How to Replace a Shower Head

Updated
Time for a change? Here's how to change your shower head.

Changing a shower head is a DIY task you can carry out with the help of just a few tools. Maybe you want to update your existing model to match your decor or get rid of a leaky, gunky old shower head for a new one. Either way, we’ve got you covered on how to replace a shower head.

An old shower head could be washing your money down the drain. It might use more water than you need, or you need to run it for longer because the spray doesn’t have enough pressure. No matter the issue, it’s a simple process to get it changed.


Reasons for Changing a Shower Head

Some of these could be signs that you’re not getting the best performance out of your current shower head:

Clogged Up

Water can be hard on your plumbing and appliances. It contains minerals such as calcium and magnesium that can form scale and block the holes in your shower head. This is especially the case if you live in a hard water area (1).

Leaks

Just like anything else, shower heads have a shelf life. Without warning, they can spring leaks and drench your bathroom ceiling or floor with water. You turn on the shower and water is spraying from all directions — when this happens, it could be time for a change.

Low Water Pressure

There’s nothing worse than turning your shower on and having to chase around the dribble that comes out of it. Some shower heads can help increase the flow of water through your shower head, even when your pressure is low. They’re designed with smaller holes for the jets of water to come through, and can help your shower head perform better.

Feel Like a Change

We all go through changes in taste, no matter if it’s fashion or home appliances. Perhaps you’re changing the style of your bathroom, and your old shower head doesn’t fit anymore. Or, maybe you’ve simply found one that’s more aesthetically pleasing.

Whatever the case, you don’t need an excuse to change a shower head. If you want a new one, go for it!

How to Replace a Shower Head

Replacing your shower head should be a relatively quick and easy job. Once you’ve chosen and purchased your new shower head, follow our guide below.

Be Prepared

Before you start, be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions that come with your product. The specific instructions may vary depending on the brand and model.

What You Need

  • Blanket or towel.
  • New shower head.
  • Wrench.
  • Pliers.
  • Soft cloths.
  • Old toothbrush.
  • Plumber’s tape.

1. Prepare the Area

Before starting, make sure you protect the bottom of your shower tray or tub. Place a blanket or towel over it to protect it in case you drop any tools.

Cover your drain too. This will prevent any small parts from falling into it and getting lost.

2. Assemble the Shower Head

Some shower heads might need assembly before you can attach them. There may be rubber washers that need to be inserted or water flow restrictors. Assemble the shower head according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

3. Turn Off the Water Supply

Make sure the faucets to your shower, both hot and cold, are turned off. You shouldn’t need to turn off the supply to the whole home.

4. Remove the Old Shower Head

Take off the old shower head by unscrewing it counter-clockwise.

If it’s been in place for some time, you might need to use a wrench to do this as the fitting might have corroded. To do this:

  • Protect: Cover the shower arm with a cloth to protect the finish.
  • Remove: Hold the cloth in place with pliers while you use a wrench to turn the shower head.
Pro Tips
  • Pipe: Take care not to turn the pipe coming out of the wall. This could cause an unseen leak behind the wall, which might lead to water damage.
  • Backup: Protect the old shower head from damage in case you need to reuse it. Your new one might not fit or might have a defect.

5. Clean the Threads

Dirt or gunk might have built up around the threads on your existing fitting. Remove this with a damp cloth. If there are stubborn bits in the grooves, scrub the threads with an old toothbrush.

Once they’re clean, make sure you dry them off with a cloth or some paper towels.

6. Apply Plumber’s Tape

The thread needs to be wrapped in plumber’s tape to prevent leaks and get a good seal when you attach your new shower head:

  • Clockwise: Start at the base and wrap the tape in a clockwise direction three times until all the threads are covered.
  • Snug fit: To ensure the tape is sealed on all the threads, run your finger or thumb over the tape once it’s in place to push it into the grooves.

Be Careful

Don’t wrap the tape in a counter-clockwise direction. This could cause it to unwrap as you screw your new shower head on, and it might not create a seal.

7. Screw on Your New Shower Head

Now it’s time to attach your new shower head. To do this, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. It generally entails screwing the new shower head on by hand in a clockwise direction. Be careful not to overtighten it as this could damage the threads or the shower head.

8. Turn on Your Water

Don’t forget to remove your towel or blanket from the base of your shower pan or tub. Direct the spray from the shower head away from you and turn on the hot and cold faucets to check for leaks.

You might need to tighten the shower head more if you notice any leaks. Or, unscrew it and apply more plumber’s tape.

Pro Tip

You might need to use a wrench to tighten the shower more. If you do, make sure you wrap the shower head in a cloth first, so you don’t damage it. Screw a quarter turn at a time to prevent overtightening.

It’s Shower Time

Now you know how to replace a shower head, you may have found the source of your leak. You may also notice an increase in water pressure: no more running around your shower chasing the drips. Shower time will be a pleasure again!

Just remember, for many, this will be a quick and easy task. But, if you’re uncertain about what you’re doing, call a professional to help.

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About the Author

Peter Gray

Peter has been a homeowner for 35+ years and has always done his own repair and improvement tasks. As a retired plumber, Peter now spends his time teaching others how they can fix leaks, replace faucets, and make home improvements on a budget.
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