How to Change a Shower Head – Step by Step Replacement Guide

How to Change a Shower Head Step By Step Replacement Guide

There will come a time when your shower head needs to be changed, and it might seem like a Herculean task, but it can actually be pretty simple.

As with any task like this, you do need to make sure you know what you are doing if you want to get things right, and that’s where we come in to lend you a helping hand.

This guide doesn’t just give you the steps you need to take in order to change your shower head; it also answers all of the important questions that you might have about the process. Gather your tools and get ready to replace your shower head quickly and efficiently. 

Do You Have to Turn the Water Off to Change a Shower Head? 

The short answer is no; you don’t need to turn your water off in order to change the shower head. As long as you have the shower turned off, you don’t have to worry as no water will be able to get through.

If you want to be extra safe with an electric shower, you can switch it off at the socket or fuse box – however, even with these you don’t need to have the mains water turned off, and you don’t need to worry about the power as long as the shower is in the “off” position. 

How Do You Get an Old Shower Head Off? 

The steps to getting an old shower head off are actually really simple, and you don’t necessarily need any tools to do it. We have a couple of methods for you to try, so take a look and see which one works best for you. 

#1 No Tools 

First, grip the shower head (or the connecting nut), and then turn it anticlockwise in order to unscrew it. You might need to use a little force if it is really tight. If this is the case, you can try to use both hands to unscrew it for some extra strength. 

#2 With a Wrench

What you will need:

  • A wrench
  • A clean cloth

Take the cloth and place it over the wrench, as this will act as a barrier between the tool and the shower to prevent scratching and damage. Next, get it around the connecting nut and prepare to unscrew it. Make sure the wrench is tightened, and use gentle force while turning the nut anticlockwise. 

Is There a Shut-Off Valve for a Shower? 

This really does depend on the type of shower you have, as well as the plumbing in your home. Some will have a valve, and some won’t, but this section will help you to locate both. Of course, it should be noted that this may not be the same for every home, and instead consists of the most common locations.

How Do You Get an Old Shower Head Off? 

#1 The Shower Valve 

Unless you have one installed yourself, you will often find that the valve for the shower is behind a wall and inaccessible to you. This is because the plumbing code does not state that a valve is needed for showers and baths, and so on the rare occasion that there is one, you will find it hard to get to without taking some wall out.

However, if you do have a valve for the shower behind the wall, you can always create a panel there instead. This means it can be opened when needed so that you can shut the water off.

It is rare that you will need the water to your shower to be turned off, but if this happens and you don’t have a separate one for the shower, you will have to use the mains one (see the next part).

#2 The Mains Water Valve 

Generally speaking, you will find the mains water valve is pretty close to the water metre, as this is where it is usually installed. There are a number of locations where it could be including:

  • The basement (if you have one)
  • The outside wall
  • The utility room 
  • The kitchen

These are just examples of the most common places for the water mains to be installed, and yours could be somewhere else entirely.

If you live in an apartment building, then it may even be one that connects to the whole place, and you will need to contact the building owner. To turn the valve off, rotate it clockwise, and then test it by letting a tap run until it stops – that’s when you know it’s off.

How Do You Remove a Stubborn Shower Head?

What about the really stubborn shower heads though? It often happens that old shower heads can get stuck, and therefore are really hard to get off. We have the solution for you, and all you will need are these simple tools:

  • Strap wrench
  • Pipe wrench (just in case)
  • A clean cloth
  • White vinegar in a spray bottle

Step 1: Vinegar 

Take the vinegar in the spray bottle and apply it to the base of the head where it has become stuck. Vinegar is the perfect way to break down deposits and really help to loosen things up. If this doesn’t work, take a cloth and absolutely saturate it in pure white vinegar, wrap it around the base of the head, and leave it overnight.

Step 2: Removal

Get the strap wrench and wrap the strap around the base of the shower head before tightening it. With gentle force, twist it in a clockwise direction to loosen it. Repeat until the shower head screws off.

Step 3: Pipe Wrench

If the stray wrench doesn’t work, you are going to need a good pipe wrench. It will give you extra leverage, and it is very unlikely that your shower head will be able to resist this level of force.

