Of all the home plumbing repairs you could tackle, the replacement of an old showerhead with a new one is probably the easiest. A shower plumbing project is a good starter project for a number of reasons. No special tools are required, the necessary parts are pretty close to one size fits all, and if you do make a mistake and have a leak, the only thing that gets wet is your shower/bathtub. This is the perfect project for the novice home repair handyman to start with and can usually be completed in well under an hour.
The 1st step is to choose what sort of shower head you need to replace. While most shower fixtures connect to a normal size pipe thread, you have to ensure you have enough clearance for your new showerhead. If the stem ( the portion of the pipe from the wall to the current shower head ) is short or near to the ceiling you’ll want to check before getting a huge fixture.
The Tools you want – For this project, you’ll need a wrench or pliers and some teflon tape. Relying on the age of your present fixture, you can also must have a pipe wrench on hand as well. You might also want to have something available shield your fixture from the jaws of the wrench or pliers ( a folded rag or piece of rubber from an inner tube work fine )
take away the Old Showerhead – If you’ve got an older unit you have some rust, oxidization, or lime buildup that can make removal troublesome. If the fixture doesn’t enthusiastically unscrew, use 2 sets of pliers / wrenches ( with the jaws of each protected as indicated above ), one set on the stem and the other on the fixture. Apply equal pressure to both sides to until the showerhead begins to move. Watch out not to apply too much force as you don’t need to break either the stem or existing showerhead. Once the shower head begins to turn you might be able to remove it by hand.
Clean and prepare the stem pipe – a little preparation here could save you rather a lot of time later if you make a decision to replace the showerhead again. Clean the threads of the stem of any rust or lime and apply teflon tape to the threads. This may help the new showerhead install simply, offer a good seal, and make it easier in the future if you have to replace the shower head again.
Install the New Shower – If you chose a straightforward replacement showerhead all that’s left to be done is to screw the new fixture onto the prepared pipe stem. Ensure not to over-tighten when you’re installing this – hand tight and 1 / 4 or half turn is all that you need. If you have bought a more advanced fixture like a shower massage wand you could have 1 or 2 pieces to install. Ensure that you apply teflon tape to all threaded connections ( unless otherwise stated by the maker ) to guarantee a good seal.
Test It – Before putting your tools away and jumping in the shower take a few minutes to make sure the job is done. Turn on the water and check each of the connections for leaks. If you find any, usually they will be fixed by tightening the connection another quarter or half turn. If this does not address the problem you may need to check for a missing or worn washer.
Ray Breitenbach writes for Straightforward house repairs. Please visit for more info on the simple way to perform you own basic house repairs.