Repair & Maintenance

Changing a shower head

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close up of shower head
Changing a shower head is a project any homeowner can tackle
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Home repair jobs, especially those that involve plumbing, can appear daunting. One easy to do project that requires little time and few tools is changing a shower head. The up side of doing-it-yourself is the money you'll save by avoiding the middleman, as well as the feeling of satisfaction you'll get for a job well done.

Pick a new shower head

The first part of the project is to pick a brand new shower head.

Water use

Keep in mind that federally mandated efforts to conserve water specify that shower heads cannot flow at a rate greater than 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm). If you decide that pennies mean more than pressure, consider purchasing a two gallons per minute showerhead to make your shower economical as well as enjoyable.

For further water conservation, look for a shower head that comes with an on/off valve that can be turned to off when you are soaping up and then easily turned back on without an adjustment to the water temperature. Keep in mind that a ten-minute shower uses an average of sixty-five gallons of water. Two people use almost fifty thousand gallons of water annually. If they are using hot water that's approximately eight hundred water-heater refills. Changing a shower head to one that conserves water would reduce this usage to less than twenty thousand gallons of water per year and approximately three hundred water-heater refills. A shut off valve would reduce this again by a third. Shower head features

In addition to water pressure, options such as massage, aerated spray, or a wide even spray are a consideration when purchasing a new shower head.

Single control units can be used with any built in shower and operate with one knob that controls both water temperature and pressure. The water temperature can be set permanently allowing the water to be turned off and on without changing the temperature setting.

Other things to look for when purchasing a shower head include the length of the hose (standard is between 4-6 feet), height adjustments, hang up brackets, arms that are flexible and rubber grip handles. Another option for a luxury shower is an oscillating shower head.

For those with small children in the home, consider a shower head with an anti scald option as a safety precaution.


Installing your new showerhead is relatively simple.
  • First, turn the main water off to ensure that you don't get wet during the task.
  • Wrap the attachment nut with masking tape or cloth prior to loosening so that you don't scratch the finish and remove the old hardware with a strap wrench, (a wrench that easily clinches around plumbing fixtures), an adjustable open-end wrench or pliers.
  • Avoid applying too much pressure otherwise you may break the gooseneck off.
  • If the old hardware has mineral build up around it, removing it may be difficult. Do not wrench it off as you risk cracking the feed pipe. Try scrubbing the mineral build up with steel wool or pour two cups of vinegar into a plastic food storage bag and immerse the shower head into it. Hold the bag of vinegar in place with a rubber band and let it sit for twenty four hours. The acidic nature of the vinegar should be enough to loosen the build up. If not, try applying marine jelly or white lithium.
  • The next step in changing a shower head is to clean the threads of any debris and then wrap them with Teflon tape to seal against leaks around the connection.
  • Wrap the tape in a clockwise direction for four to five turns and make sure not to extend the tape above the threaded area otherwise it will be visible when you install your new hardware.
  • Screw the new shower head on and tighten with a wrench. Get as snug as you can but do not over tighten.
  • Turn the water main back on
  • Test for leakage.
  • Your plumbing job is complete!

Home improvement is not as hard as it looks and changing a shower head is one of the easiest projects to complete. So, roll up your sleeves and get dirty. After all, when you're done, you can reward yourself with a nice hot shower; compliments of you.

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