How to Change a Shower Head

Replacing your own shower head is easy and saves money

Plumber working on shower head in bathroom

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An easy way to spruce up your bathroom is to change the showerhead. Installing a new shower head is a simple and relatively inexpensive do-it-yourself project.

Shower Head Cost

You can spend anywhere from $10 to $500 for a showerhead. There's a model to fit every taste and budget. Showerhead manufacturers include Kohler, Moen, Delta, Grohe and American Standard.

Shower Head Types

Most showerheads are mounted on the wall, but a few are attached to the ceiling. Before you buy a shower head, ensure that the water pressure is adequate for your purposes. Keep in mind that federal regulations do require a maximum flow of 2.5 gallons per minute (GPM), at 80 pounds per square inch (PSI).

Items Needed to Change a Shower Head

  • New shower head
  • A soft cloth or soft jaw pliers to protect the finish
  • Damp paper towel, wire brush, or an old toothbrush
  • Stool or ladder
  • Adjustable wrench/channel locks
  • Thread tape—available at the hardware store

Steps to Change a Shower Head

The first thing you should do is read the instructions that accompany your new shower head. Some showerheads need to be assembled, may contain a rubber washer or need to be attached to an extension arm.

Here are simple instructions to change a shower head that is mounted to a wall:

  • Turn off the faucet: If you try to remove the existing showerhead with the faucets turned on, water will shoot everywhere. As long as your faucets are in the "off" position and they function, it's not necessary to turn off the water to the house.
  • Unscrew the existing showerhead: If the showerhead hasn't been removed for decades, it could be corroded and you will need to use a wrench to get it off. Turn the neck of the showerhead counter-clockwise to remove it. Be careful not to turn the pipe in the wall. If necessary, turn the showerhead by hand while holding the connecting pipe still with some pliers. Wrap the pipe with a soft cloth first, or use soft jaw pliers to protect it.
  • Remove excess dirt: You may find gunk around the threaded extension pipe coming through the wall after removing the old showerhead. Use a damp paper towel, wire brush or old toothbrush to wipe the threads clean. Dry the threads before applying the thread tape.
  • Apply the thread tape: You want to use enough tape to wrap around the threads, with each layer covering half of the previous layer as you wrap up the threads. Start at the base and moving clockwise, wrap around twice, then continue going around until you reach the end of the threads.
    • If you wrap counter-clockwise, the tape will unravel when you screw on the new shower head.
    • If you run short, remove the tape and start over with a longer piece. Squeeze the tape and threads between your thumb and forefinger to smooth it into the threads. The tape will seal the connection between your new shower head and the pipe in the wall, preventing leaks.
  • Attach the new shower head: Read the product manufacturer's instructions. Your showerhead may not require a wrench to securely fasten it to the pipe in the wall. Hand-screw it clockwise onto the threads. When it is secure, hand tighten it a quarter turn. The showerhead should feel a little more than snug. Any more than that and you risk breaking the plastic connecting nut.
  • Turn on the faucet: Step out of the way, angle the shower head toward a wall away from you and turn on the cold and hot faucets.
  • Check for leaks: If you spot a leak, the showerhead may not be tightened enough. There may not be enough tape on the threads, or the black rubber seal wasn't put in properly or is damaged. The thread tape might have been displaced when you installed the head.
    • Turn off the faucet, and check the seal, retape the showerhead, and retighten. If you still have leaks from the showerhead connecting nut, one of the components may have been damaged.

Your showerhead should be fully functional. If the water flow or pressure seems low, you might need to go through the last step again, to verify there is nothing obstructing the flow.​