Our Shower Head Is Making My Head Hurt

Our shower in our master bath is starting to drive us crazy.

There’s a small drip at the top of the head that, if we forget to close our bottles completely, will actually cause water to infiltrate our soap or whatever happens to be underneath it.  My wife uses special face wash that isn’t cheap, and she had a few dollars of it ruined because the bottle got filled with water.

It has also taken to making a very obnoxious whistling sound when running at certain temperatures.  Of course, those temperatures are the exact temperature which we actually use to take a shower.

I’ve done some digging and found that the whistling is most likely caused by buildup of water deposits somewhere in the jets.  The most common suggestion I saw to fix this was to fill a bag with half water and half vinegar and submerge the shower head in this overnight.  I did this but it didn’t seem to fix the problem at all.

People have suggested actually taking off the shower head to clean it, which I haven’t done.  I might try this as the next step, but I’m wondering if it’s worth it to just replace the shower head altogether.

It’s definitely an upgrade over the basic shower head that was probably installed during construction as it’s a ‘Shower Massage’ type.

One of the things I wanted to do was to make sure we get a lower flow shower head if it were possible.  Water bills are, for some reason, my least favorite bills to pay, and I thought any opportunity to cut this would be very welcome in my book.  I found that, most ‘low flow’ shower heads advertised at 1.5 gallons per minute on the very low end to 2.5 gallons on the high end (but were still considered ‘low flow’.

I actually did a test and found that ours is, right now, using 1.5 gallons per minute.  This confuses me because I haven’t seen ANY ‘Shower Massage’ models advertise at anything less than 2.5 gallons per minute (which is what the current equivilent model advertises at), so I am not sure how we’re achieving this rate.  The stream of water is more than satisfactory, so I was very surprised to see this rate with the current head.

And, it makes me hesitant to actually replace it because the last thing I want to do is actually increase our consumption.

Could there possibly have been a regulator or something installed behind the shower head?

Still, we are not willing to live with the whining and dripping for much longer, so something will have to be done.  I’ve replaced shower heads in the past, so the actual work involved to do it will certainly end up being a lot less involved than deciding whether to replace it or not, and if so, what to actually replace it with!

Update: The first attempt at a repair didn’t prove fruitful.

7 thoughts on “Our Shower Head Is Making My Head Hurt”

  1. Wow, is that an annoyance!

    IMHO you should try taking the unit off (be careful: my ex-DH once broke off a pipe inside the wall trying that)and soaking it in vinegar or Lime-Away. Get a soft bottle brush and, after the contraption has soaked in an acetic bath for a few hours, scrub everything you can reach and poke the bristles through the little holes. You may have to do this more than once.

    If that doesn't work…alas. New shower head time!

  2. @Funny – Thanks for the tip on making sure not to break a pipe. Wouldn't that be my luck? I'm thinking that process sounds like a good Sunday project.

  3. I've never really liked the massaging shower head thing. If it were me I'd find a regular shower head that has about the same flow rate as the one you have and replace it.

  4. I had a similar problem at an apartment once. My father in law is pretty handy and said there is some tape (teflon tape) that goes around the threads where the shower head connects to the pipe. It needed to be redone.

    We also bought CLR at the hardware store to clean out the buildup in the holes where the water comes out. It worked like a charm and really helped get scum off the shower walls.

    Sounds like an informercial, but it was worth the < $5 it cost to try it.

    Here's a link on some of the teflon tape: https://www.wikihow.life/Fix-a-Leaking-Shower-Head

  5. @Kevin – Yeah, I have teflon tape on my list of things I need to get on my next run to the hardware store. Everything about the shower head except for the whining is great, so I'm hopeful that cleaning it out and re-mounting it will do the trick.

  6. I definitely would take another stab at dejunking it before replacing. A good shower head is expensive, so if you can clean, I'd do that first.

    Ditto about the teflon tape. Make sure you wrap it in the direction of the threads, otherwise, you will just rip it again when you tighten the fittings.

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