Flow Restrictors regulate the flow rate of water from your handheld shower heads. This is necessary as per regulations in the United States. Regulations suggest that the water flow rate from showerheads should be not exceeding 2.5 gallons of water per minute. This lets shower head manufacturers to include flow restrictors by default. This will help you in cutting down the utility bills. However, at times when you look forward to soak yourself in water and have a relaxing bath, you may not get what you want. The problem becomes critical if the water pressure itself is low. In some cases, the water flow restrictor may also be clogged. So if you need to increase the water flow from your handheld shower head, then you can remove the flow restrictor. Though this is not a recommended course of action, you can still have it done at the expense of your utility bills. In this article, we will see how we can remove the flow restrictor from a handheld shower head in simple steps.
What are Flow Restrictors?
At first, let us see what flow restrictors are. Flow restrictors are used to reduce the water flow from showerheads so that water is not wasted. Thus they ensure that you can save on your utility bills. Made of plastic, they have a flat, disk shape with small holes which can convert the water stream into smaller streams. Overall, it looks, somewhat like a filter that can be removed or replaced with ease.
Location of flow restrictors
As we are dealing with handheld shower heads in particular, based on the model, there are actually three locations where you can have a flow restrictor. Different manufacturers have different placement designs for the flow restrictor and it is better to look into the user manual before proceeding with the process of removal of the flow restrictor. However, it is not gonna be a tough task and the flow restrictor will indeed be housed in an easily accessible location inside the shower head and this can be at any one of the three locations mentioned below:
- At the edge of the shower head handle
- Behind the shower head, or
- Inside the bottom end or the top end of the hose
Right tools can ease up the removal process. If you have these tools beforehand and they are easily accessible, then you can save time. So what are the tools that you need to remove the flow restrictor from a handheld shower head?
- An adjustable wrench
- A cloth or towel
- Paper clips
- Needle nose pliers
- A Teflon tape/ plumbers tape
- Flat head screwdriver
- Have the correct tools and ensure that they are easily accessible.
- Turn off the water flow through the shower tap. You can also turn off the main supply if you want. This will ensure that you do not end up with a mess later on.
- Handle the parts of the shower with care. As you use tools, there is chance of damaging the parts and as a result during reinstallation you may face issues. Parts like threads on the showerhead if damaged may make it impossible to adjust the showerhead. Other parts like O rings can also be easily damaged. Ensure that the shower hardware that is fixed on the wall remains intact during the entire process.
- It will be good if you have someone to help you in the process. So that it gets easy to have access to the tools and also you have somebody to have a check on you and you have safe hands to hand over the parts that you remove. This will let you do the work with more care and safety.
Now if you are ready with everything, let us see how we can remove the flow restrictor from a handheld shower head in simple steps.
How to Remove Flow Restrictor from a Handheld Shower Head?
Be patient and follow the steps properly for achieving the best results. You can also seek professional help if you are not sure on your own.
Locating the location of the flow restrictor
As said earlier with different manufacturers, the flow restrictor can have different placement designs. However, with handheld shower heads the options are narrowed to 3 locations. If you have a user manual, then you can save time. Look through the user manual so that you can have a better idea about the location of the flow restrictor. Or else, you can inspect the shower head thoroughly, focussed mainly on the three locations mentioned earlier and you will get to identify the location with ease.
Removing The Flow Restrictor
Now that you have identified the location of the flow restrictor, you may proceed to the actual work of removing it. If the flow restrictor is present,
At the edge of the shower head handle:
- Protect the showerhead connector nut using a piece of cloth or towel. With the help of an adjustable plier, hold the covered nuts in place. Rotate the showerhead counterclockwise so as to remove the shower head handle from the tube. If it gets difficult to remove the showerhead, then check if there is rust in the showerhead thread. In such cases, you can either lubricate the showerhead thread with silicone gel or apply a rust remover and leave it for sometimes before proceeding with the removal of the showerhead.
- At the edge of the shower head handle, look for shower screen. If present, you can remove it by gently taping on the shower head or else you may use a needle-nose plier to remove the same.
- Now as the shower screen is removed, you will get to see the rubber O ring gasket. Use a paper clip or needle nose plier and remove the O ring with care or else it may get damaged easily.
- Now you will have access to the water flow restrictor inside the plastic ring. You can twist and pull out the flow restrictor with the help of a paper clip, a needle-nose plier or a screwdriver.
Behind The Shower Head
- Protect the connector nut using a piece of cloth or a towel. Use the adjustable pliers to Hold the covered nuts in place using adjustable pliers, rotate counterclockwise and remove the showerhead from the showerhead handle.
- Shower screen if present can be removed by gently tapping on the showerhead or you may use needle-nose pliers.
- Now if the O ring is present, you can remove the using the same using a needle-nose plier or paperclip.
- Remove the flow restrictor by twisting and pulling it out. You may make use of a needle-nose plier, a screwdriver or paperclip, whichever seems handy.
Inside the bottom end or the top end of the hose:
- Detach the hose from the base of the handheld showerhead by rotating in a counterclockwise direction.
- Look for the water flow restrictor at the top or bottom of the hose.
- Once located, you can remove the water flow restrictor using a paperclip, needle-nose plier or a screwdriver, whichever is handy.
Reinstalling the parts
Now you need to reinstall the components in the reverse order.
- Take the O-ring and return it in the same spot from where you removed it. You may make use of paper clip or the needle nose pliers in the process. O ring if damaged needs to be replaced with a newer one.
- Now you need to return the shower screen. Remember to clean the shower screen, as it may have dirt, stain or build up deposited in it. You can rinse it under running water. For a more thorough cleaning, you can soak the shower screen in diluted vinegar mixture. You can seal the screen in place by lubricating it with silicone grease.
- Before reattaching the showerhead, you need to clean the showerhead if it has a lot of dirt. You can place the shower head in diluted vinegar solution overnight and clean off the dirt before reattaching it. Also, you need to remove the old plumber tape which is wrapped around the shower arm threads. Clean the threads using damp cloth or towel and scrub off the dirt from the grooves using an old toothbrush. Now you can wrap the new plumber’s tape around the shower arm threads in the clockwise direction. This should give enough seal to the showerhead. Now you can reattach the showerhead by screwing it in a clockwise motion and ensuring a tight seal using wrench if needed.
- Turn on the water and see the improved change in flow of water. Now as the water flow restrictor is removed, your water pressure is increased so be careful about the water usage and keep in mind not to waste it. If you encounter any leaks, you may have to detach the showerhead again and use more tape on the shower head arm which will further tighten the seal.