How to Install a Shower Filter

Discover how to replace the filter in your shower to protect your skin and hair.

Landscape bathroom shower
Peter Dazeley / Getty Images
Project Overview
  • Working Time: 30 - 45 mins
  • Total Time: 45 mins - 1 hr
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $100

Many households throughout the U.S. regularly deal with hard water and potentially harmful contaminants, including chlorine, chloramines, and lead. While the EPA sets drinking water standards to protect people from adverse effects from public water systems, hard water can still affect your hair, skin, and nails. Whole-home filters can be used to filter the water as it enters the home, but if you live in an apartment or condo, you may not have access to the main water line. Despite this setback, you can still filter the water in your shower to help protect your skin, nails, and hair. Simply install an in-line shower filter behind the showerhead or install a built-in showerhead filter.

If your home or community has hard water or water that has high levels of chemical additives, then it's a good idea to invest in a shower filter. Learn how to install a shower filter below.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Channel locks
  • Bucket


  • Teflon tape
  • Shower filter
  • New shower head (optional)


In-Line Shower Filter Installation

In-line filters attach directly to the shower arm, right behind the showerhead, and they are very easy to access in order to replace the filter cartridge, though they do lower the height of the showerhead.

  1. Remove the Showerhead

    The first step in the process is to remove the showerhead from the shower arm. This can typically be achieved by unscrewing the showerhead with your hands, though if the showerhead seems stuck, then you may need to use a set of channel locks to loosen the nut attached to the shower arm.

    Rotate the showerhead counterclockwise until it is fully detached from the shower arm, then set the showerhead to the side in a safe location for reinstallation. If you are installing a new showerhead, then you can dispose of the old showerhead instead of putting it aside.

  2. Clean the Shower Arm and Wrap the Threads

    Inspect the threads on the shower arm and remove any remaining plumber's or Teflon tape so that the threads are completely clean. Use new plumber's tape to wrap the threads of the shower arm in order to help create a watertight seal between the shower arm and the new shower filter and prevent leaks.

  3. Attach the Shower Filter to the Shower Arm

    An in-line shower filter is easy to install. Just line up the shower filter nut with the shower arm and rotate the filter so that it screws onto the shower arm threads. Hand-tighten the shower filter, then use your channel locks or pliers to turn the nut another 1/4-turn to 1/2-turn without overtightening.

  4. Flush the Shower Filter

    New shower filters need to be flushed to remove any sediment, dust, dirt, or packing materials that may have accumulated inside the filter. So before reinstalling the showerhead you will want to turn on the cold water and let it run for about 5 minutes. You can let the water fall into the shower or catch it in a bucket.

    After 5 minutes have passed, slowly turn on the hot water and wait another 5 minutes. The water should not be running clear, but if it isn't, allow the water to run until it is coming out clear before proceeding.

  5. Reinstall the Showerhead

    Reattach the showerhead by screwing it onto the shower filter threads. Hand-tighten the showerhead initially, then snug up the connection with a 1/4-turn or 1/2-turn using a set of channel locks or pliers. If this is a new showerhead, then it's recommended to repeat the flushing process to ensure all debris and contaminants are washed out of the showerhead before anyone uses the shower.

  6. Test for Leaks

    Turn the water on and inspect the connection between the shower filter and the shower arm for any leaks. Also inspect the connection between the shower filter and the showerhead to ensure that there aren't any leaks. If you spot any leaks, then you may need to tighten the shower filter or showerhead further.

Built-in Showerhead Filter Installation

A built-in showerhead filter is exactly what it sounds like: A showerhead with a filter built into it. These filters are compact and won't lower the height of the showerhead, so they are a good option for taller individuals, though the cartridge is more difficult to access.

  1. Remove the Old Showerhead

    The old showerhead is the first thing that needs to be addressed. Rotate the old showerhead counterclockwise to unscrew it from the shower arm, then put it aside to take to a recycling center or toss it in a garbage bag for disposal.

    If you cannot loosen the showerhead with your hands alone, then consider using a set of channel locks or pliers to loosen the nut securing the showerhead to the shower arm.

  2. Clean the Shower Arm and Wrap the Threads

    It's important to have a clean connection between the shower arm and the new built-in showerhead filter, so you need to remove any old plumber's tape and clean the threads on the shower arm. Once the shower arm is clean, wrap new plumber's tape clockwise around the threads. This should prevent them from shifting or unraveling when you install the new showerhead filter.

  3. Flush the Shower Filter

    Built-in showerhead filters need to be flushed before they are installed on the shower arm. Position the filter under the faucet in the bathroom sink and run cold water through the filter for about 5 minutes. Switch to hot water for an additional 5 minutes then check the clarity of the water. If the water is still cloudy, then continue to flush the filter until the water runs clear.

  4. Install the Built-in Showerhead Filter

    After thoroughly flushing the built-in showerhead filter, you are ready to complete the installation. Line the showerhead nut up with the shower arm threads and rotate the showerhead clockwise to secure it to the shower arm. Hand-tighten the showerhead, then use a set of channel locks to snug up the connection by rotating the nut another 1/4-turn or 1/2-turn, ensuring that you don't overtighten.

  5. Test for Leaks

    Turn the water on and inspect the connection between the built-in showerhead filter and the shower arm. Ideally there won't be any water leaking out through this connection, but if there is, you may just need to tighten the showerhead nut another 1/4-turn or 1/2-turn.

Article Sources
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  1. "Drinking Water Contaminants." Environments and Contaminants, United States Environmental Protection Agency.

  2. Srinivasan, Gautham et al. “Effects of hard water on hair.” International journal of trichology vol. 5,3 (2013): 137-9. doi:10.4103/0974-7753.125609