It should unscrew nicely, leaving it ready for the new head. However, it is possible that the arm will come off as well if you use too much force, in which case you will need the next section.

How to Change a Shower Head Arm?

The arm can seem a little daunting at first, especially as it often looks like it will be complicated to remove. However, if you find yourself needing to switch it out for a new one, you might be surprised to learn that it isn’t as difficult as it seems, and we have some easy steps for you to follow.

What you will need: 

  • Two or three clean cloths
  • Adjustable pipe wrench 
  • Vinegar or cleaning products 
  • WD-40
  • Plumbers tape 
  • Your new shower arm 

Step 1: Cleaning and Inspecting 

The reason it is important to clean the shower arm before you remove it is because it may have a lot of deposits and grime that is actually causing it to stick, and therefore making difficult to remove.

Take some vinegar, or your chose cleaning products, and a clean cloth and use it to scrub the shower arm so that it is nice and clean. You should also check the tile around the shower arm for cracks and leaks before you remove it.

Much of the time, it is advised that you replace the surrounding tiles after the new arm has been installed to prevent any weaknesses from worsening and letting water in. Once this is done, turn the water off before you start the next step.

Further Reading: Best Rainfall Shower Heads

Step 2: Removal

Clamp your pipe wrench around the arm and tighten it as much as possible, making sure to gain the best possible leverage while doing so.

You should ensure that it is just above the tiles so as to avoid cracking or smashing any as you turn the wrench. If it’s too tough, soak it in the WD-40 for a couple of hours and then try again. Repeat the process until it is loose enough for removal.

Step 3: Installation

Now that the old arm is out, you can install the new one, but before you do there is one little task. At the base of the arm, where it connects to the pipe, there is threading.

Take some plumbers tape and line the threading with it for a really waterproof seal. Once that is done, connect it to the pipe by twisting it in clockwise. Make sure the fit is a tight one.

Step 4: Testing and Tweaking 

The last thing to do is test the water, so turn it back on and then go back up to your shower and do the same. If there are any leaks, you can tweak it by turning the shower head and arm a little more clockwise in order to tighten things up.

Once everything is flowing smoothly, you can pat yourself on the back for a job well done and go enjoy a cup of tea.

Shower Head Costs 

The price for a new shower head varies massively, because it all depends on what you want. The brand can play a big part in how much it is going to cost, as well as the number of settings available, whether it is a handheld or a mounted model, and the material that is it made of.

As a result, you could end up spending less than £10 or over £1,000. If you are struggling to find a shower head that fits in with your budget, we actually have a few handy guides to help you out.

Shower Head Types 

There are two main types of shower head – the handheld ones and the mounted models. The handheld forms are the most versatile because the hose they are attached to is flexible so that you can move around freely and position it in any way you need.

They usually slot into a little holder attached to the shower wall, allowing you to either stand under it or take it in your hands. The mounted models offer less flexibility, but they often look a lot smarter and have wider heads. So, if you fancy a rainfall shower that covers your entire body, you’ll want to go for a mounted one.

They can be attached to the wall or the ceiling, and they either come with an arm so that you have some level of adjustment available, or directly attached to the wall/ceiling for a tight and secure fixture.

Just make sure that you check your water pressure in your home is compatible with your shower before you make the purchase (and that applies to any and every shower head type).

Also Read: Best High Pressure Shower Heads

Tools You Will Need/Items Needed to Change a Shower Head 

Before you get started, there are a few things you are going to need. The best way to approach tasks like this is to be completely organised before you start, so make sure you take note of our extensive list below and get everything that’s on it:

  • A thick towel 
  • Three clean cloths 
  • An old toothbrush 
  • An adjustable wrench 
  • Slip-joint pliers 
  • Plumbers tape 
  • WD-40 or a white vinegar solution in a spray bottle 
  • The new shower head 

Steps to Change a Shower Head

This is where we gather everything that we have learned so far (and more) together for the ultimate guide to removing your shower head and putting a new one on. Follow these steps, and you will be enjoying a steamy and relaxing shower in no time at all.

