips
  • Some needle nose pliers
  • A Teflon tape/ plumbers tape
  • Flat head screwdriver

Please Note:

Most shower heads, like the Moen showerhead, have threads. Therefore, if you accidentally damage the threads in the removal process, it will become impossible to adjust the showerhead. This means you must remain careful throughout the process, especially if you’ll be using a wrench. Also, you should continually pay attention to the shower diverter gate pipe that is fixed on the wall. Hold it in place to prevent it from breaking or moving.

black shower head on white ceramics
Credits: https://unsplash.com/photos/VCUbsNJdZpQ

Other Things To Consider

  • When choosing the wrench you’ll use to hold the showerhead and the connector bent pipe, go for the lightweight option since it will give you a perfect hold.
  • Before settling on the screwdriver, look and measure its top part. Is it adjustable? If yes, then you have the right screwdriver.
  • Get a partner to help you through the process. We’ve mentioned that you need to be careful. Therefore, a second individual will help you with tasks like holding the pipe on the wall and removing the water flow restrictor.
  • Ensure you have stopped the water flow through the shower tap before you start the process of removing the water flow restrictor.

Once you have everything ready, this is how to remove the water flow restrictor.

How To Remove Flow Restrictor From Handheld Shower Head

Step 1: Identify The Restrictor’s Location

We mentioned that for a handheld showerhead, the water flow restrictor might be located in three regions. Therefore, find out where your restrictor is situated before you remove it.

Credits: https://www.pexels.com/photo/oval-mirror-near-toilet-bowl-1910472/

Step 2: Removing The Flow Restrictor

Once you’ve identified where the restrictor is located, start the process of removing it:

If It Is At The Edge Of The Shower Arm:

Use a clean rag or towel to protect the showerhead connector nut. Use the adjustable pliers to hold the covered nuts in place and start to rotate the showerhead counterclockwise. You can then remove the shower head handle from the tube.

Check and confirm whether your shower head has a shower screen. If it does, use the needle-nose pliers to remove the mesh filter screen or gently tap on the showerhead to dislodge the screen.

Once the screen is removed, you’ll see a rubber O ring gasket. You should carefully remove it using the paperclip. However, it would help if you were careful here because the O-ring is easily damaged. In case of damage, ensure you get a replacement before reassembling your shower.

Now that you have the screen and the ring out of the way, it should be easy to see the water flow restrictor inside the plastic ring. Take the paper clip in your tool kit, place it under the water flow restrictor, twist lightly, then pry and remove the restrictor. You can also use needle-nose pliers or a screwdriver in the place of the paper clip.

Suppose the needle nose pliers and the paper clip fail to remove the restrictor valve. In that case, sink your screwdriver in one of the holes in the restrictor valve. Turn the screw to loosen the valve and then pull the water flow restrictor out.

grey bathroom

 If It Is Behind The Shower Head

Use a clean cloth or towel to protect the connector nut. Use the adjustable pliers to hold the covered nuts in place and start to rotate counterclockwise. You can then remove the showerhead from the showerhead handle.

Check and confirm whether your shower head has a shower screen. If it does, use the needle-nose pliers to remove the filter screen or gently tap on the showerhead to dislodge the screen.

Once the mesh screen is removed, check to confirm whether your shower head has a rubber gasket. If present, you should remove it using the paperclip. However, it would be best if you were careful here because the O ring is easily damaged. In case of damage, ensure you get a replacement before reassembling your shower.

Now that you have the screen and the ring out of the way, it should be easy to see the water flow restrictor inside the plastic ring. Take the paper clip in your tool kit, place it under the water flow restrictor, twist lightly, then pry and remove the restrictor. You can also use needle-nose pliers or a screwdriver in the place of the paper clip.

Gray stainless steal shower
Credits: https://unsplash.com/photos/_tWMmC9CQXQ

 If It Is Inside The Bottom Or The Top Of The Hose:

To access the water flow restrictor, you merely need to detach the hose from the base of the handheld showerhead. The nut that joins the showerhead handle to the hose should not be difficult to open by rotating in a counterclockwise direction.

Once open, check whether the water flow restrictor is at the top or bottom of the hose. For instance, the restrictor is usually at the bottom part of the Waterpik shower head. Then take the paper clip in your tool kit, place it under the water flow restrictor, twist lightly, then pry and remove the restrictor. You can also use needle-nose pliers or a screwdriver in the place of the paper clip.

Step 3: Return The O-Ring

Take the O-ring you removed with the paper clip or the needle nose pliers and return it where it was in the showerhead. Ensure it lies perfectly in the same spot.

