What is a Flow Restrictor?

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  • Written By: Charity Delich
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2019
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A flow restrictor is a gadget designed to limit the amount of liquid or gas, such as water or air, that comes out of a tap or other dispenser. These devices are often environmentally friendly, and can be helpful in lowering water bills. For example, flow restrictors can allow users to reduce the amount of water needed when washing dishes or showering.

Water pressure and the valve size of a tap typically determine how much water is emitted from a tap. Taps with high pressure tend to deliver large amounts of water, often more than is necessary for performing tasks like washing hands or bathing. As the name implies, a water flow restrictor limits the amount of water that is let out of a tap. It is often used in plumbing for the purpose of controlling water flow in showers or faucets.

Flow restrictors that are installed in faucets are typically either screwed onto the tap or installed inside the faucet. Many of them have aerated nozzles that produce a fine mist of water rather than a solid flow. Hardware shops or plumbing supply stores typically carry a wide variety of flow restrictors for sinks as well as for showers.


A shower flow restrictor is installed either inside or outside a shower head, and it works to reduce water use. For example, the average person uses about ten gallons (approximately 38 liters) of water for each minute he or she showers. The installation of a shower head flow restrictor can cut this figure in half, allowing users to save on water expenses and water heating costs in addition to promoting green living. For the most part, high quality restrictors do not decrease the overall quality of the shower and are therefore virtually unnoticeable.

A variety of shower restrictors exist, including internal and external restrictors. Internal restrictors typically look like disks with holes in them, and they usually come in metal or plastic. They are fairly easy to install because they simply fit inside the shower head and water pipe. External restrictors work similarly, but they are visible from the outside because they are screwed on between the shower head and the water pipe.

An air flow restrictor is used to control air flow and pressure, and it can be useful for a number of different purposes. These devices are sometimes installed in engines to limit power. For example, some motorcycle engines contain air restrictors that limit their ability to speed. Air restrictors may also be installed in toy guns to reduce their power when firing.


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Post 4

I think that the heads on watering cans can be considered a type of flow restrictor. I use a one gallon watering can in my garden, and the cap at the end of the spout has several holes that allow just a small amount of water through at a time.

Using a garden hose can be hard on plants if you let the water come out full force. That's why I prefer to use a sprinkling can. It's very gentle on the flowers.

Post 3

@OeKc05 – I think that flow restrictors in a shower system are simply the ones that lessen the flow of water, rather than shutting it off altogether. I have been in showers that had such a strong flow of water that it actually hurt my skin, so I really appreciate flow restrictors. They turn the shower into a drizzling mist that is pleasant and not painful at all.

Post 2

Is a button that pauses the flow of a shower considered a showerhead flow restrictor, or are flow restrictors just the ones that minimize the flow, rather than shutting it off altogether? I have one of these buttons on the side of my showerhead, and after I've gotten wet, I push it to stop the flow of the water while I lather up.

After I have lathered, I push the button from the other side and the shower resumes. It's a really convenient way to save water. The only problem is that when the water comes back on after being off for a couple of minutes, it is usually cold!

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