Showerheads used to be easy to hack. And never doubt the need to do so. What do we want out of a shower? We want fantastic amounts of water pouring down on our heads, ideally like the waterfall we see in movies and art. At very least, this requires pulling out the government-mandated flow stopper after the purchase and before the installation.

In recent years, these stoppers have become more difficult to remove. Some are downright impossible. A few years ago, I bought an expensive showerhead and spent Saturday afternoon with hammers, ice picks, drills, and the experience ended in total frustration.

freegr / Pixabay

So yesterday, I decided the settle the issue once and for all. I sprung for 5 different showerheads – purchased based on what I perceived to be their hackability – and tried it out on each one. I’m astounded and thrilled at the results. It turns out to be ridiculously easy and cheap to bypass the bureaucrats and enjoy a decent shower.

The Background

Bad showers by government mandate are one symptom of a larger problem. Beginning in the 1970s, and in the most stealthy way, government at all levels began to unravel the gains civilization had made over the century in household management. Through regulations, bans, restrictions, and controls, essential domestic functions have been seriously compromised.

Showers in the old days were fantastic.

Think of all the great advances: indoor plumbing, showers and baths, washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators, and flush toilets. What would life be like without them? None of us can even imagine. But the government apparently can imagine it because its regulatory apparatus is gradually taking them all away.

To be sure, government once pretended to do good things for us like build parks, boost income, bring electricity to rural areas, and the like. Today, it is the opposite. It sees its role as restricting and tearing down what the private sector creates — for our own good. This is why it is constantly telling us that it must curb our lifestyles. The regulators restrict what we consume, control what we do, crack down on our ability to live a good life.

If some activity is going well, some new item is making life better, some food or gadget is newly popular, you can be sure that some bureaucrat is plotting to restrict its use or ban it. Politicians on both the left and the right imagine that their main role is thinking of ways to control how we live, direct how we spend what money we make, and take away freedoms and rights once taken for granted.

A glorious morning shower is one casualty of this regulatory invasion.

The Showerhead

If you head to the Delta Faucet site, you will see a notice about flow restrictors in their showerheads. “While it is possible to remove flow restrictors from showerheads, we strongly advise against it for several reasons. Flow restrictors for faucets are an integral part of most aerators and it is generally not possible or desirable to remove them.”

Is that so? Of course it is not so. Showers in the old days were fantastic. They covered us with water — hot water — and kept us clean. Then government got involved to regulate how much water the bureaucrats think we should be using. The result was the mandate that every showerhead had to be deliberately degraded. The words on the Delta website reflect fear of government and have nothing to do with reality.

Today smaller manufacturers have found profits in advertising showerheads with “removable” flow restrictors. These are best but you can also remove them from the parts you get at the big-box hardware stores. Once I had to actually take a drill to the thing to make it happen but it can be done. And it must be done or else you find yourself running around in the shower trying to get yourself covered with the pathetic trickle that the government has mandated for us.

Go to Brazil and take a shower and you will never readapt to the terrible American ones.

You might have some vague memory from childhood, and perhaps it returns when visiting someone who lives in an old home. You turn on the shower and the water washes over your whole self as if you are standing under a warm-spring waterfall. It is generous and therapeutic. The spray is heavy and hard, enough even to work muscle cramps out of your back, enough to wash the conditioner out of your hair, enough to leave you feeling wholly renewed — enough to get you completely clean.

I was just in Brazil, a socialist country. Many terrible things are happening in this country but one great thing never changes. The showers are amazing. Amazing, I tell you! Go to Brazil and take a shower and you will never readapt to the terrible American ones.

Somehow, these days, it seems nearly impossible to recreate this in your new home. You go to the hardware store to find dozens and dozens of choices of shower heads. They have 3, 5, 7, even 9 settings from spray to massage to rainfall. Some have long necks. They glisten and look amazing. Masterful design!

Some you can hold in your hand. Some are huge like the lid to a pot and promise buckets of rainfall. The options seem endless. But you buy and buy, and in the end, they disappoint. It’s just water, and it never seems like enough.

Why do we believe that a showerhead can magically cause us to have better showers? The head part is only as good as the flow, and the flow needs to be as unimpeded as possible. It’s pretty simple if you think about it. All the rest is just marketing.

Regulatory Bite

Here is one example of why your showerhead cannot be good, from the Santa Cruz City Water Conservation Office: “If you purchased and installed a new showerhead in the last ten years, it will be a 2.5 gpm [gallons-per-minute] model, since all showerheads sold in California were low consumption models beginning in 1992.”

This is not a modern shower. This is medieval peasantry. Poverty. Pathetic, state-of-nature stuff.

And it is not just crazy California. The Federal Energy Policy Act of 1992 mandates that “all faucet fixtures manufactured in the United States restrict maximum water flow at or below 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) at 80 pounds per square inch (psi) of water pressure or 2.2 gpm at 60 psi.”

Or as the Department of Energy itself declares to all consumers and manufacturers: “Federal regulations mandate that new showerhead flow rates can’t exceed more than 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) at a water pressure of 80 pounds per square inch (psi).”

As with all regulations, the restriction on how much water can pour over you at once while standing in a shower is ultimately enforced at the point of a gun. Manufacturers must adhere to these regulations under penalty of law, and to be on the safe side and adjust for high-water pressure systems, they typically undershoot. If you try your showers right now, you will probably find that they dispense water at 2 gallons per minute or even less.


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