A fresh morning shower – this is, maybe, the most enjoyable part of our daily routine. It makes sense that you might want to ensure that this experience is as pleasant and comfortable as possible. A small upgrade to your bathroom can make a big difference. One of the simplest ways is to install new fixtures or to change the shower head.

Generally, shower heads last for years, but their appearance can become worn and dated. The main reasons you might have to consider, regarding whether it’s time to change it are:

  • You want to increase the shower pressure. Accumulated deposits from hard water over time decrease the volume and flow of water.
  • The shower just drizzles slowly, due to sediment buildup, or even mould.
  • You want to save water and money on bills. New innovative designs can reduce the amount of water used and still deliver a great shower.

So, if you don’t know how to change a shower head, read on to get all the information you need.

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Can cleaning your shower head fix the problem?

Mineral deposits and organic matter build up over time and can clog the holes, preventing an even water flow. If the residues are old, cleaning the holes most likely won’t help, but it’s definitely worth a try. Cleaning the shower head is not only crucial for better performance, but for sanitary reasons, too.

Pour some vinegar into a plastic bag and tie it to the shower head for at least 15 to 20 minutes. This method is quite simple and used when you don’t want to remove your shower head completely. For extra cleaning power, add a few tablespoons of baking soda in the mixture before soaking.

Check also: How to Clean a Shower Curtain

How to change a shower head?

This task is one of the most simple DIY plumbing jobs you can do in your home and can be easily done by anyone like other home improvement tasks. It doesn’t require any technical expertise to perform.

Changing the shower head is a great way to improve your water’s purity and flow and refresh your bathroom space. There is a wide variety of styles and finishes. It’s easy to select a model that brings your bathroom to life and makes you feel like you’re stepping into a spa centre.

Australian government initiated free shower head exchange programs in some cities and regions.

What tools do you need to change a shower head?

Let’s start by choosing your new shower head. There are three common types: fixed, handheld, and combo. All have a universal thread size in Australia, designated as ½” BSP. That means you shouldn’t have to worry about fitting it onto your shower elbow or hose.

Anyway, if you aren’t sure, you could always bring your current shower head with you to the store. Another way is to take pictures of your shower for additional reference.

So, what you’ll need to do the job:

  • Shower head replacement
  • Soft jaw pliers or a soft cloth
  • Wire brush, toothbrush, or damp paper towel
  • Step stool or ladder
  • Adjustable wrench with channel locks
  • Thread-sealing tape, also called Teflon tape

Make sure the shower is completely turned off

Do not remove the existing shower head with the tap turned on. Water will shoot everywhere, so make sure it’s off. It’s not necessary to turn off the water to the whole place.

Unscrew the shower head

Turn the shower head counter-clockwise to remove it. If it’s decades old, it could be eroded, and you will need to use a wrench to get it off.

If it’s a wall-fixed one, be careful not to turn the pipe in the wall. If necessary, hold the connecting pipe with the soft-jaw pliers or a soft cloth, while turning the shower head by hand. If you can’t, try with the adjustable wrench. Check for a bit of a diamond-cut etched strip. That is designed to help the pliers grip the otherwise smooth surface.

Take a small cloth or towel and wrap it around the connecting nut before you loosen it.

tip

Use a soft cloth under the adjustable wrench to keep the chrome from being scratched.

Clean the thread

Once you remove the old shower head, you may find gunk around the threaded end of the extension pipe coming through the wall. Use the wire brush, old toothbrush, or damp paper towel to clean the threads. Make sure the thread is clean and free of debris before the next step.

Apply the thread-sealing tape

It’s not uncommon to experience leaks when you connect metal threaded elements. The thread-sealing tape acts as an additional buffer against that.
Wrap the tape around the whole thread and go around clockwise. Each new layer should cover part of the previous layer. This technique prevents the threads from unravelling the tape as you tighten them.

Squeeze the tape over to smooth it into the threads.

Fix the replacement shower head in place

After taping, you’re ready to install the replacement shower head. This step will also vary depending on the product you’re installing, so read the product’s instructions.
Hand-screw it clockwise onto the threads. When it is secure, tighten it a quarter turn. If it’s necessary, use the adjustable wrench with a cloth to tighten the shower head. Be careful. The shower head should feel a little more than snug. Any more than that you risk damaging the threads.

Turn the tap on and look for water leaks

Once you’ve installed your shower head, you will want to make sure there are no leaks before putting the tools away.

Angle the shower head toward a wall away from you and turn the water on. Look for any leaking water from any of the connections. They should all have thread-sealing tape, and probably won’t be leaking.

But if there is a leak, turn the water off again and try to tighten that joint a little. Repeat the test and if your shower head is still leaking, completely reconnect it. Make sure to remove the old tape and apply new before putting everything back together.

Check also if the rubber seal is lining up correctly or if it appears damaged.

Related: How to Stop a Toilet from Running

Need help? Call a professional handyman!

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How often should you change your shower head?

As a general rule of thumb: if you can’t clean your shower head or it’s too hard to clean up, toss it. Especially if you have hard water, it can be tough to maintain, and it won’t last forever.

Many people don’t realise it, but shower heads should be appropriately cleaned or replaced every 6 to 8 months.

Check also: 5 Simple Ways to Unblock a Toilet Without a Plunger

Takeaways:

  • Changing your shower head can increase water pressure.
  • Modern shower heads can save water, money on bills and still deliver a great shower.
  • Get the necessary tools before you begin with the job.
  • Clean the shower head regularly for better performance and sanitary reasons.
  • Consider calling a professional if you are not sure you can handle it.

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  • Last update: March 18, 2021

Posted in All Articles, Home Improvement