Nothing feels as good as a hot shower after a long day, but what if the shower continues to drip long after you step out of the bed? A leaking faucet can be a major annoyance and even add to your water bill, but luckily, this repair can be done easily, and often without the help of a plumber. Read on to learn more about repairing or replacing a shower head.
How to fix a leaky shower head
Water can leak out of your shower head for a number of reasons. The first – and most obvious – starting point is the shower head itself. For this and all shower head repairs, turn off the water first. Then find the nut on the shower arm, just behind the head itself. You may need to carefully loosen the nut with a wrench, but if you are concerned about scratching or damaging the surface of the shower arm, you can place a washcloth over the nut as you twist it . Then turn the shower head counterclockwise until it is removed.
Once the shower head is removed from the shower arm, flip it over to inspect the inside. The first thing you might notice is mineral buildup on the screen and nozzles. If so, see the next section for instructions on how to remove the clog from your shower head. Otherwise, you should take a close look at the o-rings inside the shower head. Over time, these rubber rings can wear out and eventually break. If you find a defective o-ring, take it to a local hardware store for an exact size replacement. However, before reassembling the shower head, you should wrap the threads of the shower arm with waterproof tape such as Teflon tape. This will help form a watertight seal and reduce future leakage.
If new o-rings and waterproof tape don’t stop dripping, the problem may be with the faucet handle. Compression faucets have two handles, one for hot and one for cold, and a broken washing machine in one of the faucets could prevent it from closing and water from getting to the shower head. The first step in this repair is to determine which faucet handle is causing the leak. This can be done by checking the temperature of the water exiting the shower head. Once you’ve figured out which faucet handle to fix, disassemble it by removing the small screw under the handle. Next, remove the nut and washer, replace the washer with a new one, and reassemble the faucet handle.
In showers with single lever operation, the problem may be a defective cartridge in the valve body. Find the small screw under the handle, then remove the handle, decorative faceplate, and cap covering the valve body. Inside there is a plastic cartridge. If it’s broken, first remove the nut or clip that holds it in place, then use pliers to gently pull the cartridge out. Replace the cartridge with a new one and reassemble the faucet.
How to free a shower head
Over time, the mineral build-up in your water supply can build up on the inside of your shower head. This is especially true for houses with hard water. The build-up of minerals could reduce water pressure, clog nozzles, and eventually lead to leaks at the back of the shower head as the water has to find another route. Showering with reduced water pressure and listening to the constant drip from the shower head is certainly frustrating, but luckily the solution is pretty simple.
This repair can be done without removing the shower head yourself, but is more effective if the head is removed. Follow the instructions above to remove the shower head. Then soak the entire shower head in a cleaning solution for at least an hour or overnight. Soaking in white vinegar is often enough, but stronger cleaning solutions may occasionally be required. If you cannot remove your shower head, fill a plastic bag with the cleaner and secure the bag to the shower head with a zip tie or rubber band.
After the shower head is soaked, take the faucet out of the cleaner and thoroughly scrub each nozzle with an old toothbrush. You can also use a toothpick to gently remove mineral build-up in each nozzle head. Once the shower head is free of debris, rinse it out with clean water and reattach it to the shower arm.
Upgrade your shower head
Even if your shower head is working just fine, you may feel like it’s time for an update. Whether you want to update the finishes in your bathroom or create a spa-like experience with a rainfall shower head, replacing your shower head is a quick project with a big impact. First turn off the water supply and remove the shower head according to the instructions above. You will most likely need to remove the shower arm as well, especially if the surfaces are different. Simply turn the shower arm counterclockwise until it releases from the pipe in the wall. Next, follow the instructions to reassemble your new shower head and enjoy the updated look of your bathroom.
Repair or replace your shower head
Repairing a leaky shower head may seem like a plumber’s job, but often you can easily do the repair yourself. First, remove the shower head and replace any broken o-rings or remove the blockage if mineral buildup has formed. If this doesn’t prevent your shower head from dripping, you may need to look down at the faucet downstream of the shower head itself. With compression fittings, the problem may be a broken or worn washer in the faucet handle. With single-lever showers, there may be a broken cartridge in the valve body. While these solutions will help most homeowners fix leaking shower heads, if you still see water leaking when the shower is off and you need it Repair shower, it may be time to call your local licensed plumber. A drip-free shower is just around the corner!
Alan Smith is the Marketing Coordinator for Spartan plumbing, heating & air conditioning. Spartan is a leading plumbing / HVAC company serving all types of businesses and homes in the Washington DC area and parts of Maryland. Spartan has an A + rating from the Better Business Bureau and has been named the Best Plumber in DC for four consecutive years.