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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'm negotiating a contract for a home purchase. This is a three-floor townhouse with a basement. During the inspection, every fixture--3.5 BA and kitchen--showed great pressure and volume, with the exception of the master shower. (The master bath tub and sinks, which are adjacent to the shower, worked great, and running multiple simultaneous fixtures on multiple floors and flushing toilets made no impact on their strong performance.)

As for the master shower, it's hard to see in this picture, but it performed very poorly during the inspection, with water just barely trickling out.

05iz2iuszgk41.jpg

We raised this issue with the sellers. In response, they are claiming that the shower works just fine, and submitted a video as proof.

In response, they are claiming that the shower works just fine, and submitted this video as proof (I've removed the audio for their privacy).

https://www.kapwing.com/videos/5e5e6fa48c2bc700166135f2

As you can see, they replaced the rain-style head with a cheap model. It works well, as do the sprayers. My theory is that the previous showerhead had hardened mineral deposits in it, so the sellers addressed it by replacing it with the cheapest head they could find (although I can't explain why the sprayers work well now). They also qualify that there's insufficient pressure/volume for the sprayers and head to work simultaneously. I'm fine with that. My concern is that this demonstration doesn't put to rest any concerns about pressure or volume, and that if we tried to replace this cheap head with a rain-style head, the performance would be poor. Is this a valid concern? Does anyone on this forum suspect that something even more troubling is going on, and that a repair could be costly?

An additional wrinkle: Not shown in the video are an ADDITIONAL rain-style showerhead, body sprayers, and handheld head on the other side. These fixtures also performed poorly during the inspection:

7qnyirl04hk41.jpg

To top it off, the two rain-style showerheads function on the same valve: you can't turn on one without turning on the other. Frankly, my wife and I think all of these water sources are a bunch of nonsense (and very wasteful). We just want a single well-functioning luxurious showerhead. Is there a device I can put on the arm of the second head that will close the valve, and as a result, improve the pressure and volume delivered to the primary head?

Thank you, everyone.

UPDATE: I'm getting an on-site demo of this to see it for myself on Sunday.
 

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probably has a water saver washer installed to reduce the pressure and save water. Remove that or buy just a generic one with no water saver or one that can be removed.

Additionally, if you do like the rain head you can remove it and try using a 1/2 inch female threaded cap and cap it off. available at any big box store. That is weird they plumbed it like that so everything comes on at once with no option of turning it off. Probably did it that way to save money.
 

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The prewar building we live in has water pressure issues as well. But they can be acceptable with a proper design.

In NYC many buildings have water tanks on the roof. The first 6 or so floors of our 12 story building get NYC water pressure (from ground level). The rest get water pumped to water tower on roof. The drop from the tank height gives the pressure. When we had our bathroom redone (upper floor), no one advised us but we were lucky and stuck with the rain style shower head and the gentle amount of water we get 'seems' plentiful. We get decent showers. We now know that if the water tower was raised up more, on a higher platform, the pressure would improve. But no one likes an assessment.

The tub in the same room takes forever to fill. Maybe 15 to 20 minutes. So we are 'shower people'.

Your sellers probably went overboard from a photo or video they saw about state of the art in a perfect setting. They over did it.

You say each fixture other than the shower 'showed great pressure and volume' but unless tested by a pressure meter, it may look good to the eye but not be so great in volume. The small rubber nubbies in the shower head are what may clog but clear by running your finger along each row. If junk like old pipe residue got caught in the head, removing it and letting water run could clear it. Lastly, the main valve cartridge may have failed, usually after a period of time. But this complicated monster may have many places to create a problem.

If the water from the main head alone appears ok, you may have to live with it and use it in simplest setting, ask for consideration (price reduction off price) to repair or move on to another property.

You can cap the second shower head, even above the shower ceiling, if you can consider a small mod and have some extra matching tile.
 

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If you can locate the supply lines for this, I believe you will find it to be possibly only a 1/2" in size. It would take at least a 3/4" supply line, or even a 1" with a booster to obtain enough volume to run all those heads at once. Pressure is pressure. You are lacking in volume big time and the piping, IMO, is not large enough to handle it. This was an artsy fartsy install. Someone had more money than brains and thought it would be cute to have it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks, everyone. We're completely sold on just operating a single head and nothing else. I just want to find the simplest way to make that happen for now until we have the energy and time to open the walls and work on the pipes. It sounds like a female-threaded cap on the other large head is the first step. It also sounds like, notwithstanding the wonky setup in this shower, a larger system-wide issue (blockage, insufficient pressure from the main, etc) is probably not the cause of my problems here.
 

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Even on the video, it does not look like there is a heck of a lot of water flowing out. Most likely plumbed with half inch pipe, but if you have good flow everywhere else in the house, I would have expected a (maybe not great but at least) reasonable flow even through the rain head.

I realize you are not in a position to do a lot of testing, but I would next remove the shower head and see how much water is actually coming through the pipe. Could be some water saver as mentioned previously.

Off the water meter, you should be seeing 3/4" pipe, not 1/2". Otherwise, I would agree that it is just a problem at that shower-head. If worst comes to worst, do you have access to the other side of that wall ?

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Off the water meter, you should be seeing 3/4" pipe, not 1/2". Otherwise, I would agree that it is just a problem at that shower-head. If worst comes to worst, do you have access to the other side of that wall ?
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The main itself is 1", but I'm not sure about the pipe coming off the meter.

If worst comes to worst, do you have access to the other side of that wall ?
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Yes. The other side of the main head is tile from floor to ~5ft, followed by drywall. The other side of the second head is drywall.
 

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My bad - did not notice you have two shower heads. And both off of one valve ? - yeah half inch pipe could be a problem.
 

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During your inspection as part of the purchase and sale agreement, take off the existing shower head and try out a brand new head you brought with you. This might tell you whether the pipe is clogged or whether it is just the shower head that is clogged.

(You are free to also bring some helpers possibly an electrician and a plumber in for your inspection.)

Many upscale showers have small spray heads at different heights, and there are various permutations of how many faucets and which faucets control what.
 
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