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There are a number of different reasons why water isn’t coming out of your shower, so solving the problem requires a little investigation.
The good news is that this article is going to guide you through each of the possible causes, along with detailed instructions on how to repair your shower so that the water is flowing again.
1. Clogged Showerhead
Clogging is a common issue with showerheads. Sediment and large particles of rust and dirt can wash through and block the head. A blockage can be at the neck or deep inside the spray head at the nozzles.
How to Fix a Clogged Showerhead
Unscrew the showerhead from the arm or the hose and inspect for blockages at the screw end. You can try to wash out the showerhead under a faucet. You can also try soaking it for a few hours in warm soapy water to loosen any build-up of dirt.
2. Old Showerhead
Whether plastic or metal, an old showerhead will degrade, swell, and crack. Over time small imperfections from corrosion will disintegrate and grow. These turn into particles that will stop the flow of water through the showerhead.
How to Fix an Old Showerhead
There is not much you can do with an old showerhead other than replace it. It may cost you more money to restore the old showerhead than to buy a new one. You can try repairing the cracks with epoxy, but replacing the showerhead is a better solution.
3. Faulty Diverter Valve
Diverter valves control the flow of water from a bath’s nozzle to the shower hose. Like a faucet, this valve will degrade over time and will clog up with limescale and grime. The seals will also fall apart, and sometimes the shaft connecting the handle to the valve will snap.
How to Fix a Faulty Diverter Valve
Shower diverter valves use independent cartridges to change the direction of the water. Sometimes these get stuck, but you can loosen them with spray oil. You can also try taking the cartridge out and soaking it in vinegar for a few hours, then rinsing it out and reinstalling it.
4. Sediment Build Up in Your Water Tank
Your water heater will collect a lot of debris and limescale over many years of use. As the limescale comes off in chunks, it can end up being sucked up into the exit pipe to your shower, restricting the flow or shutting it off completely.
How to Fix the Build-Up of Sediment in Your Water Heater
Turn off the water supplying the tank and release the pressure by turning on all the faucets until they stop running. Turn off the faucets, pour a gallon of vinegar into the tank, and let it sit for a few hours. Let the water flow back into the tank and try to use the shower.
5. The Main Shut-Off Valve is Clogged
If you have a water tank that drains faster than it can refill, it will stop the flow of water to the showerhead first. The main valve may be clogged, causing a delay in refilling the tank. If the inflow of water is too slow, the tank may even drain to empty.
How to Fix a Clogged Main Shut-Off Valve
You can try using an electric descaler next to the valve, as this may loosen up the calcium enough to get it working. If the problem is near your water meter, you can shut off the water and replace the valve. But, if you still have low pressure in the shower after replacing the valve, you need to look at other possible problems.
6. Showerhead Seal Damaged
The showerhead seal prevents water from leaking out at the neck of the head and helps keep the pressure high. Without it, you will see water running out of the back of the head and low pressure in the shower.
How to Fix a Damaged Showerhead Seal
Unscrew the showerhead from the shower arm and remove the rubber washer. Put a new washer in and screw the head back onto the hose or arm. If it is still a loose fit, you can try using two or three rubber washers to make a seal.
7. Wrong Showerhead for the Arm
You may damage the shower arm by trying to fit the wrong size of showerhead onto it. A poor-fitting showerhead will leak water, but it may also crush the rubber seal into the collar of the head, blocking or slowing the flow of water.
How to Fix the Wrong Showerhead for the Arm
Unscrew the showerhead and inspect the seal for damage. If you like your showerhead, the best thing to do is replace the showerhead arm with one that fits.
If it is a loose fit, you can try changing the rubber washer to a larger one or use pipe tape to fill in the space between the screw of the collar and the arm.
8. The Water Pressure Is Too High
A powerful shower is more enjoyable, but the high pressure may damage the jets and seals on the showerhead. If the pressure is too high, the diverter valve or the faucet valve may struggle to open or close, and it may even damage the seal.
How to Fix High Water Pressure
Try installing a pressure regulator on the main water pipes of your shower or your whole home. The regulator will allow you to control the pressure and prevent damage to your shower. A regulator will also protect any of your home appliances that run off the same water supply.
9. Low Water Pressure
Showers running from non-pressurized water tanks may suffer if the tank is too low. Low water pressure in the shower is common with homes in high points in rural areas. The showerhead is one of the highest points in your home, and appliances like washing machines will pull pressure away from it.
How to Fix Low Water Pressure
You can even out the water pressure by installing a water tank high up, but another solution is a booster pump. A booster pump will cost more to run, but they take up little space and can work out of sight without a water tower.
10. Dirty Gauze Filter
Many showerheads will have a metal gauze before the rubber washer that leads to the neck of the showerhead. This catches dirt, but it can also block up with a combination of grit, limescale, and other objects in the water.
How to Fix a Dirty Gauze Filter
You may need to separate several gauze layers and clean them up. If it is limescale, you can dissolve it in vinegar and scrub the gauze with an old toothbrush to remove corrosion and larger particles. If you can, it is better to buy a new gauze washer than to restore the old one on your showerhead.
11. Frozen Pipes
Depending on where you live, frozen pipes are common wintertime issues. A mild freeze may block your pipes with ice but leave them intact after melting. If you are unlucky, your pipes may split in the process of thawing.
How to Fix Frozen Pipes
Pipe lagging will protect your pipe in normal freezing weather but not a blizzard. The freezing often happens at night when no one is using the water and the flow stops. Outdoor freeze protectors use a special valve that opens up as it hits freezing and allows water to drip out, protecting your pipes.
12. Broken Washers on the Cartridge
The cartridge behind the shower faucet’s handle may have a faulty or broken seal. Age, hot water, and hard water can all contribute to the damage. There may also be signs of a leak in the wall behind the shower faucet.
How to Fix Broken Washers on the Cartridge
Remove the control handle and take out the cartridge. Inspect it for seal damage. You can soak it in vinegar to dissolve build-ups of calcium. The mechanism is difficult to fix, so if there is damage, replace the cartridge with a new one.
13. Clogged Shower Hose
The shower hose, like the rest of the water pipes in your home, can collect dirt and sediment over the years. More often, this build-up is at the metal collars that screw into the faucets and the showerhead.
How to Fix a Clogged Shower Hose
Remove the hose and inspect it for damage. If it is sediment, submerge the entire hose in vinegar for a few hours. Make sure the vinegar gets through the whole hose. If limescale corrosion is the issue, replace the hose and install a limescale remover on your side of the water meter.
14. Broken Pipes
The lack of water coming through the showerhead may be a sign of a bigger problem. You may have a broken pipe inside or in the ground leading up to your home. You may not even see any signs of a leak, but you could still be losing tons of water.
How to Fix Broken Pipes
Turn off all faucets and water-consuming appliances in your home and go to your water meter. It should be still and not counting. If it is moving you counting, turn it off at the valve closest to the meter and call in a plumber for immediate inspection.
15. Water Cut
If you have no water coming out of the showerhead, then there may be no water anywhere in your area. The main water supply may be off in your home, but it may also be off in your whole neighborhood. The local authority may be working on a burst pipe or the connection to a new mains supply.
How to Fix a Water Cut
You should check to see if water is coming out from any of the other faucets in your home. If not, check to see if the water is turned off to your meter and your neighbors. There may be a general water cut, or you could have forgotten to pay the bill.