Step 1: Preparation

Once you have all of your tools gathered up, make sure the shower is turned off. Unless you are changing the arm as well, there is no need to switch it off at the valve as changing the head is a much simpler, and less intrusive task. Just make sure all the knobs are tightly turned off.

Once that is done, place a towel on the floor of the shower (or bath) to prevent any debris from falling down the drain. You can even put a few strips of tape over the drain to be extra careful. Debris in your drain can end up causing severe blockages that cost quite a lot to fix, so it is better to be safe than sorry.

Step 2: Removing the Shower Head 

If you have a handheld shower, this is usually the easiest to remove as it should simply twist off the hose. Shower heads that are attached to arms can also be easy, and they may only require you to use one hand to twist it off its perch.

If this is the case for you, you can move onto the next step, but for tougher removals, we have a solution. First, wrap a cloth around the shower head and then take the wrench. Use this to gently twist the shower head with some extra force so that it can be removed from the arm.

The cloth means that you won’t damage the arm, and can also provide you with a bit of extra grip while you are removing the head. If it’s really stuck, use this method combined with the tips below.

Previous sections have mentioned these tips, but we are going to put them here for you as well. Really tight and stubborn heads may need a bit of coaxing, and are often stuck due to a build-up of debris (on handheld and mounted showers alike). 

Spray the joint between the head and the arm with either white vinegar or WD-40. Leave it for two hours and then try again. You can repeat it until it works, or soak the entire thing in white vinegar overnight for some serious power.

Step 3: Cleaning the Shower Arm/Hose 

It’s really important to clean the end of the arm or hose, because you don’t want any debris from the previous head to make the new one stick or even block it. You can take a clean cloth and wipe the threads of the arm clean, or grab an old toothbrush to really give the area a scrub.

The threads are little ridges on the end of the hose, and they can be either inside or outside depending on the kind of shower head you have. They are easy to recognise, and very quick to clean, so make sure you follow this step.

Step 4: Taping the Threads 

This is an essential part of the process because it helps to create a solid waterproof seal for while the shower is running, but it also ensures a snug fit when it is attached to the arm.

You should apply two or three turns of plumbing tape to the threads on the shower arm, and make sure that the threads are nicely embedded in the tape. You should also wrap the tape clockwise so that it doesn’t come undone when you attach the new shower head. Might sound odd, but it’s also very true.

Step 5: Attaching the New Shower Head 

Now you are ready to attach your new shower head and get it ready for action. Screw the new shower head on clockwise and make sure you get it as tight as you can with your hand. Once this is done, use a cloth to wrap the base of the shower head and the arm, using the pliers to keep them (and the shower arm) secure and in place.

Next, clamp onto the cloth with the adjustable wrench and use it to really tighten the head and make sure that it is on securely. If you use a handheld shower, you will need to follow the same procedure, but it is unlikely that you will need to use the cloth and wrench to get it all together.

Step 6: Testing the Results 

Finally, you get to test the results. Turn the water for your shower on and watch it fall to make sure that the shower head is working properly and in the right position.

It also means that you can check for any leaks between the base of the head and the arm, and if there are some, you can use the previous step to further tighten them. Once it’s all done, step under the water and enjoy the fruit of your labour.

How often should you change your shower head?

When To Get A New Shower Head. Many people don't realize it, but shower heads should actually be replaced every 6 to 8 months. That's up to two times each year! Most people neglect to do this, of course, but the reasons for keeping up with the replacements are more important than you might expect

To Conclude

We hope that this extensive guide has not only shown you how to change your shower head, but also answered any questions you have about the process. Once you know what you are doing, it’s really not that hard.

It doesn’t matter if you have a mounted or handheld shower head, we have just the thing to get it off safely, without damaging anything, and ensuring the new one is installed correctly – as well as letting you know which tools you are going to need.

The best part is that a new shower head won’t always cost a fortune either, and you can find plenty of them at a fantastic budget price.

What did you think of our shower head replacement guide? Did we teach you how to replace a shower head, or are there areas where we fell short? We love hearing from you, so feel free to leave a message in the comments below.

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