It gave me a lasting feeling of accomplishment when I fixed the shower yesterday afternoon. I had mentioned the symptoms to my aunt a while ago, and she thought there must be a blockage in the mixer. Yesterday when I ran into her after doing dinner with my grandmother (as I do every Wednesday), I asked her if she thought it was something I could fix on my own. I mean, I'm not a plumber by far, but I am capable of a few simple maintenance tasks, even if I have never done them before. She thought I could, provided I have the tools. So I gave it a try.
First I unplugged the hot water tank (never leave it plugged in with the water shut off!), shut off the water, and struggled a bit with a monkey wrench to loosen the bolts and detach the mixer. Yep, the filters on the incoming water were COVERED with brown bits of.. wood chips? I think I saw a root tendril or something in there too. Basically, build-up over a long time slowing down the water flow.
Oh, and look at this: Difference between hot water flow and cold water flow:
Is this normal? (Yes, I know I need to clean my shower cabinet)
Anyway, I rinsed the mixer out the best I could and reattached it and lo and behold, I have normal water pressure again! I just had a glorious shower.
The whole thing got me thinking.. why did I never learn basic home maintenance like this before? In all my time as a kid, I don't remember seeing my parents doing anything of this sort, and I don't remember us ever having a plumber over. Being poor, of course we'd have done it ourselves if possible. So, parents: If you need to do something like this, let your kids watch. This knowledge will be good for them to have later in life.