How to change a shower head


Whether you are a renter or a new homeowner, moving into a new place often means getting used to whatever junky shower head was there when you arrived.  I have lived in some apartments with showers that seem to deliver just the right amount of water pressure, while in other places, I’ve suffered through morning after morning of showers that leave a lot to be desired.

When I moved into my current townhouse, I was excited to experience the widely touted rain shower head.  Within seconds of my first shower, I knew this relationship wasn’t going to work.  While as an advertising gimmick, the rain shower head sounded great, whatever genius was in charge of planning the showers for these homes was off his A-game.  The shower head was wall-mounted so instead of the “rain” falling straight down gently and soothingly as intended, the poor showerhead could barely force enough water pressure to sustain a dribble due to the angle it exited the wall.  So much for my soothing shower experience.  I could barely rinse my inch-long hair.  My girl had a much more difficult time with her longer locks.

So off to the home improvement store I went in search of a showerhead that promised more pressure.  After spending several minutes debating two shower heads with very similar characteristics, I chose one with multiple settings and headed home to get handy.  Take some time to decide what you are looking for in your new shower head.  Do you want lots of settings? A wand and hose style?  Water pressure the fire department would be proud of?  Once you have chosen a showerhead, you are ready to get handy.

Supplies needed

  • Locking pliers or “vice-grips”
  • New shower head
  • Plumbing tape

The process

1. Remove the old showerhead. Out with the old before you can install the new.  Remove the existing showerhead by placing the teeth of the pliers on the collar of the showerhead.  This is the part of the showerhead that connects it to the pipe coming out of the wall.  Remember “lefty-loosey, righty-tighty.”  Once the pliers are locked on, turn so they are moving to the left or counterclockwise.  Once you have the old shower head off, place it aside.  If you’re renting, put the showerhead in a bag under the sink so you can reinstall it when you move out.

2. Wipe off the threads. Take a rag and wipe off the end of the pipe where you’ve just removed the old showerhead.  Make sure the grooves don’t have any old gunk left.

3.  Apply the plumbing tape.  Take the end of the plumbing tape and apply it so that the bottom edge does not hang over the end of the pipe.  You want to apply the tape in the same direction that you will screw on the new shower head.  This means you want to be going clockwise as you work the tape around the pipe.  The goal here is to cover the grooves with the tape.  Make at least three full circuits with the tape, being sure to cover the full width of the grooves.  The plumbing tape will ensure a good seal between the showerhead and the pipe.

4.  Install the new shower head.  Now you are ready to put the new shower head on.  Start by lining up the shower head’s collar with the pipe so the grooves line up.  Supporting the showerhead with your non-dominant hand, use your other hand to begin screwing the collar onto the pipe.  Once you have it connected loosely, lock your pliers onto the collar and begin the clockwise motion to secure it to the pipe.  To finish you want to make sure it is as tight as possible without doing any damage.  Once you feel resistance from the collar as it gets tight, give it another half to full turn.

Congratulations!  You’ve just turned your crappy shower into something you can look forward to every day!

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