Traditional showerheads may need replacing for several reasons. Sometimes they simply build up with lime or calcium deposits and stop spraying correctly or they leak. Often the reason is simpler: you may want to install a showerhead with modern flow-restriction features that use less water, or you may just want a new style.
While this is also an opportunity to add a hand-held shower hose to your fixture, in many cases, a simple replacement of the old showerhead with a new one will be just fine.
This is one of the easier DIY projects you can attempt. You can spend anywhere from a few dollars for a very basic showerhead to several hundred for a showerhead with a decorative finish and multiple spray settings. Either way, the installation process is usually the same.
Equipment / Tools
- Adjustable wrench
- Plumber's tape
- New showerhead
Remove the Old Showerhead
Make sure the shower valve is shut off fully. If the faucet is leaking at all, now would be a good time to address that issue, either by repairing it or replacing it entirely.
Grip the base of the showerhead at the flat spots; use an adjustable wrench and turn counterclockwise to unscrew the head.
Clean the threads at the end of the goose-neck pipe to which the showerhead was attached. Be sure to remove any debris, such as old pipe compound or plumber's tape.
Prepare the Goose-Neck Pipe
Once you've cleaned the threads of old debris, wrap the threads in plumber's tape to prevent leakage when the new showerhead is installed.
Cut a length of Teflon plumber's tape about 9-12 inches long. Wrap it around the threads in a clockwise direction for several turns. Don't allow the tape to extend above the threaded area, or the tape will show when the new head is installed.
Use your fingers and gently press the tape into the threads. The texture of the threads should be visible through the tape.
Install the New Showerhead
Remove the new showerhead from its packaging and examine the parts. Some showerheads have a rubber or neoprene washer that must be installed inside the threaded fitting; others will seal automatically. If the showerhead has a secondary washer, press it into the threaded inlet opening, making sure it is seated tightly.
Screw the showerhead onto the goose-neck shower arm and hand-tighten as tight as possible. Then, turn on the shower valve and watch the showerhead. Look for leaks around the base of the head, where it connects to the goose-neck pipe.
If the showerhead leaks at the connection, tighten it slightly more. Take care here, as it's possible to damage the gooseneck or even break the pipe connection inside the wall if you use too much force.
Check again for leaks. If the connection still leaks, you may need to disassemble and apply fresh Teflon plumber's tape.
Use caution when installing a showerhead that has a secondary washer. For these assemblies, tighten with hand pressure only, not a wrench. It's possible to force the washer up into the gooseneck if you use too much pressure.