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How Does a Showerhead Work?

Billy Kirk

A shower head operates in a fairly straightforward manner. Used to provide a spray or mist of water to he or she taking a shower, the shower head facilitates this bathing by reconfiguring the stream of water that comes out of the faucet.

Water Pressure and Diffusion

Instead of a hard jet of water or a messy, undisciplined stream, the shower head diffuses the jet of water, in so doing providing a much more comfortable and beneficiary water stream that is spread over a greater surface area, and can be further adjusted for added comfort depending upon the prerogative of the bather. A larger amount of water pressure is also achievable thanks to shower heads, and as a result a level of water conservation is possible.

Valves and Shower Head Variations

The shower valve is what governs the flow of water and determines the speed and thus the strength of the stream. While many simply believe a bigger shower head is better, this is a misconception and is not necessarily the case. A large shower head may have a less powerful valve, however, it may also diffuse the water better and more comfortably. Thus, the head and valve work together to determine the characteristics of the shower head, and the combination that works best is subjective rather than objective. Low flow shower heads provide greater water pressure with minimal quantities of water thanks to its aerating abilities. Some shower heads provide only one kind of stream of water, while others can be adjusted for various streams on the fly, to suit the bather's taste. The most common kind of shower head is the fixed shower head, which cannot change its position, except to change the angle of water by repositioning the angle of the shower head. Some fixed shower heads are recessed, while other shower heads are different altogether and act as hoses/shower handsets that can be taken out of a fixed position and stretched to a completely different one. Further, some showers feature fixed body jets, which are smaller jets of water that can come from different, fixed positions and act to further alter the climate of the shower.


Shower heads often require some level of maintenance. For instance, rubber shower heads may be subjected to hard water which contains a number of minerals that can decrease and affect the flow of the shower water. Lime scale can build up in and around the shower head and cause a number of problems. This lime scale can be fixed and cleaned by being soaked in liquids such as magnesium, while some nozzles with only a minimum amount of rubber can be cleaned without the use of such soaking liquids.