How to Remove the Flow Restrictor from a Shower Head (6 Easy Steps) (2023)

Many modern shower heads are fitted with a flow restrictor to help them reduce water waste. In the United States, regulations specify that shower heads must produce no more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute when they are sold (1).

While this is good news for your water usage and energy bills, it can also reduce the effectiveness of your shower. As a flow restrictor limits the amount of water that flows through your shower head, it weakens its spray. If your home already has low water pressure, this can reduce your shower spray to a trickle.

In most cases, a flow restrictor will not negatively impact your shower. If it does, however, many shower heads are designed to allow for easy removal of the restrictor. In this article, we will walk you through how to remove a flow restrictor from your shower head.

Keep In Mind

If you remove the flow restrictor from your shower head, your water usage and bills could increase significantly.

Table of Contents

  • What Does a Flow Restrictor Look Like?
  • How to Remove the Restrictor Valve
  • FAQs
  • Increase Your Water Flow

What Does a Flow Restrictor Look Like?

The flow restrictor is usually plastic, circular, flat, and has a star-shaped metal center. It is generally located behind a metal component that screws off in a fixed shower head. They can vary in color and have open inserts near their edges.

In a handheld shower head, the restrictor is often at the edge of the handle where it attaches to the flexible hose, behind the shower head, or inside either end of the hose. The manufacturer’s instructions should tell you where to find it.

How to Remove the Restrictor Valve

You will need:

  • An adjustable wrench
  • Cloth or towel
  • Paper clip
  • Plumber’s tape
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Screwdrivers

Removing a Fixed Shower Head Flow Restrictor

1. Disconnect the Shower Head from the Arm

To remove the shower head from the arm that connects it to the wall, unscrew it. You will often be able to do this by hand; if not, use a wrench.

  • Cloth: To protect the finish of your shower head and arm, wrap a cloth or towel around them.
  • Secure: Secure the nut before using the wrench, to avoid unscrewing the arm as well.
  • Unscrew: Use the wrench to turn the shower head counter-clockwise and unscrew it.

2. Remove the Mesh Filter

There might be a mesh screen inside the shower head to remove any sediment or impurities from your water. If your unit has one, remove it. You might need to lightly tap the shower head to dislodge it or use your needle-nose pliers.

(Video) How To Remove a Water Restrictor from a Showerhead

3. Remove the O-Ring or Gasket

Inside the shower head, there should be a rubber O-ring (gasket). Unfold your paperclip and then use it to carefully pry out the O-ring.


Try not to damage the O-ring. If you do, you will need to buy a replacement.

4. Take out the Flow Restrictor

You should now be able to see the star-shaped metal restrictor inside the plastic ring.

Place your unfolded paper clip under one part of the flow restrictor. Twist it and pry it up to remove it.

Quick Tip

If you can’t remove the flow restrictor with a paper clip, try using a screwdriver, or needle-nose pliers.

5. Replace the O-Ring and Shower Screen

With the restrictor removed, take the O-ring you removed earlier, or a new one if necessary, and place it into the shower head. Make sure it fits back into the spot you removed it from.

If you also removed a filter, reinstall that too.

  • Clean: Clean the shower filter screen by holding it under running water to remove any gunk before replacing it. If there is any scale build-up, soak it in a mixture of one part white vinegar and four parts water to remove it. Then, rinse the screen before reinstalling it (2).
  • Lubricate: You can lubricate the O-ring with some silicone grease such as this one from Trident. This will reduce the wear on your O-ring and help it form an effective seal.

6. Reattach the Shower Head

  • Remove tape and clean: Before screwing your shower head back into place, remove any old plumber’s tape from the shower arm threads. To do this, wipe them with a damp cloth. Remove stubborn deposits by scrubbing the grooves with an old toothbrush.
  • Apply new tape: Wrap some new plumber’s tape around the threads of the shower arm. Make sure you wrap it clockwise so it doesn’t unravel when you screw the shower head back on. Apply a few layers to ensure a watertight seal, and make sure all the threads are covered.
  • Reattach shower head: Screw the shower head back on by turning it clockwise until it is hand-tight, then turn the water on to check for leaks. You can always tighten it more by using a wrench over a cloth to move it a further quarter turn — but be careful not to over-tighten it as you could damage the connection.

