Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Shower Head Blues

You know the shower head performance is bad when your wife CHOOSES to go to the bath house for a shower when it is cold outside.  As a guy, I did not think the shower head was so bad.  Yes, there was not a great spray pattern but I got wet and the soap rinsed off.  Then I got an education...you don't have long hair.  The sales lady at the RV store told me the same thing.  Apparently, the spray pattern has to have sufficient force to deal with the needs of long hair.  There are a number of folks online that recommend the Oxygenics brand shower head.  No local store had one and mail order seemed necessary.  But I was at the RV store for other items and decided to try a different shower head they had in stock.  The parts lady even gave it a personal recommendation...again, it was the hair thing.  Amazingly, this $12 part did the trick. 
Original on the right, water flow cut off on the back.  You can see the new product on the left, water flow cut off below the head.  It is pretty clear that the holes of the two shower heads are pretty dramatically different.  It boils down to hydraulics.  Limited water pressure producing an ineffective spray pattern out of the one on the right, but spraying nicely out of the one on the left.  I really wondered if such small openings would produce an adequate spray pattern.  It does. 

One caution.  The cutoff shuts the flow off completely and tends to dispense hot water only on reopening.  Leave it trickling if needed.  I have not run out of hot water when leaving either of them on during the shower.

So, if you need a better shower experience, check out  the local RV store or shop online for a very simple way to address low shower head pressure and performance. 


  1. We had the oxyegenator one in our trailer and it was much better than the orignial..good luck with the new one you purchased..and if it is cheaper and works?..and keeps your wife in the trailer on a cold morning,that is a good thing!

  2. There's an easy solution to the problem of that initial burst of scalding water when turning the showerhead back on: bring the water heater to exactly the right temperature for showering and shut it off. Then you can just turn on the hot water faucet in the shower, and never need to mix with cold water. Presto--no more scalding bursts.

    There are several ways to accomplish this. You can install an adjustable thermostat in your water heater, replacing the fixed one:


    This $35 item lets you reduce the temperature setpoint... but in my case I found it was still too hot for comfort.

    The second approach is free: simply use a kitchen timer to time your water heater. I used to turn mine on in the morning, set the timer for 15 minutes, and then shut it off when the timer beeped. That gave me the right temperature for showering, and I didn't need to turn on the heater for the rest of the day--the water stayed warm for washing dishes and so on. You don't use much propane in fifteen minutes a day! Of course you have to tweak your timing a little depending on the season--in summer, ten minutes is better, while in winter it may take twenty.

    The method I use now is more precise. I bought a $14 aquarium thermometer with a remote temperature probe:


    I slipped the probe inside the water heater's insulating jacket so that it was in contact with the tank, and mounted the readout on a wall near the bathroom. The thermometer has a settable alarm, so now all I have to do is turn on the water heater, and then turn it off when the alarm tells me the perfect temperature has been reached.

    The key here is to get the water heated to just the right temperature--no hotter--in order to avoid mixing with cold water. You'll save both water and propane this way, and you'll never be scalded by a burst of super-hot water when you turn the showerhead back on after lathering up.