Help! Water Won’t Come Out Of Shower Head

Water Won't Come Out Of Shower Head

When you’re expecting a relaxing hot shower, nothing’s worse than water barely coming out of the shower head. Whether you’re getting a slow trickle, an unevenly dispersed spray, or no water at all, it’s undoubtedly frustrating. Figuring out the problem is your first step to getting the water flowing again.

When water doesn’t come out of the shower head, it could simply be because it’s dirty or because of clogged pipes, bad washers, or a leak. In some cases, the diverter valve could be faulty or broken if you’re dealing with a shower-tub combo. Or, you might need to replace the shower head entirely.

If you’re dealing with a faulty shower head, your best first step is to make sure it’s clean. After a good cleaning, if it still gives you problems, you can move on to other troubleshooting steps. But first, here is an overview of the possible reasons water isn’t coming out of your shower head.

Why Won’t Water Come Out Of The Shower Head?

Your shower head can start to trickle, spray water at weird angles, and do all sorts of unpleasant things for many reasons. Here are some of the most common.

1. A Dirty Shower Head

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A dirty shower head is a fairly common reason for lack of water. If you’re getting just a few random sprays out of certain holes and nothing from others, this is an even bigger clue. Your shower head likely has lots of mineral buildup blocking proper water flow, and you should clean the shower head.

You can check this in a pinch by removing your shower head and examining the inside. Take a good look at the outside, too, as it’s also likely in need of attention.

A homemade remedy of white vinegar is an excellent shower head cleaner. Or you can opt for a store-bought CLR cleaner.

To properly clean your shower head, check out our how-to guide at the end of this article.

2. There’s A Leak

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If you have barely any or no water coming from your shower head, there’s a strong possibility a leak is to blame. There could be a crack or break in a pipe right behind the shower wall or further down the line.

Regardless of the leak’s location, water seeping out of a broken pipe will mean less water makes it to your shower head. Broken pipes are a significant culprit when it comes to low water pressure.

If you suspect you have a leaky or broken pipe, it’s best to call a plumber. It will likely involve going behind the wall to repair or replace the pipe. If the pipes are leaking due to age, you may want to consider replacing all the pipes.

3. Clogged Pipes

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Instead of a leaking or broken pipe, another possibility is there’s a clog somewhere. Just like gunk and funk can build up in the shower head, they can also accumulate inside the pipes. Then, a clog in the main line, or anywhere in the pipes leading to the shower, will block the water flow from the shower head.

Many things can clog your pipes, especially mineral build-up and scale that forms over time. If your area has hard water, mineral buildup is even more common.

While you can attempt to get rid of scale with a CLR cleaner, this is only a temporary solution. If you don’t want to keep dealing with the same problem, you should focus on long-term fixes.

One option is installing a water softening system that removes the hard minerals from the water. Another option is to replace your pipes with a limescale-resistant material like PEX piping.

If you have older pipes, corrosion and rust could be creating a clog. You might even have a chunk of metal break off a pipe and lodge within it or near your shower head. If you’re dealing with corroded pipes, call a plumber to replace them–it’s time for an update.

4. Disintegrated Washers

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Various components of your plumbing system and shower mechanism feature washers to help form a watertight seal. However, rubber washers in the shower head, a shower hose with a handheld unit, or even the taps can disintegrate over time.

When this happens, the bits of rubber can make their way through the pipes and land inside your shower head. When you remove the shower head and peek inside, you will see these rubber bits. Remove them and examine the rubber washers throughout the system.

If you notice they’re worn, replace them. If they are in more challenging locations, like the taps, call a plumber. It’s necessary to make sure the taps are seated properly after replacing the washers.

5. Broken Diverter Valve

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If you have a shower and tub combo, there could be an issue with the diverter valve. This is the knob or lever that you turn to direct water from the bathtub faucet to the shower head. In some cases, you might end up with water coming from your tub faucet and shower head at the same time.

Other times, you’ll turn the diverter and get no water at all from the shower head, or it keeps coming from the tub. In any case, this signals an issue with the diverter valve, and you should replace it. Or, if not ready to take on the task yourself, it’s best to call a plumber.