Quick Tip

There may be more than one flow restrictor in your shower system. Check the owner’s manual to help you locate and remove them all.

Removing a Handheld Shower Head Flow Restrictor

Before proceeding, check your owner’s manual as the manufacturer will usually highlight where the flow restrictor is located. This means you won’t waste time and effort by disconnecting the wrong component.

(Video) How To Remove a Water Restrictor from a Showerhead

Method #1: If the Restrictor is in the Handle

  • Remove handle: Cover the shower head and nuts with a cloth to avoid damaging the finish, then use a wrench to unscrew the handle from the hose.
  • Remove components and reattach handle: Follow steps 2 to 6 of the previous method to remove the shower filter screen, O-ring, and restrictor, then screw the handle back on.

Quick Tip

If your shower head shows signs of dirt and mineral deposits, soak it in a solution of one part white vinegar and four parts water overnight before reinstalling it. This should remove the majority of scale (3).

Method #2: If the Restrictor is in the Hose

This method is largely the same as if it were in the handle, except you will need to remove it from the holder at the top or bottom of the hose. Remember to protect the finish of the hose and nuts with a cloth, and replace any existing plumber’s tape with fresh tape.

Method #3: If the Restrictor is Behind the Shower Head

Removing a restrictor located between the shower head and handle follows the same order as removing one from a fixed shower head as described above.


How to Remove the Flow Restrictor from a Shower Head (6 Easy Steps) (1)

Does a Shower Head Flow Restrictor Increase Pressure?

Shower head flow restrictors are designed to help save water and will not increase pressure. The role of the restrictor is to regulate the volume of water from the shower head.

How to Remove the Flow Restrictor from a Shower Head (6 Easy Steps) (2)

Should I Remove Shower Head Flow Restrictor?

To comply with the National Energy Act, makers of shower heads must incorporate a flow restrictor or flow controller into their products.

(Video) Shower Pressure Restrictor Valve | How to Remove Restrictor and Increase Water Pressure

But, if you live somewhere with low water pressure, the restrictor may cause your shower to only produce a thin drizzle of water. In this scenario, removing the shower head flow restrictor is worth removing, but note that your water bills may also increase.

How to Remove the Flow Restrictor from a Shower Head (6 Easy Steps) (3)

What Is the Max Flow Rate for a Shower Head?

Starting in 1994, the National Energy Act regulated the maximum flow rate for a shower head to a maximum of 2.5 GPM. This helps reduce water waste.

How to Remove the Flow Restrictor from a Shower Head (6 Easy Steps) (4)

How Much Water Does a Flow Restrictor Save?

Although everyone enjoys financial savings, the water savings that may be achieved with low-flow showerheads benefit society since they contribute to water conservation. As of 2013, more than 36 states in the United States are experiencing water shortages.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a typical family’s daily shower usage accounts for forty gallons of water.

Your household may save 2,900 gallons of water annually by switching from a showerhead with a flow rate of 2.5 GPM to one with a water-saving flow rate of 2.0 GPM.

It is estimated that 260 billion gallons of water might be saved annually if every household in the United States used this water-saving measure.

How to Remove the Flow Restrictor from a Shower Head (6 Easy Steps) (5)

How Do You Remove the Water Restrictor from a Moen Shower Head?

(Video) How to INCREASE WATER PRESSURE in Your Shower! End Poor Water Pressure

Cut off the shower’s water supply to avoid unwanted water sprays. Remove the shower head from the rest of the plumbing. Look at the nozzle to spot the flow restrictor (it looks like a small disk with a center hole).

Twist it counterclockwise and remove it. You might have to use a pair of pliers. Put the nozzle back in place and reattach the shower head.

Increase Your Water Flow

A water flow restrictor is integrated into showers to limit their flow rate and reduce water waste. In the United States, this means they cannot exceed 2.5 gallons per minute, but this can have the adverse effect of reducing your shower’s water pressure.

The methods listed in this guide have shown you how to remove the flow restrictor from your shower headand potentially increase its water pressure. This is a relatively simple process but, if you aren’t confident in your DIY abilities, you can always ask a professional to do it for you.

