When the well begins to send up hollow echoes instead of a
steady stream of water — and weather forecasters
start intoning warnings about below-average levels of
precipitation — you know it's time to pay attention
to your family's water-consumption habits. And whether you
live in a drought-prone area where cutbacks have already
been mandated, or ever-increasing water bills are simply
forcing your household to economize, it's a good
idea to do your part to help conserve this rapidly
dwindling limited resource.
You'll be happy to know, then, that you can significantly
affect household water use by simply regulating the amount
of the precious liquid that runs down the drain when you
shower. If you live in a house that was built in recent
years, your bathroom is more than likely already equipped
with a water-saving shower head. However, for those who
reside in somewhat older homes, there are reasonably priced
brass washers that can be slipped inside a shower
attachment to constrict the flow. Or — if you'd like
an even lower-cost option — you can modify
your shower head, causing it to use about 75% less water,
by making my 2¢ shower flow restrictor.
To put together this almost no-cost adapter, you'll first
have to remove the existing shower head (a crescent wrench
is probably the best tool for the job). With that done,
rummage through your workshop odds and ends (or pay a visit
to the local hardware store or a plumbing supply house) to
find a rubber washer, without a hole in the
middle, of about the same diameter as the inside of the
pipe that connects with the nozzle. Such washers are
usually priced five for a dime or about 2¢
The next step is as tough as this project is going to get.
Using a pair of snips, cut a number of little wedges
— all the way around the rubber disc — from the
outside of the circle and not quite to its center.
Now, insert the saw-edged washer into the shower head as
far as it will go, and refasten the whole affair to the
connecting waterline. Finally, try out your modification:
If the flow is too constricted, you'll need to
disassemble the fitting and cut deeper notches in the
washer. If the flow has not been reduced enough, however,
you should start anew with another washer (even though
doing so will inflate the project's cost to a full 4¢)
and remove smaller slices this time.
Since I retrofitted my shower head, I've found that the
water flow is about 25% of what it was before ... however, the
spray has the same force regardless of how far I turn the
faucet handles. All in all, this is one project that I
think has really given me my 2¢ worth!