How To Clean Your Shower Head


As previously mentioned, a primary reason for no water coming out of the shower head is that it’s dirty. If you discover this is the case, you can follow the steps below to clean your shower head.

Tools You Need For The Job

  • Dish soap
  • Scrubbing brush
  • White vinegar
  • Large plastic bag
  • Towel or rag
  • Needlenose pliers
  • Pliers or wrench
  • Paperclip

Step One: Clean The Outside Of The Shower Head

Use a scrubbing brush and some warm, soapy water to scrub the outside of the shower head. This can help loosen up buildup and get rid of any big bits blocking the outside of the holes.

Step Two: Remove The Shower Head

Loosen the shower head by holding the pipe in place with pliers while turning the nut with the wrench. Place a rag between the pipe and pliers so you don’t scratch the pipe.

It’s vital to hold the pipe in place not to break it when loosening the shower head. Once you loosen it, you can finish removing it by hand.

Step Three:   Remove The Washer And Filter Screen

Examine the inside of the shower head first for any big pieces of debris. Remove anything you see. Then, using the needlenose pliers, remove the rubber washer and filter screen.

Clean the filter screen with some dish soap and rinse it off thoroughly. If the washer is worn, this is a good time to replace it.

Step Four: Soak The Shower Head In Vinegar

It’s important to submerge the shower head fully in vinegar. Fill the plastic bag with white vinegar, put the shower head inside, and seal the bag. Then, let it soak overnight to loosen up and remove mineral deposits.

Step Five: Get Rid Of Remaining Buildup

The following day, remove the shower head from the bag and use the paperclip to remove remaining buildup inside the holes.

Step Six: Replace The Shower Head

Replace the clean filter screen and washer and screw your shower head back into place by hand. Then, holding the pipe in position with the rag and pliers, tighten the shower head with the wrench. Do not overtighten.

Step Seven: Run Hot Water

Once you’ve replaced the shower head, run hot water for about two minutes at full pressure to flush any remaining deposits.

If you prefer, you can attempt to use a product like CLR, specifically designed to tackle calcium and limescale. If you choose to go this route, it’s imperative to follow the instructions on the bottle. You might need to dilute the solution with water before using it on your shower head.

Do You Need A New Shower Head?

If water still doesn’t come out after cleaning the shower head, you could need a new one. First, make sure none of the other above-mentioned reasons are to blame.

If not, simply follow the steps above for removing the old shower head and then install the replacement. You can always call a plumber, but you might want to attempt the DIY route at least. Replacing a shower head is relatively straightforward, and you can save some money by doing it yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to maintain a shower head?

When you clean your shower, don’t forget to clean the shower head. Scrub the outside with a scrubbing brush and cleaner to avoid build-up on the outside. This will help reduce buildup from forming on the inside of your shower head.

You can go the extra measure, and every six months, remove the shower head and soak it in vinegar. This way, you can eliminate the significant accumulation of mineral buildup that can cause problems over time.

How much does a shower head cost?

You can buy a basic shower head for about $12, but you can go for a more high-end option and pay close to $100. When you start opting for rainfall showerheads and those with special features, you’ll pay higher prices.

For a good-quality shower head that doesn’t break the bank, you can expect to pay about $25 to $45 on average.

What is the maximum flow rate of a shower head?

The flow rate is how much water comes out of your shower head each minute. It’s usually designated as GPMs or gallons per minute. The maximum flow rate for a shower head should be 2.5 GPMs.

If your shower head’s flow rate is more than this, you need to replace it. To determine your shower head’s flow rate, grab a bucket, timer, and measuring cup.

Run cold water full blast from your shower into the bucket for 10 seconds. Measure the amount of water using the measuring cup (or use a bucket with measurement markings).

Multiply the number of gallons by 6 to determine the GPMs. If your measurement is in cups or ounces, convert it to gallons first. (There are 4 quarts or 16 cups in a gallon.)

So, if after 10 seconds you end up with 6 cups of water, this equals 0.375 gallons. When you multiply this by 6, you learn your shower head has a flow rate of 2.25 GPMs.