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Ways to make a crappy low-flow showerhead suck less OR slaying prehistoric plumber's putty? Answered

Moved into a new flat and they're into water conservation. Great. Has a low flow showerhead. Fine. Except that it's got the worst design known to mankind with hideously low water pressure and an unadjustable spray that conveniently directs the water everywhere but you. The problem is that this craptastic showerhead is cemented to the pipe with what appears to be fossilized plumber's putty. I can't cut the pipe, as the internet suggests, because this is an apartment and they will rain brimstone and damage fees down upon me. So, the question:

1. How do you get rid of seriously ancient and hardened plumber's putty?
2. If you can't, how might you make an attachment to go over a showerhead that could improve water pressure or at least improve the direction of the spray without decreasing water pressure?


Fit an electric power shower and remove when you move out.

That's... a pretty cool thing that I'd never heard of! But looking at google, without an exposed pipe, installations seem to require more plumbing and taking apart the wall than I really want to do in an apartment. I'm not experienced with that and I can't afford to pay if I screw it up. :\

Its a British thing. Our hotwater supplies are not usually pressurised at mains pressure, but by a header tank - which means that an upstairs gravity fed shower is pitiful.....

Hence Rick's comment and mine.


6 years ago

First, don't heat the shower head with anything other than hot water. Most have plastic, nylon or vinyl rubber parts inside and too much heat will ruin it.
Before doing anything else, try slipping a plastic bag over the shower head and filling the bag with white vinegar, Lime Away or some other calcium scale remover and letting it soak for several hours, then rinse and test it out to see if that makes a difference.
To remove the shower head, use a large pair of slip-joint pliers (Channel-Lock pliers). Line the jaws with a piece of scrap leather from an old belt or shoe and grip the tightening nut at the 9 o'clock position and pull straight down to the 6 o'clock position. Do this several times and you should be able to finish removing it with your hands. Don't apply any sideways pressure or the shower arm will loosen inside the wall.
Once it is removed you can clean, disassemble, or replace it.
Clean the threads before you put the head back on and use plumber's teflon tape to seal the pipe threads.

+1 and if you use two sets of pliers 180 deg's apart it makes it easier to direct all the force at the head and not twist the head pipe out of the wall. As a second option twist the head pipe out of the wall and replace both the pipe and the shower head.

Is there a specification for a low-flow head ? In GPM ? Its not impossible that you aren't getting even what a low-flow head is SUPPOSED to deliver, because its been fitted to a pipe which can't deliver a high pressure in the first place.

I know our water utility sent out "test kits" to see if the flow from our showers was excessive, but our normal flow head delivered "low-flow" perfomance anyway, since its restricted by a combi-boiler (instantaneous water heater)


If the head itself can't come off the pipe then take the pipe out of the wall. Most of the chrome pipes that come out of the wall for the shower head are threaded into the pipes behind the wall. You should be able to unscrew it and replace the pipe without damaging the wall. Generally the hole in the wall is large then the pipe and is covered with a chrome ring.

If the shower head is all metal, you could use a heat gun to soften up the plumber's putty. The other option is to add small amounts of mineral spirits to the joint until it dissolves it enough for removal. Unfortunately, I'm not aware of anything that can be added to increase the water pressure. It probably needs a good cleaning of hard water deposits if the thing sprays in all directions, except on you; so you might try soaking the shower head in a bag of vinegar, to remove any hard water.

I'm also not a fan of the low-flow shower heads, and I removed the restrictor piece from inside on our current home. In my opinion, you have to stand there for much longer to rinse yourself of soap with lower pressure; and would probably save more water if you could simply get clean faster...


I've never encountered a shower head that couldn't be unscrewed with the proper wrench, putty or not -- just be gentle and work it back and forth (not just in the unscrew direction)...

I've got an adjustable showerhead that goes from near zero or off to full torrent -- so if I want a long warm soak I can be on trickle - if I want clean I set it to bazooka.

You should send me a "bazooka" strength one... even mine isn't that good! ;-)

The art of metaphor crossed with hyperbole...what could go wrong?

Complain to those responsible that the head is "not fit for purpose" and therefore they have a contractual-responsibility to fix it. It may help to survey other tenants and have a few of you complaining about the same problem.