It can be tempting to simply remove your flow restrictor when you install the shower head for the maximum pressure possible. However, it is worth testing it with the restrictor first. Modern shower heads are designed to operate effectively at 2.5 GPM and you could significantly increase your water bills by removing this component. Depending on the model, removing the restrictor could also void your warranty, so check this first.

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How to Remove the Flow Restrictor from a Shower Head (6 Easy Steps)? ›

9. Do all shower heads have removable flow restrictors? All of ours do, but fewer and fewer on the market are removable and more convert each year to be the non-removable type.

Do all shower heads have removable flow restrictors? ›

9. Do all shower heads have removable flow restrictors? All of ours do, but fewer and fewer on the market are removable and more convert each year to be the non-removable type.

Why does my handheld shower head have no pressure? ›

Low pressure in a shower can be caused by several issues such as a clogged showerhead, a worn-out mixing valve, closed valve, leaking pipe, or even a faulty water heater.

How do I increase the flow of my shower head? ›

Most low-flow showerheads have a rubber pressure-reducing valve (called a regulator) to maintain a lower pressure. You can increase the flow by simply taking it out. You could also consider enlarging the hole that allows water into your showerhead with a drill to increase the amount of water coming through.

Is it illegal to remove shower flow restrictor? ›

Removing a flow restrictor is illegal according to the US Energy Policy Act of 1992, which limits the maximum shower water flow rate to 2.5 gallons per minute (GPM).

Does a flow restrictor increase pressure? ›

A flow restrictor will increase the pipe pressure on the upstream side of the restrictor. The increase in back pressure, coupled with the decrease in orifice size that the water can come through, results in a decrease in flow rate output (gallons per minute) but an increase in the flow speed and force.

What does a flow restrictor look like? ›

What does a flow restrictor look like? Before you remove the flow restrictor from your shower head, you need to know what it looks like. A water flow restrictor is usually a flat, circular, plastic piece. The center of the restrictor is shaped like a star, or similarly shaped, and comes in a variety of colors.

Do all new faucets have flow restrictors? ›

Please keep in mind that all new faucets since 1994 are restricted to conserve water per EPA code mandates. Older faucets had no restrictions.

What is the GPM of a shower head without a flow restrictor? ›

Since 1992, a maximum of 2.5 GPM is the federally mandated flow rate for new shower heads. This means no more than 2.5 gallons of water should flow out each minute. The GPM flow rate for shower heads has decreased over time.

How do you adjust a shower limiter? ›

Adjust the Temperature

Remove the limiter ring by hand or with small pliers and rotate it in the desired direction. Then place it back on the valve. The ring indicates the temperature stopping point. On thermostatic valves, rotate the dial counterclockwise to increase temperatures and clockwise to decrease.

How much water does a flow restrictor save in a shower? ›

Flow restrictors vary, but you can easily get fittings that restrict to 6 litres per minute, halving the water usage to an average of 30 litres per user. Therefore, a low flow shower head can save around 30 litres of water per shower.

Are high flow shower heads illegal? ›

National standard of maximum 2.5 gpm flow rate for shower heads was established through the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 1992 in order to save water. If the state, county or city of residency does not specify a maximum flow rates for shower heads, a 2.5 gpm shower head is the maximum one can get.

Why is there no hot water pressure in my shower but plenty everywhere else? ›

Well, if you're getting hot water everywhere else in the house but the shower, you most likely have one of these 2 issues: Your anti-scald device is set too high. Your shower mixer valve went bad.

Why is my shower not working no pressure? ›

The most common cause of low shower pressure is a blocked showerhead, as a result of limescale build-up. These blockages obstruct the water flow, leading to reduced pressure over time. Most showers are fitted with a filter, protecting the pipework from debris, but this can become partially blocked by scale.

Why do all shower heads have flow restrictors? ›

By managing water flow, a flow restrictor prevents built-up pressure from damaging pipes, appliances, and fixtures. Not only do flow regulators save you money by decreasing damage to appliances, but they also save water in lines with high pressure.

What color flow restrictor? ›

Package Content: You will receive 12 pcs water flow restrictors. Different colors tell different water flow specifications. Blue violet: 1.2 GPM, blue: 1.5 GPM, yellow: 1.8 GPM, green: 2.0 GPM, orange: 2.2 GPM and white 2.5 GPM water restrictor, and two matching rubber pads for free. Enough to meet your needs.

