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Why Does a Shower Head Whistle? Plus How to Fix it!

why shower head whistles

You have decided to make your bathroom classy by installing a shower or shower panel.

Then you get into the shower one day, only for you to turn on the water and get a frightening whistle that can almost make you run out of the bathroom.

Believe me, this annoying sound can make you jump out of your shower if you were not prepared.

Hence, what is supposed to be a relaxed refreshing moment turns out to be a moment of worries because of the high-pitched sound from your shower head.

Well shower heads do not just whistle, something must be the cause and there are quite a number of reasons why your shower head whistles.

The whistling sound coming from a shower head happens as a result of too much pressure or restriction somewhere within the mechanism or plumbing system. There may be a number of causes such as a clogged shower head pipe or cartridge, damaged shower valve, malfunctioning diverter valve, worn out washer, etc.

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Let’s take a look at some of these reasons.

Clogged shower head pipe

Before your shower head was installed, a lot of piping took place.

I mean quite a number of pipes were connected and soldered together to have your shower supplying water.

Some of these pipes are visible while some are not as they were run behind your shower wall.

It is possible that the pipe that comes out of your shower wall and has the shower head screwed to it, is clogged or might be the shower head itself.

When this happens, the running water has a very small space to move through and in the course of trying to pass through this small hole space, it is accompanied by a whistling sound.

You might be wondering how the shower head and its pipe gets clogged when only clean water passes through it.

Well, hard water might be the cause. Hard water is water that has high mineral contents like salt of calcium, bicarbonates, chloride, etc.

When this hard water builds up in the pipe, it gets clogged.

In this case, what do you do? Disconnect the shower head and soak in a white vinegar solution.

White vinegar would help to remove the deposits.

Also, clean out the shower head pipe.

This is actually something you can do yourself without the service of a plumber.

Old shower head.

old shower head whistle broken

If you have been using your shower head for quite sometime now, the whistling sound might be a sign that it is due for replacement.

An old shower head might have broken or clogged nozzles which contribute to the whistling; in this situation, it is best to replace it.

Just a little diversion: you can consider getting  low-cost shower heads so that you can always change them as they age.

Damaged Shower valve

Now this is a little tough one because the shower valve is an unseen part of your shower.

So, concluding that the shower valve is faulty must be after you have carefully checked your shower head and its pipe to be sure there are no deposits.

The shower valve does the work of regulations. It regulates water temperature and pressure by ensuring that the ratio of cold water to hot water is balanced and constant and also that the water flow is restricted.

If this shower valve becomes damaged, whether from constant usage, time or other causes, it could lead to whistling when water passes through it.

This is not a DIY thing though, you would need the service of a professional plumber to fix or replace it.

Clogged Shower cartridge

A shower cartridge is one of the four types of valve in a faucet (don’t get lost with the technical term and all;  a faucet is just a water flow regulator).

A cartridge also does the work of regulations with its holes. Your shower cartridge might be clogged as a result of rocks or other hardwares that got into it.

It might also be as a result of mineral buildup of which a single-handle shower cartridge faucet is vulnerable to.

When all these interfere with your shower cartridge, it produces a whistling sound and you will have to replace it by employing the service of a professional plumber.

Malfunctioning diverter valve

If your shower is a combination of a shower head and a tub spout (you know that other tap-like nozzle used for washing feet or filling bucket, situated right below your main shower head?

Yeah, that is a tub spout), a diverted valve is involved because it is needed to divert water between the tub spout and the shower head.

If the diverter valve is faulty or something is interfering with it, it could lead to whistling sound.

You can try to detect this by gently moving the diverter valve.

If you notice a change in the noise while doing this, it means the problem lies with the diverter valve. To fix this, you need the service of a professional plumber.

High water flow

High water flow might also be the cause.

If the water flow in your house is quite high, as the large volume of water runs through the bends in your pipes, it might gives a whistling sound.

Here, there is no damage to any of the shower accessories nor is there any clogging.

What you might need to do to fix this is getting a low-flow shower head or faucet. This will not only solve the problem, it will also reduce water usage.

Worn-out washer

A washer is a flat or domed rubber, situated at the base of a shower cartridge or on a shower valve, which seals the shower cartridge completely and helps to prevent leaks.

As water flows out, the washer is being crushed and this can lead to wearing. A worn-out washer will vibrate as water flows through it.

The vibration then creates a whistling sound.

To fix this, get a professional plumber to disassemble the faucet and replace the worn washers.


A whistling sound from your shower head could be a minor issue.

First, try to clean out shower head pipe and wash your shower head with white vinegar before you start getting bothered about a major problem.

As said earlier, it could also be that your shower head needs a new replacement.