How to Replace a Shower Head

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Whether you’re changing a broken shower head or simply updating your bathroom with more efficient fixtures, replacing a shower head can be a relatively easy process for both seasoned and beginner DIYers. This quick how-to guide will help you install your new fixed-mount, fixed-mount and handheld, or handheld only shower head quickly and effectively.

What you’ll need:

  1. A new shower head

  2. An adjustable wrench

  3. Plumber’s tape

Preparation

The first step of changing your shower head is preparing your work area. Place an old towel at the bottom of your tub to stop any hardware from falling into the drain. This will also prevent you from scratching the surface of your tub as you work.

Warnings & Safety

When you remove your old shower head, be sure not to apply to much torque. This break the supply pipe or damage other plumbing fixtures, resulting in an additional plumbing bill. You should also turn off the water supply to avoid any additional mess.

Savings

Shopping for the right shower head is the first step towards savings. Many homeowners shy away from low flow fixtures because they believe there will be a significant loss in water pressure. However, with new, redesigned shower heads this isn’t the case.

There are two types of low-flow shower heads: aerating and non-aerating. Aerating shower heads mix air into the stream of water, maintaining the water pressure you like while conserving water. This technique may lower the temperature of the water very slightly, which may serve as a drawback for those who enjoy very hot showers. Non-aerating shower heads pulse the stream, using significantly less water without loss of pressure or reduced temperature.

These shower heads can cost anywhere from $10 to $100, with more expensive shower heads offering more features. However, you can save around $10 a month on your water and energy bills, so you’ll quickly regain the cost even if you choose a fixture at the higher end of this spectrum.

How to replace a shower head - Northside Tool Rental blogGetting Started

Step One: Remove your old shower head

Note: Some shower heads can be removed without tools by simply turning the shower head counterclockwise.

Use your adjustable wrench to remove the old shower head. Wrap the jaws of the wrench with plumber’s tape to avoid stripping the fixture.

Once the shower head has been removed, clean off any rust, old plumber’s tape or putty, or mineral deposits with an old rag.

Step Two: Apply Plumber’s Tape

Use plumber’s tape to wrap the threads in the direction the fixture will be tightened (clockwise). Wrap 2-3 layers. Press the tape firmly into the threads so the fixture can get a good grip.

Plumber’s tape will help prevent leakage. If you’d like the tape to be invisible once the shower head is installed, only cover the thread.

Step Three, Part One: Install a Fixed-Mount Shower head

If you’re installing a handheld or fixed-mount / handheld hybrid, move on to the next steps.

For fixed-mount only shower heads, screw the new fixture clockwise onto the shower arm. You should be able to hand-tighten the shower head, but you can also use your adjustable wrench. Be sure you wrap the wrench with plumber’s tape to avoid scratching the new fixture.

Turn on your water supply to check for leaks. If there is a leak, try re-tightening the shower head. If this doesn’t work, remove the shower head, re-tape the thread, and then repeat this step.

Step Three, Part Two: Install a Fixed-Mount / Handheld Hybrid Shower head

If you’re installing a handheld shower head only, move on to the next step.

A fixed-mount / handheld hybrid shower head requires the most complex installation, but it’s still a very simple project to complete.

Attach the diverter to the shower stem. Tighten by hand. Using a wrench can often result in over-tightening, which can damage your plumbing fixtures and result in hefty plumbing costs.

Place a washer in the neck of the fixed shower head and attach it to the diverter. Again, hand tighten this piece. Every diverter is different, so you’ll want to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when you install the handheld mount.

Next, you’ll install the hose extension. As you did in previous steps, you’ll apply plumber’s tape to the threaded end of the diverter. Attach the hose to the diverter and the handheld shower head. Tighten by hand to avoid over-tightening and damaging the fixture. Place the handheld shower head in the mount.

Turn on your water supply to check for leaks. If there is a leak, try re-tightening the shower head. If this doesn’t work, remove the shower head, re-tape the thread, and then repeat this step.

Step Four, Part Three: Install a Handheld Shower head

Installing a handheld shower head is very similar to a fixed-mount only, with one additional step. To begin, screw the shower mount onto the shower arm.

Attach the hose to both the handheld shower head and the shower mount. Tighten the hose by hand, and do not use the wrench. Place the handheld shower head in the mount.

Turn on your water supply to check for leaks. If there is a leak, try re-tightening the shower head. If this doesn’t work, remove the shower head, re-tape the thread, and then repeat this step.

Check for Leaks

Some leaks may not be visible to the naked eye. To check for leaks inside the wall, place a glass cup face-down against the wall and listen for internal leaks. If you hear leaks inside the walls, call a professional plumber to repair the damage.

Additional Savings

You’re well on your way to being a pro DIYer! Making home repairs and upgrades yourself can have significant savings over the course of your home ownership. Now that you’ve successfully replaced your shower head, you can tackle those other challenging to-dos with confidence in your handyman abilities.

For any other projects around the home, you can also dramatically increase your savings by renting your tools from Northside Tool Rental. With hundreds of tools to choose from for every variety of job, you’ll be able to spend your money on.