How to Remove a Water Restrictor From a Shower Head

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If you have a water-saver shower head, you probably know how they can feel underpowered sometimes. This is due to the water restrictor, also known as a flow restrictor, which many of them have inside. And while it’s not recommended, especially if you want to lessen your impact on the environment and save water, it is possible to remove the water restrictor. It’s not hard to do and only requires tools that many people have around the house.

What Does a Water Restrictor Look Like?

Before you remove the water restrictor from your shower head, you need to know what it looks like. A water 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. It’s found behind where the shower head screws off of the pipe coming out of the wall or at the end of the flexible hosing of a handheld shower head.
If you decide to remove the water restrictor in your water-saver shower head, you’ll probably see an increase in your water bill each month. If you decide to remove the water restrictor anyway, you need the following items:
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Pipe wrench
  • Clean rag
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Teflon tape

How Do You Remove a Water Restrictor From Your Shower Head?

How you remove a shower head to extract the water restrictor depends on the type of shower head you have at home. Many homes either have a shower head attached to a fixed pipe that comes out of the wall or a handheld shower head attached to the pipe above via a flexible pipe.
A common type of shower head in many homes, the embedded shower head is attached directly to the pipe that comes out of the wall. Screwed into place, it’s easy to remove the water restrictor from this type of shower head. Here’s how.
Step 1: Shower head removal: Start by removing the shower head. To do this, wrap a clean rag around the shower arm and connector nut. This helps protect them from getting scratched. Holding the arm firmly with a pipe wrench, loosen the nut with the aid of an adjustable wrench.
Step 2: Washer and screen: After you’ve removed the shower head, look for the washer inside of the connector nut. The washer is designed to create a seal to prevent leaks while also holding a filter or screen in place. You need to remove both to access the water restrictor.
Step 3: Extract water restrictor: You can extract the water restrictor by gently removing the washer with a pair of needle-nose pliers. You can then tap the bottom of the head against your hand to remove the screen. Using a flat head screwdriver, remove the water restrictor, which should now be visible.
Step 4: Replace the washer and screen: Next, replace the screen and the washer, pushing the washer into place using your finger. Remove the Teflon tape on the threaded pipe coming out of the wall, and wrap new tape around the threads in a clockwise direction.
  • Step 5: Reattach the shower head: Place the shower head back on the end of the pipe, securing the connector nut initially by tightening it with your hand. Once it’s snug, wrap the clean rag around the nut. Secure the shower arm using the pipe wrench, and tighten the nut using the adjustable wrench.
Handheld shower heads are another popular type of shower head. For the removal of the water restrictor, find out where it’s located by looking at the owner’s manual for the shower head or on the manufacturer’s website, because removal will be determined by the shower head brand.
Step 1: Shower head removal: If your handheld shower head is attached to the bottom of the handle, it’s a simple task of removing the shower head. Make sure to protect the connector nut by wrapping it in a clean rag. While firmly holding the nut with adjustable pliers, rotate the head counterclockwise to loosen it.
Step 2: Washer and screen: Next, look for the washer and screen, which sit in front of the water restrictor. Gently remove the washer using needle-nose pliers and the screen, either by using the pliers or by knocking against your hand.
Step 3: Extract water restrictor: Using a flathead screwdriver, remove the water restrictor. In some cases, the water restrictor is found inside the end of the holder where it connects to the flexible pipe. Use the steps above to remove the connector nut there to gain access to the washer, screen, and water restrictor.
Step 4: Replace the washer and screen: Once the water restrictor has been removed from the shower head or the handle, replace the screen back inside of the connector nut, and then place the washer on top of it to create a seal.
Step 5: Reattach the shower head: Next, remove and replace the Teflon tape. As a final step, place the connector nut back on the handle or flexible pipe and hand tighten it. Wrap the connector nut in a clean rag, and secure it in place by turning it a quarter turn with the adjustable wrench.
Once everything is back together, you’re all set to test out the water pressure in your modified showerhead. And while you won’t save as much water as before, you’ll have access to an increased water flow.

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