4 Possible Reasons Your Shower Is Whistling (And How to Fix Them)

Rochel Maday
Written by Rochel Maday
Updated September 23, 2021
Woman tests shower temperature
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If your shower whistles along while you sing and scrub, learn why and whether you can tackle the repair yourself or if you should hire a professional plumber for the job

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Forced water through a constricted opening causes a squealing or whistling noise. If the noise is in your shower, this could be an issue within the showerhead or a supply pipe. Either way, restriction or pressure causes whistling showers. Finding out which one is the first step to enjoying a quiet shower again. 

Explore the following potential scenarios behind your noisy shower and decide if you’re prepared to tackle the issue or if it’s time to call in a local professional.

Why Does My Shower Squeal? 4 Potential Possibilities

1. Clogged Showerhead

Start your search for a diagnosis by examining your showerhead. Take a close look at the nozzles or holes where the water comes out. Over time, mineral deposits like limescale can build up in these tiny holes and make it harder for water to pass through. If they are visibly clogged, you may have already found the cause of your noisy shower. 

If you’re not sure if you have a clogged showerhead, there’s a simple way to check. Simply disconnect your showerhead from the showerhead pipe and turn on the water. If you no longer hear a whistling sound, you know the showerhead is the source of your squealing.

You can either replace the showerhead entirely or remove the buildup with a simple DIY showerhead cleaning method.

But if you still hear the sound after removing the showerhead, it’s time to move down the line of potential culprits.

2. Clogged Showerhead Pipe

Just like water forcing its way through clogged nozzles on your showerhead creates a whistling sound, so does water rushing through a clogged showerhead pipe. This is the visible piece of pipe that’s directly attached to your showerhead.

To inspect and clean it, remove your showerhead. Visually inspect the pipe for buildup. Turn the arm up (carefully) and pour in a bit of diluted white distilled vinegar. Allow the solution to sit for at least an hour before turning the arm back to its original position and allowing the solution to pour out. Turn the water back on to rinse the pipe and to check for any whistling.

3. High Water Pressure

Rain shower head in small bathroom
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Restricted water flow isn’t the only cause of a squealing shower. When there’s adequate space for water to flow but it’s being pushed through too quickly, a squealing noise can occur. 

If the water flow is suddenly painful during your shower or you’re going through your hot water supply within a few minutes, high water pressure could be to blame. 

If it seems like the pressure throughout your entire home has increased, you may need to install or replace a water pressure regulator near the water meter entrance. This is a project often best left to professionals.

But if only the showerhead seems to have high water pressure, you can try removing the back of your showerhead and inspecting it for any slipped or worn-out parts.

4. Worn-Out Valves

Removing buildup in your showerhead is a quick DIY project that most homeowners feel comfortable handling. But the next set of potential causes of squealing showers is best left to the professionals.

These three types of valves are all located behind the shower wall. Mistakes made during an attempted repair can be dangerous and costly. Consider hiring a trusted plumber if you suspect any of these valves are causing your whistling shower.

Handle Valves

The handles you adjust when starting your shower are each connected to a valve that controls how much hot or cold water reaches the showerhead. Over time, these valves can wear out. Replacing them is best left to the professionals though.

Shower Cartridge

Shower cartridges are used in showers with one handle to control the water temperature. Just like handle valves, a shower cartridge can wear out over time and require replacement. Because of their tricky location, hire a plumber to replace a shower cartridge.

Diverter Valve

If your shower is also a bathtub, you have a diverter valve. This is the pull handle you lift when you want the water to flow from the showerhead rather than pour from the faucet. If the whistling noise changes at all when either pulling up or pushing down the diverter valve, you can bet a failing washer in the valve is the culprit. 

Get Professional Assistance

Soap? Check. Towel? Check. Ear plugs? Not so fast. A squealing shower is more than just annoying. Left untreated, the cause of a squealing shower can lead to more serious plumbing issues down the road. 

You can sometimes stop these unwanted symphonies with a few simple tools and a minimal DIY approach. But if you think a repair goes past your comfort zone or expertise level, it’s always recommended to reach out to a professional. 

Remember: there are several reasons why your shower squeals. But the good news is that repairs are typically quick and effective.

Find a shower repair expert near you to get the repair process started.

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