Minimalist type bathroom
Credits: https://www.pexels.com/photo/minimalist-styled-bathroom-with-tiled-walls-and-shower-cabin-6492399/

Step 4: Return The Shower Screen

Before you place the shower screen back into the showerhead, clean it by running it under some freshwater. This should remove any of the dirt that has been filtered into the shower over time. If it has a lot of dirt, soak the shower screen in four parts water and one part vinegar mixture. This should get rid of any stubborn stains.

Now that your screen is clean, lubricate it with silicone grease. The purpose of the lubricant is to protect the O-ring and help to seal the screen in place. Then place the screen back in its initial position.

 https://www.pexels.com/photo/modern-bathroom-with-shower-and-sink-6394563/

Step 5: Return The Shower Head

There are a couple of things you can do before you reattach your shower head:

  1. When you open the showerhead, you’ll notice an old plumber tape present. Start by removing it from the shower arm threads. Clean the tape by wiping it with a damp cloth or towel. Make sure you get rid of any stubborn deposits. You can do this using an old toothbrush, which should scrub off the dirt from the grooves.
  2. Once you are done cleaning, take your new plumber’s tape and wrap it around the threads of the shower arm. Your wrapping direction should be clockwise direction to ensure it doesn’t unravel during the process of reattaching the showerhead. Please don’t put too many layers, but make sure they are enough to give your showerhead a good seal. You should also ensure all the threads are covered in tape.

Now you are ready to screw the showerhead back in its place. Use a clockwise motion and make sure you have a tight seal using the wrench. However, do not over-tighten the showerhead. You can turn the water on to ensure there are no leaks.

Additional Tips To Consider

  • Once you start removing the showerhead, if you find that the connecting nut is not moving, refrain from using too much pressure. Check to see whether the thread on the showerhead is rusty. If rust is present, apply rust remover first and leave it for 30 minutes before removing the showerhead. You can also use some silicone spray to lubricate the showerhead.
  • Sometimes you’ll find that the showerhead has a lot of dirt. Therefore, before reattaching it, please place it in the water and vinegar solution overnight, clean the dirt, and then replace the showerhead on the shower when it’s clean.
  • Be meticulous throughout the process. Patience and taking time will ensure you do not make any mistakes. If you notice leakage after reattaching the showerhead, ass more tape on the shower arm to tighten the seal.
  • Also, consider seeking the help of a professional if you are not sure you can remove the water flow restrictor yourself.

Woman lifting her leg

Conclusion

The primary function of the water flow restrictor is to conserve water. Therefore, by following this step-by-step guide and removing the restrictor, you’ll increase your water pressure. However, remain mindful of the amount of water usage.

FAQs

Will you get flow restrictors in all shower heads?

Not every showerhead has a water flow restrictor. However, new models do have the restrictor as per the laws in the nation. The National Energy Act does oblige every manufacturer to include a removable water flow restrictor in the showerhead.

What are the benefits of using a water flow restrictor?

Water flow restrictors help to conserve water and energy. Therefore, you’ll reduce your bills and save water at the same time if you choose to use a water flow restrictor. Additionally, new showerhead models are set in a way that allows your water flow restrictor to offer you the right amount of water pressure. This means you have a choice on how you can use your fresh water.

Are there any disadvantages to removing the water flow restrictor?

Yes. Water is already a limited resource. Therefore, removing the restrictor prevents you from conserving water. Additionally, the more water you use, the more extra cash you’ll have to pay.

Can you increase your water pressure without removing the restrictor?

Yes, you can if you have an adjustable shower head. All you need to do is set the water flow how you prefer it, and you are good to go. Also, you can clean your Moen shower head to remove the buildup of hard water.

Is it possible to do a water flow restrictor replacement?

Yes, you can replace your water flow restrictor if the old one is not serving your needs properly anymore.

How often should you replace a water flow restrictor?

The duration it takes to replace your water flow restrictor will depend on certain factors, which include:

  • The type of water in your area. For instance, it’s easier to get a clogged shower head if you have salty water than if you have fresh water. Since clogging damages the restrictor, you’ll require more replacements in such salty regions.
  • The frequency with which you use your shower head will also influence the chances of replacing your water flow restrictor faster.
  • If you like high-pressure water, then you can be sure the replacement period will reduce as well.

If the water flow restrictor is replaced, will the new one increase the water pressure?

In most cases, the answer to this question is yes since the work of the restrictor is to ensure water comes out of your shower head with the proper pressure.

Mark Weber

Mark Weber

Mark started out as an electrical engineer before he became a licensed bathroom remodeling contractor. He loves writing about bathrooms and remodeling in his spare time, as it relaxes him to think of something besides work.

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