How to Remove the Flow Restrictor in a Shower Head

To aid in water and energy conservation, all shower heads in use in the United States contain an internal plastic or metal piece that acts as a flow restrictor and limits the amount of water through the head at any time. Removing this small restrictor allows more water through to the head and increases flow and pressure during showers. This also increases water and energy consumption at the same time, raising utility costs. If you want a stronger flow in the shower, though, this is your best solution.

  • Clean cloth
  • Locking pliers or adjustable wrench
  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Teflon tape
Place a cloth over the shower head connector and grip it tightly with an adjustable wrench or locking pliers. The cloth will help protect the shower head's finish while you apply counterclockwise pressure to remove the head. Hold the water feed arm while turning to avoid bending the pipe where it comes out of the wall.

Remove the small rubber washer just inside the head. A flat-head screwdriver may be required to pull the washer from the head, but be gentle so that you don't damage it or the internal threads.

Remove the plastic flow restrictor from the shower head. There are a few types used and each removes slightly differently. Some need to be unscrewed; these generally have small tabs to grab and twist with needle-nose pliers. Others just sit inside and are held in place by the rubber washer. Finally, some snap into place and will pop out if pulled by pliers.

Replace the rubber washer where it was originally located. If the washer is damaged, replace it with a new washer available at any home improvement or hardware store. Wrap Teflon tape around the threads of the shower arm protruding from the wall.

Reconnect the shower head to the arm by hand until it is snug. Use the cloth and wrench to tighten it a half-turn to ensure it is watertight. Run the shower for a few moments to see if there are any leaks and to verify the increased flow. Tighten a little more to combat any leaks.

Tips and Warnings

  • Keep the restrictor in a safe place in case you want to reinstall it in the future.
  • In areas with low water pressure, removing the flow restrictor may not help at all. Contact your water company for possible causes.

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