How to Replace a Shower Head: Six Easy Steps!

Are you tired of your out-dated shower head and arm that’s been there for longer than you can remember? It should probably be replaced with something new and exciting that’ll improve the aesthetics of your bathroom. With innovation throughout the years, all those new showerheads with fancy settings can help you prevent water waste and turn your dream into a reality. Your showering experience is about to be drastically improved with this easy DIY task at the expense of a few minutes only!

Before You Start

Gather All the Necessary Tools and Materials

  • Old towel or rag
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Slip-joint pliers
  • New Shower head
  • Shower arm/extension (if applicable)
  • Pipe-thread or Teflon tape

Turn Off the Water Supply

You wouldn’t want water spraying around. Hence you shouldn’t remove the current shower head without turning off the water supply line. Not all showers have a water shut off knob. If that’s the case with yours, make sure to turn off the main water supply at your home, generally located near your water heater or in your basement. Otherwise, you’d turn off the water supply to your shower if there’s one. Once adequately tightened, you’re secured from water leakages as you get ready to work on replacing your shower head and perhaps shower arm.

Prepare the Area

Before you start working on the task, place an old towel down the tub or shower floor to protect the porcelain or fiberglass surface from scratches. For extra precaution, you can prevent any shower pieces from falling down the drain by applying tape over the drain to have it covered from anything that could go down.

Replacing a Shower Head and Arm

Step 1: Remove the Old Shower Head

You don’t want to damage the tiles, chrome finish, or turn the pipe in the wall. So, if you’re keeping the shower arm before you grip onto its base, wrap an old towel around both ends to protect it from scratches. A loosely screwed shower head can be removed by hand with counterclockwise rotation. If it’s a really old shower head that’s seen better days, it might be eroded, and you’ll need to use an adjustable wrench to remove it. Fasten the wrench onto the base of the shower head. With counterclockwise turns, completely detach the shower head from the arm while holding the pipe softly with slip-joint pliers.

Step 2: Remove the Old Shower Arm(Optional)

If you’re removing the shower arm altogether, be sure to protect it with an old towel. Take your adjustable wrench, and before you start to loosen anything up, have it secured on the shower arm’s base. Loosen it up by turning it counterclockwise, and then you can undo it by hand. Take off the cover plate and replace it with the new one.

Step 3: Get Rid of Excess Dirt

Use a clean rag to wipe off the threads of the shower arm. It’ll increase the water pressure and make the installation process easier with the new shower head. If there are hard to reach buildup in between the threads, use an old toothbrush to wipe them clean and remove any remaining gunk. Make sure to dry out the threads before applying Teflon tape.

Step 4: Tape the Threads

First, unravel any old Teflon tape if it’s worn out or not in good condition. Start applying Teflon tape over the shower arm’s threads in a clockwise manner until you reach the threads’ end. Each layer of tape should be covering half of the previous layer. The reason why is the direction of the lines that you’ll thread on your new shower head is going to be clockwise. So you want to make sure that you’re going with the thread, not against the thread. Once you screw the new shower head-on, the Teflon tape will act as a seal, essentially preventing leaks.

Step 5: Install the Replacement Shower Head

If you’re changing the shower arm, the long side goes into the wall, and both thread’s ends should be Teflon taped. Start hand tightening it as much as you can, but make sure you don’t cross-thread it. Then take an adjustable wrench and carefully tighten it without rubbing it too much against the finish. Give it a couple of turns until it’s nice and tight. 

Always consult with the manufacturer’s manual for any specific instructions. Secure the new shower head into place by attaching it onto the shower arm with clockwise hand twisting. Once you have the shower head secured, if necessary, use an adjustable wrench or pliers to tighten it, but be sure to cover it from scratches with an old towel. Use the pliers to get a good grip onto the towel-covered shower arm’s base to hold it in place. Secure the adjustable wrench and start to turn the shower head with clockwise rotation.

Step 6: Adjust and Check for Leaks 

Now that you have your new shower head ready to go, turn the water back on. Run the shower; make sure everything is working without any leaks coming from the joints’ back. In case of any leakage appearance, you’ll need to reapply sufficient Teflon tape on the threads and tighten it some more, but first turn the water supply off. Double-check on the rubber seal in case of damage and make sure it’s properly lined up. If water is still leaking in the worst-case scenario, some of the parts might have been damaged. Closely inspect the parts and joints and make sure everything is connected correctly. If anything seems to be displaced, you might need to start over.

Maintain your Fixture

Keep buildups at bay and adequately clean your shower head on the first sign of clogs. Make it a habit, and be sure to clean your new fixture regularly. Not only will it help your shower fixture efficiency, but it’s also vital for the health of your family. With proper maintenance, you’ll have your shower fixture running for years to come.

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