If you rarely or never encounter difficulties with your shower, you may not recognize the underlying problems that many classic trouble signs can indicate. Here is a quick troubleshooting guide to help you understand what kinds of plumbing issues produce specific shower malfunctions.
Your Shower Water Won’t Get (or Stay) Hot
Receiving ice-cold water instead of the relaxing stream of hot water that you expected can provide quite a shock. Fortunately, it can also point you toward one obvious source of trouble: your water heater. Some element of this component has almost certainly failed, handily narrowing your search for solutions.
If your shower water starts cold and stays cold, check your water heater to see whether you have an old-style design that uses a dip tube, which directs cold water to the heater for warming. If so, this dip tube may have developed a problem that causes it to send that cold water directly to the showerhead.
If you have a water heater that warms water with an electric heating element, suspect a failure in this component. Without a properly working heating element, either you’ll get no hot water at all, or the hot water you get will last for only a moment.
Keep in mind that you can only expect to get as much hot water as your water heater can provide at one time. If you have a large number of houseguests who share the same water heater, sooner or later the tank’s heated content will run out. If this problem keeps recurring, you may need a larger-capacity hot water tank.
Your Shower Water Has Insufficient Pressure
A small trickle of shower water indicates a water pressure problem. Low water pressure may afflict your entire household plumbing system, or it may only display itself in your shower water supply. Inadequate whole-house water pressure may stem from a pressure regulator valve set to an abnormally low level.
Some showers fail to produce adequate pressure despite normal whole-house pressure. If you have this problem, check to see whether the home’s previous owner installed a low-flow showerhead. You might even find that the showerhead can produce more pressure after a simple adjustment to the nozzle settings.
Hard water deposits can also affect your shower water pressure. This kind of mineral accumulation can clog your shower nozzle, which prevents more than a small volume of water from escaping at a time. Clean any such deposits out of the nozzle, or replace the nozzle altogether.
Your Shower Water Looks Discolored
Any discoloration in your shower water may cause understandable alarm. The color of the water can help you determine what kind of material has found its way into your water, and why. Brown water, for instance, often indicates the presence of dissolved iron, which means that you have a rust problem.
Blue-tinted shower water often signifies that copper has entered your water, possibly due to a high pH level. Excessively alkaline water will leach copper from pipes into your water supply. You may need to install a reverse-osmosis or other water treatment device to normalize your shower water pH.
Your Shower Smells Terrible
Sometimes your nose can alert you to certain shower problems. Your shower drain may have collected a thick biofilm, a natural feeding ground for odor-emitting bacteria. Bacteria can also collect under the water heater, resulting in foul smells when you activate the water after a period of disuse.
If the problem remains after you clean, look for malfunctions in your shower system plumbing. The most serious issue involves the presence of hydrogen sulfide, a toxic gas, which has migrated from the sewer line to your water pipes. You may have a leak in the tub’s P-trap, which normally keeps this gas out.
It always makes sense to consult the professionals about any suspicious, frustrating shower symptoms or other plumbing problems. Contact Two Men and a Snake today for an inspection.