A lady replacing a shower head with the words, "how to replace a shower head."

Taking a shower is one of those things that everyone takes for granted. It’s part of your daily routine, so there’s not much to think about beyond getting in, cleaning up, and drying off. However, if you have an old, outdated, or broken showerhead, this relaxing process becomes far less enjoyable. Now, instead of just taking a shower, you have to plan accordingly, which can add a nuisance to your day. 

Fortunately, it’s easy to replace your showerhead when the time comes. Whether your current head is busted, or you just want an upgrade, here’s everything you need to know about how to replace a showerhead. 

Step 1: Choosing a New Showerhead

Since you’re going to install a new head, you should take the time to compare the different options available. Showerheads have come a long way in recent years, so there may be new models you weren’t aware of before. Here’s a quick overview of what you can install into your bathroom. 

  • Mounting System – First and foremost, you need a showerhead that’s compatible with your mounting bracket (more on that later). The options are top mounted, wall-mounted, handheld, or sliding bar. Each option has its pros and cons, so you need to consider each before making a final decision. 
  • Flow Rate – On one hand, you want high water pressure so you can clean yourself more efficiently. On the other hand, if the pressure is too high, you’ll waste a lot more water. You can look for showerheads with the EPA WaterSense label. These heads don’t use more than two gallons per minute (GPM), but they’re still quite effective. 
  • Add-Ons – Modern showerheads can come with all kinds of high-tech gadgetry. Examples include customizable lights, Bluetooth syncing, and touchscreen panels. So, if you like the idea of having an intelligent shower that can learn your settings and adjust accordingly, that may be worth the higher price of installation. 

Overall, you know what features are most valuable to you when you shower. If necessary, write down a list of “must-haves” and “want-to-haves” and compare them to your budget. 

Step 2: Remove the Old Showerhead

Since the shower knobs control water flow to the head, you shouldn’t have to shut off the water before starting this project. However, some water will still be left in the mounting arm, so you need to be prepared to get a little wet. To avoid this problem, you can wrap a rag or towel around the arm before removing the head. 

Typically, all it takes is a few twists with an adjustable wrench to loosen the head enough to come off. Now is the time to remember the adage “righty-tighty, lefty-loosey.” If the mounting bolt doesn’t move, you may need to attach a slip-joint wrench around the arm to brace it. You may also want to spray a little WD-40 to loosen the bolt if it is rusted or stuck to the arm. 

Step 3: Clean the Shower Arm

Now that the shower head is off, you can clean the arm, so it’s ready for the new showerhead. There are a couple of reasons to focus on this step and not just move on to step four: 

  • Cleaner Water – Rust and mineral deposits have likely collected at the base of the showerhead after years of use. Unfortunately, these elements can leach into your water, making your shower dirtier than you might have realized. 
  • Better Water Pressure – Another side effect of buildup is that it causes the shower to lose pressure when turned on. Removing these components can make your shower work more efficiently and give you more water overall. 

Step 4: Wrap the Shower Arm with Showerhead Tape

There may already be tape on the threading where the shower arm attaches to the head. If so, remove the old tape and clean the threads as much as possible. Doing this ensures a tighter seal to avoid leaks and costly utility bills. 

Plumber’s tape is the best option, but any kind of Teflon or waterproof tape will do the trick. Wrap it a few times around the threading in a clockwise motion. Going in this direction is imperative because the showerhead will screw in the same way. If both the tape and the head are applied in opposite directions, you could remove the tape by accident. 

As you apply the tape, use your fingers to press it into the grooves. Otherwise, you’ll have a harder time installing the new head. You may also experience more leaks because of the looser seal. 

Step 5: Install the Replacement Shower Head

How you install your showerhead depends on the mounting bracket you choose. Here’s a breakdown of each option and how to screw it on. 

Standard Wall Mount

This is the cheapest showerhead, and it simply screws onto the threading of the arm. A few twists clockwise, and you should be ready to go. You should also use your adjustable wrench to tighten it a bit more than what you can do with your hand. 

Top Mount

If your old showerhead was a top-mounted model, you can also screw in the new head by hand. However, if you’re trying to upgrade to a top-mounted shower, you need to call professional plumbers to change your shower arm. 

Handheld Showerhead

You should be able to screw this head on regardless of the type of mounting arm you have. In this case, you simply attach the head to the arm, then screw the hose to the head. In many cases, the handheld components will connect to the showerhead directly. However, you may need to mount brackets to the wall above the shower knobs. In this case, you should consult a professional to ensure you don’t accidentally puncture any water pipes behind the wall. If you have a tile backsplash, it can break easily if you don’t know what you’re doing. 

Sliding Bar

This type of showerhead mounts to the wall first; then, you can attach the sliding head. As with a handheld model, be sure to call a professional, so you don’t damage your shower or break anything behind the wall. 

Step 6: Check for Leaks

Once your new showerhead is mounted, give it a test drive. Doing this will show you if there are any leaks or other issues with the new equipment. You want to do this immediately after installing the head so you can make any adjustments right away. Otherwise, if you wait until you take a shower, you might not be able to fix it for a while. 

Typically, if there is a leak, you just need more plumber’s tape. However, if the leak isn’t where the head and arm connect, you should call a professional plumber to identify the problem

Need Help Installing a New Showerhead or Other Bathroom Plumbing Projects?

While DIY plumbing can help you save money, it’s also a bit complicated. Depending on your setup, replacing a showerhead can be a straightforward process or a multi-step headache. Regardless of the situation, it’s always good to have a professional on your side, which is why the professionals at Bewley Plumbing are available for all your plumbing projects. Contact us today to find out more.