5 Common Shower Problems (and How to Resolve Them)

Lawrence Bonk
Written by Lawrence Bonk
Updated January 21, 2022
Bathroom with plants shower and tub
Photo: Monkey Business / Adobe Stock

Make sure your shower is a sanctuary, and not an obstacle course

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Nothing beats a hot shower or bath. These brief vacations from the real world allow us to clean both our minds and bodies, giving us a much-needed recharge. However, showers are prone to all kinds of repair and maintenance issues, which turn this steamy sanctuary into an anxiety factory. 

What common shower repairs are DIY-friendly and which are better left to your local professional plumber? Keep reading to find out, along with some instructions to fix your broken shower.

1. Clogging and Inefficient Draining

White tub water drain flow
Photo: Antibydni / Adobe Stock

There’s nothing worse than standing in a foot of dirty water every time you take a shower. Clogged drains are ubiquitous, impacting showers since the dawn of running water. 

Hair, soap scum, and other shower-related detritus cause most drain clogs, but hard water buildup is another known culprit. 

How to Handle It

  • In the vast majority of cases, you can resolve clogs on your own. Start with a drain-clearing product. 

  • Remove visible blockages with your gloved hand and pour the solution down the drain.

  • Wait seven minutes and then test the drain. 

  • If unclogged, clean the tub before your next shower to prevent slippage. 

  • Try baking soda, vinegar, and hot water for an at-home solution. 

  • Pour it down the drain and wait seven minutes. 

  • If hard water buildup consistently speeds up the clogging process, contact a local water softening company for a consultation. 

2. Low Water Pressure

Low-pressure showers are sad and deflated when compared to their high-pressure cousins. Low water pressure has multiple causes, including leaks, but you’ll typically source the problem to a dirty or clogged showerhead. Limestone buildups are notorious for impacting a shower’s water pressure. Luckily, a DIY-friendly solution is within grasp. 

How to Handle It 

  • Remove the showerhead carefully and according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

  • Submerge it in a bowl of distilled vinegar for 30 minutes or longer. 

  • After that, scrub it vigorously with an old toothbrush. 

  • Reattach the head and try the pressure. 

  • If low water pressure impacts all of your taps, and now just your shower, it indicates a leak somewhere in the system. Contact a pro for a maintenance visit. 

3. Leaky Showerhead or Faucet

Hand faucet tub water flow
Photo: Bonninstudio / Stocksy / Adobe Stock

The annoyingly consistent drip of a leaky showerhead or faucet causes many sleepless nights, but they pose dangers beyond forced insomnia. A leaky spigot encourages water waste, causes a buildup of bacteria and mold, and leads to eventual rust and rot. 

Most of the time, these leaks derive from worn-down inner seals related to the faucet, including gaskets, O-rings, and more. These connection points wear down over time, creating a leak in the process. 

How to Handle It 

Fixing a leaky shower requires new parts to replace the old and worn-out parts. 

  • First, find out which shower valve you have. 

  • Look behind the shower handle at the center of the trim plate for a manufacturer’s symbol or brand logo. 

  • Perform some web research to suss out which valve from said manufacturer operates in your bathroom. 

  • Only purchase replacement parts for that particular shower valve. 

  • The replacement process depends on the type of showerhead or faucet you are repairing, the shower valve used, and the various worn-out gaskets and parts. 

  • Work slowly and carefully, following manufacturer instructions to a tee.  

  • This is a time-consuming project for amateurs, so consider contacting a pro. 

  • Fixing a bathroom leak costs between $150 to $350. 

4. Consistently Bad Smell

Showers and baths should be luxurious and time-consuming experiences. However, a funky-smelling bathroom is not exactly inviting. Mold, fungi, and even grout all contribute to nasty odors in and around the shower. 

Mold thrives anywhere there is moisture, even behind the walls, so you may not even have access to the infected areas. However, there are some things you should do before contacting a local mold removal expert.

How to Handle It

  • Clean the shower and the rest of the bathroom thoroughly, paying attention to any grout buildups and any obvious signs of mold. 

  • For this mold, use a dedicated mold-removal spray and wear safety goggles and gloves. 

  • Once cleaned, keep the bathroom and shower ventilated by installing fans, dehumidifiers, or simply cracking open some windows. 

  • If the smell remains, mold may exist behind the walls. Contact a pro for some advice. 

5. Noisy Shower and Rattling Pipes

It’s tough to relax (not to mention sing) when your shower is making more noise than the London Philharmonic. Shower noises come from various broken parts of your system, from rattling pipes to worn-down shower cartridges. 

Before you do anything about the root cause of your excessive shower noise, try to diagnose the issue of vibrating pipes. If you are having trouble locating the source of the racket, here are some simple troubleshooting steps to consider before calling in a pro. 

How to Handle It:

  • Most shower noises come from loose pipes or related pieces of hardware. 

  • Take a close look at your shower, especially the pipes running from it. 

  • See anything loose? Tighten these areas with a screwdriver or wrench or purchase and install a new set of tightening brackets. 

  • High water pressure often contributes to an increase in noise. Add a water pressure regulation valve to address the issue. 

  • Air bubbles stuck in your pipes even cause shower noise. 

  • Turn off your main water supply and drain all water from the pipes. 

  • Open your faucets, beginning at the farthest point from the water main. 

  • Leave them running until they fully drain and then close them up in reverse order. 

  • Finally, engage the water main and test the loudness level of your shower.

Now that you know how to fix your broken shower, determine if it’s something you can DIY or if you’ll need to hire a pro. 

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