If you want to upgrade your shower, a new shower head is a fast and simple project that is easy to DIY. You may also want to upgrade from your old wall-mounted shower head to a more versatile, handheld design. Handheld shower heads make showering more efficient by allowing you to direct the flow of your shower exactly where you want it, and they aren't much more difficult to install. If you are looking to replace or upgrade your shower head, here is the best way to do it.
In order to install a new shower head, you will need:
Your new shower head
A blanket, tarp, or towel
A pair of slip-joint pliers
An adjustable channel wrench
A gentle scrubbing brush
A rag or cloth
You may also need a lubricating catalyst spray if your old shower head has a lot of buildup.
Depending on your height and your shower, this job may also be easier with a short stepladder to give you improved access and visibility.
To Install a New Shower Head, Follow These Steps
Turn off the water in the shower. You don't need to shut off the water supply, just turn the knobs off tightly to prevent leaks.
Open the shower valve to allow any remaining water to drip out of the shower head.
Lay a blanket, tarp, or towel in the floor of the shower, covering the drain. This will prevent any dropped parts from going down the drain, and also protect the surface of your shower from damage in case you accidentally drop tools.
Wrap your shower pipe in cloth and secure it in place with a channel lock wrench. This will prevent it from turning when you unscrew the shower head.
In most cases, the old shower head will simply unscrew, and using the wrench on the pipe will give you extra leverage. If the old shower head is difficult to unscrew, you may need to use lubricating spray or a second pair of pliers to break the seal and remove it.
Once the old shower head is removed, use a brush to clean the pipe threads of any old Teflon tape or sealants.
While you are up there, it's a good idea to use a flashlight to inspect the pipe and ensure that it is in good condition and free of debris or blockage.
If your shower head pipe is old, it may be damaged or simply look dingy and unattractive, so you may want to replace the shower head arm and escutcheon while changing your shower head.
To replace the arm and escutcheon, the shower arm can simply be unscrewed from the wall. As with the shower head, you may need to use a channel wrench to break the seal. You also may need to use a putty knife to break the seal and remove the escutcheon.
If you are replacing the arm, it is easier to use Teflon tape on the threads and secure the shower head to the arm first, then reattach the joined shower head and arm to the pipe in the wall at the same time. Attaching the head to the arm first gives you time to make sure the shower head is threaded correctly, because you have a better angle for manipulating it. Otherwise, you can simply replace the arm in the wall and follow the rest of the instructions below.
Wrap the threads of your shower pipe in new Teflon tape.
Screw in your new shower head by hand, making sure that it is threaded correctly.
When your new shower head is hand-tight, use the channel wrench for another quarter turn for additional security. You may want to wrap a cloth around the shower head before using the wrench, to protect the finish from tool marks.
Turn on the water and direct it through your new shower head, checking for any leaks. If you have a leak, use the channel wrench to add another quarter turn and tighten further. Keep tightening by quarter turns until there are no leaks.
To install a handheld shower head is only slightly more complex than installing a fixed shower head. Follow steps 1-6 above to remove your old shower head. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on the new handheld shower head to install it correctly.
Because of the additional hose connections, there are a couple more places that a new handheld shower head may leak. As above, check carefully for leaks, and tighten by quarter-turns until they are sealed.
A new shower head is an inexpensive investment and a quick job that has some surprising benefits. While the average shower only lasts 8 minutes, a good shower can make a huge difference in your mood and confidence, while a bad shower can be an ongoing annoyance.
It's also surprisingly affordable to get some big shower upgrades, like a shower head with colorful LED lights, massaging functions, or even a Bluetooth speaker so you can seamlessly enjoy your favorite music and podcasts, catch up on the news, or even take calls while you shower.
Replacing a shower head is a fast and simple job, requiring only the tools that most people already have, and it's friendly for renters as well as improving property value for home owners. The job can take less than 5 minutes, and pay off in better showers every day for years to come.