How to Install a Handheld Showerhead

  • 01 of 06

    Handheld Shower Options

    Woman showering
    Ed Bock / Getty Images

    Handheld showers (also called movable shower heads) are convenient and feel great! Getting hot water directly on an achy joint is something you can do only with a handheld shower. Many models attach easily to your existing shower arm, the short, bent pipe that comes out of the wall and connects to the showerhead. A handheld shower also can be installed onto a tub spout with a handheld shower diverter fitting. 

    Supplies Needed

    • Adjustable wrench or channel-type pliers
    • Plumber's tape
    • Handheld...MORE showerhead kit
    • Tub spout with diverter (as needed)
    • Hex key (as needed)
    • Piece of heavy cloth or leather
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  • 02 of 06

    Removing the Old Showerhead

    Remove the old showerhead, using an adjustable wrench or channel-type pliers. Turn the showerhead nut counterclockwise to loosen it. The showerhead probably will turn along with nut, which is fine. If you will use the showerhead elsewhere, protect its finish by wrapping it with a piece of heavy cloth or leather before using the wrench or pliers. 

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  • 03 of 06

    Preparing the Shower Arm

    Clean the threads on the shower arm to remove mineral deposits or old pipe compound or plumber's tape. Wrap the threads with plumber's tape, wrapping in a clockwise direction (as you face the end of the shower arm) four or five times. The tape helps to prevent the new shower fitting from leaking at the connection. Keep the tape on the threaded area so it won't show when the new showerhead unit is installed. 

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  • 04 of 06

    Installing a Handheld Showerhead — Standard Fitting

    A standard fitting for a handheld shower attaches to the existing shower arm and replaces the old showerhead with a flexible hose and handheld shower unit. The handheld unit either screws onto the end of the shower arm or fits onto a bracket that's mounted to the wall, depending on the model. 

    1. Screw the handheld showerhead base onto the shower arm, and hand-tighten.
    2. Attach the flexible shower hose to the cross-T in and hand-tighten. 
    3. Turn on the water at the faucet and check for leaks. If the...MORE handheld showerhead base leaks at the connection to the threaded shower arm, tighten the connection carefully with an adjustable wrench or channel-type pliers, using a piece of heavy cloth or leather to protect the finish.
    4. Mount the wall bracket, if applicable, following the manufacturer's directions. 
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  • 05 of 06

    Install a Handheld Showerhead — Cross-T Diverter Fitting

    A diverter fitting works with the existing showerhead and includes a hose and handheld showerhead unit as a secondary showerhead. The diverter T-fitting has two outlets—one for connecting the new handheld showerhead and hose and one for connecting the original showerhead. 

    1. Attach the cross-T diverter fitting onto the end of the shower arm, and hand-tighten. 
    2. Screw the original showerhead onto one outlet on the cross-T diverter, and hand-tighten. 
    3. Fasten the flexible hose of the handheld showerhead...MORE onto the outer outlet on the cross-T diverter, and hand-tighten.
    4. Turn on the water at the faucet and check for leaks. If the showerhead, flexible hose, or cross-T diverter fitting are leaking at any of the connections, tighten the connection carefully with an adjustable wrench or channel-type pliers, using a piece of heavy cloth or leather to protect the finish.
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  • 06 of 06

    Install Handheld Showerhead —Tub Spout Diverter Valve

    A tub spout diverter valve is commonly used when you want to add a shower function and there is no existing showerhead. Usually, this requires replacing the old tub spout with a new one that has a hand shower diverter.

    1. Remove the old tub spout. If there is a hex-head (Allen) setscrew on the spout, it is a slip-on type: loosen the setscrew with a hex key (Allen wrench) and slide the spout off the pipe nipple coming out of the wall. If it doesn't have a setscrew it is a threaded type: unscrew...MORE the spout counterclockwise until it comes off the threaded nipple. 
    2. Purchase a new diverter-style tub spout that uses the same attachment method as the old one—slip-on or threaded. If yours is threaded, wrap the pipe nipple threads with four or five wraps of plumber's tape, wrapping it clockwise, then screw on the spout and hand-tighten. Install a slip-on spout by slipping it over the pipe nipple and tightening the setscrew with a hex key. 
    3. Wrap the threads of the tub diverter fitting with plumber's tape, then attach the flexible shower hose to the fitting, and hand-tighten. 
    4. Mount the slide bar or mounting bracket (for the handheld showerhead) to the wall,  following manufacturer's directions.
    5. Turn on the water and check the showerhead unit for leaks. If the showerhead, hose, or diverter are leaking, tighten the connection carefully with an adjustable wrench or channel-type pliers, using a piece of heavy cloth or leather to protect the finish.