Shower heads come in a range of different flow rates – such as low flow and high flow, as well as many different spray configurations.
Shower heads are universal, and one shower head can be swapped out for another very easily. But here’s how often you should change your shower head.
As a general rule, if drought conditions have caused a law change that requires a shower head with a lower flow rate, when you want to change the design of your shower head, or if it’s broken.
Shower heads often get a build-up of hard water deposits that cause weak and uneven flow. But, these can easily be removed from a shower head. Below, I will explain how to know you need a new shower head, how long a shower head lasts, and what happens if you don’t change your shower head.
How To Know When You Need a New Shower Head
Shower heads are a very simple fixture in a bathroom, and they are hollow on the inside, allowing water to build up and flow out the holes. Shower heads last a very long time but can experience issues, so this is how to know if you need a new shower head.
In general, if your shower head has a crack and is leaking or drought has changed the building codes for what flow rate a shower head needs to be. But, in general, shower heads rarely need to be changed. However, they can need to be cleaned to remove sediment or hard water deposits.
Many showerhead manufacturers offer a lifetime warranty on their shower heads. This shows that shower heads typically last a very long time. Shower heads are made of stainless steel. And the water flowing through them is not enough to wear them out in any way.
Plastic shower heads are made of Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS). This type of plastic will last 50 to 80 years (source).
Therefore, a shower head will last for around 75 years or more. The main reasons you would want to replace your shower head are:
- You want a different shower head design
- You need or want a shower head with a different flow rate
- The shower head somehow got damaged (very rare)
There are many different types of shower heads. For example, there are waterfall shower heads where the shower head is vertical, and water flows straight down. Whereas others shoot water at an angle. Others are very wide and provide good water covers. On the other hand, some shower heads are narrow.
You may prefer a particular type of showerhead, but a new home you bought already had shower heads. Shower heads have different flow rates, which is how much water they spray.
Some regions are prone to drought, such as California. For this reason, many jurisdictions limit the type of showerhead that can be used to conserve water. For example, building codes will state that you can only use a shower head with a flow rate of 2 gallons per minute (GPM).
These laws change from time to time, and therefore because of new climate conditions, you may need to swap out your shower head for one with a lower flow rate.
Currently, here’s a table that shows the maximum GPM a shower head can have for a few different counties and States in the USA, so you can get an idea:
- Nevada – 2.0 gpm
- Oregon – 1.8 gpm
- California – 1.8 gpm
- West Hollywood, California – 1.5 gpm
- Miami-Dade County, Florida – 1.5 gpm
Lastly, your shower head may have gotten damaged somehow. It’s generally very rare for this to happen. Shower heads often have small rubber or plastic rings that sit inside the holes in the metal.
Replacing a showerhead is reasonably easy. Here’s a video from Home Depot where they show the ins and out of replacing a shower head:
How Long Does a Shower Head Last
Shower heads are made of a range of different materials. The most common are stainless steel, brass, and porcelain (source). Here’s how long a shower head lasts.
On average, a shower head will last 50 years or more. Many showerhead manufacturers offer a lifetime warranty on their showerheads. Stainless steel shower heads have a life expectancy of 50 years or more. The same is true of plastic showerheads.
If you bought a showerhead brand new, chances are you will never have to swap it out for a new one. However, if you purchased an existing home, the shower head may fail and can need replacing.
If your shower head is not spraying properly, then the first thing to do is to clean it. Shower heads are easy to clean because you can remove the whole shower head easily by unscrewing it from the stem. Some regions have hard water, which causes hard water deposits to form.
When these form in a shower head, they can block the holes either completely or partially. Removing hard water deposits from a shower head is very easy. I explain in detail how to do it in this article about how to clean and descale a shower head.
What Happens if You Don’t Change Your Shower Head
A shower head is used very often and typically a minimum of once a day. There are a few symptoms that your shower head needs to be cleaned or changed. Here’s what happens if you don’t change your shower head for a long time.
As a general rule, nothing happens if you don’t change your shower head. Shower heads have a life expectancy of 50 years or more. After this time, some degradation of the holes can occur, which can cause spraying issues. Shower heads often need to be cleaned to remove sediment or hard water deposits.
The main drawback is that taking a shower won’t be as nice. This is because issues with the holes will cause the water to spray in random directions.
Or, it can cause the water to dribble out and create one big stream of water rather than an even spray. As a result, it’s more difficult to wet and rinse your body.
Amos Christen graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design from Drexel University — Philadelphia, PA. Since 2003, Amos has worked with top interior design professionals in this area, including architects and interior/graphic/lighting designers. As a skilled interior designer, Amos Christen is highly versed in fine arts and crafts and uses that to supplement his main area of expertise. He often publishes articles related to home décor on several websites, including Sprucetoilets.com, Sprucebathroom.com, and Mybesuitedhome.com. He also contributes to leading interior design magazines.