Traditional showerheads may need replacing for several reasons. Sometimes they simply build up with lime or calcium deposits and stop spraying correctly. Alternatively, you may want to install a showerhead with modern flow-restriction features that use less water. Sometimes, it's just a matter of wanting 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.
Fortunately, this is one of the easier DIY projects you can attempt, and 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.
Tools and Materials
Step 1: Remove the Old Showerhead
Replacing your showerhead doesn't require any shutoff of the main water supply—simply closing the shower valve itself fully is all that's required.
- 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.
- Examine the base of the showerhead and identify the pipe nipple that connects the showerhead to the supply pipe inside the wall. This is usually an angled, goose-neck pipe with a slight bend in it.
- Grip the base of the showerhead at the flat spots, using an adjustable wrench. Turn counterclockwise to unscrew the head.
- Clean the threads on the goose-neck of any debris, such as old pipe compound or plumber's tape.
Step 2: Prepare the Goose-Neck Nipple
Once you've cleaned the threads of old debris, you should 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 to 12 inches long, and 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
Step 3: 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.
- 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 nipple.
- If the showerhead leaks at the connection, tighten the connection 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. With showerheads that have a secondary washer, tighten with hand-pressure only, not a wrench. It's possible to force the washer up into the goose-neck if you use too much pressure.
- Check again for leaks. If the connection still leaks, you may need to disassemble and apply fresh Teflon plumber's tape.