How often do you need to change a flow restrictor? ›

It is recommended that you replace the Flow Restrictor each time you replace your reverse osmosis membrane to keep your system operating at peak efficiency.

Do flow restrictors save water? ›

Flow restrictors belong on all bathroom and kitchen faucets. Each one can save you up to 5,000 gallons, or about $10 every year.

How can I make my water pressure stronger? ›

A quick and easy way to increase water pressure is to adjust the pressure-reducing valve, which can be found in your home, usually close to your water meter. If your pressure gauge reading was low, make slight adjustments to your regulator.

How do you adjust a water pressure restrictor? ›

The screw acts as a water pressure regulator. If you tighten the screw the water pressure will be more and if you loosen the screw the water pressure will be less. Turn the screw clockwise to tighten it and increase the pressure, or turn it counterclockwise to decrease the pressure. Do not be too hasty.

What is the disadvantage of flow restrictor? ›

Flow Restrictors

The disadvantage of this type of valve is that flow may be entirely obstructed. This in turn leads to the pump having to operate against closed valve conditions and to boilers and water chillers operating with insufficient flows.

Does removing flow restrictor increase pressure? ›

Removing the water restrictor will return your shower pressure to normal, but it may also increase your water bills.

How do I increase the flow rate of my faucet? ›

In most cases, the easiest way to increase a faucet's flow rate is by replacing the aerator. Try looking for a higher gpm model to allow for more gallons per minute. If you live in a low water pressure area, an aerator designed to restrict water flow might be reducing the flow too much.

Does a restrictor valve provide a constant flow? ›

The BT-Maric constant flow valves (sometimes called flow restrictors, flow limiters) are designed to deliver a pre-determined, constant flow rate for water and similar media regardless of the pressure variations.

Are all shower heads 2.5 GPM? ›

Standard shower heads use 2.5 gpm, but to earn the WaterSense label, a product must use no more than 2 gpm and still meet strict performance requirements. The EPA estimates that the average family could save 2,900 gallons of water per year by installing a WaterSense-labeled shower head.

How many GPM is a standard shower head? ›

Did you know that standard showerheads use 2.5 gallons of water per minute (gpm)? Water-saving showerheads that earn the WaterSense label must demonstrate that they use no more than 2.0 gpm.

What makes shower heads increase water pressure? ›

High-pressure shower heads increase water pressure either by decreasing the flow rate or using a compression chamber.

Can you increase shower pressure with shower head? ›

To get back to the important question - yes, a showerhead can help increase water pressure, and it can also do so while consuming less water than your usual fittings. Showery showerheads are designed to increase water pressure so you can experience a more enjoyable shower.

How do some shower heads increase pressure? ›

High-pressure showerheads maximize the pressure at the tap and have features that increase the flow of water through the showerhead. Sometimes this is accomplished by removing the flow reducer that is in every shower head as required by law, and sometimes it is designed into the showerhead, like a massage feature.

What shower head gives the most water pressure? ›

Best High-Pressure Shower Head

Waterpik's Powerpulse delivers an impressive 2.5 gallons per minute to get you washed off fast. This detachable shower head features seven different spray options—including three massage features—to help you customize your cleaning experience.

How many PSI is a typical shower head? ›

Most shower heads need between 40 and 60 psi. Check your home's water pressure and purchase a showerhead that will work for it.

Does a bigger shower head mean less pressure? ›

Because they're so much bigger than the average showerhead, but still provide the same amount of water (which can vary by water-saving mandate depending on where you live), it's just math: The same amount of water delivered across a bigger surface = less pressure.

What is a good shower pressure? ›

If your water pressure seems low, the first step should be to test how much pressure you're actually getting from the shower head. A typical home's water pressure should be somewhere between 45 to 55 psi (pounds per square inch).

Should I remove shower head flow restrictor? ›

While it is possible to remove flow restrictors from shower heads, we strongly advise against it for several reasons. Flow restrictors for faucets are an integral part of most aerators and it is generally not possible or desirable to remove them.

Why has my shower lost pressure? ›

The most common cause of low shower pressure is a blocked showerhead, as a result of limescale build-up. These blockages obstruct the water flow, leading to reduced pressure over time. Most showers are fitted with a filter, protecting the pipework from debris, but this can become partially blocked by scale.


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