A leaky shower head can go undetected for a long time and it may seem like a minor issue that does not need your attention. However, if you leave it for longer, it could become a more severe problem.
According to the report of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, a shower head leaking at 10 drips per minute wastes more than 500 gallons of water per year. And sometimes a leaky shower head could indicate a more serious problem with your plumbing systems.
Also, your water and energy bills can skyrocket without you even realizing it. And, it can even stain the interior of the shower, especially if your water supply is high in iron So, quickly fixing the shower head leaks is good for the wallet as well as the environment.
In this article, We have shared 7 quick tips on how to fix a leaky shower head so that you can solve the problem without a plumber. Because leakage in the shower head can be annoying, expensive, wasteful, and damaging. Here, we have also discussed the reason why your shower head is leaking.
So. let’s get started.
Table of Contents
Why My Shower Head Is Leaking
Several things could cause a leak in your shower head. To prevent further plumbing complications and water wastage, it is very important to fix a leaky shower head.
But, you first need to understand why it is leaking. One of the most common reasons for your leaky shower head is a worn-out washer or O-ring.
If you have an older shower, these parts may get damaged over time. Another common reason is a build-up of mineral deposits.
Because limescale and other mineral deposits from water and debris can get accumulated on shower heads. Finally, the third most common reason is incorrect installation.
Sometimes, one of your shower fittings may be loose or not connected properly. And if you have a compression faucet and the leaking persists, you may need to replace the faucet washer.
Also, you need to determine the style of the shower head to buy the correct tools and replacements for your leaky shower head.
How To Fix A Leaky Shower Head: 7 Quick Tips
Repairing a leaky showerhead is usually a quick project that would not require special tools or skills. So, here are the 7 ways how to fix a leaky shower head. Before you attempt any of the following fixes, it is always best to identify where any leaks are coming from, so that you can effectively solve the problem.
1. Clean The Shower Head And Shower Head Handle
Before trying to fix the leaks, you should clean the shower head and handle. Also, you should remove any built-up residue and minerals that may help unclog some of what is causing the issues in the shower.
However, it is not necessary to remove the shower head at this time. Generally, it is good practice to clean the shower head regularly. So, you should try to do it whenever you clean the rest of your bathroom.
For this purpose, you should choose an all-purpose bathroom cleaner that does not contain strong chemicals, as those chemicals can damage nozzles.
First, you should use the cleaner to wipe any residue from the shower head and handle it with a soft cloth. Then, you need to spray the cleaner on the shower head and scrub every part of the nozzle with a small toothbrush.
Now, just test out the shower head to see if this simple cleaning process has fixed the issue. If not, then you should follow the next steps.
2. Turn Off The Water Supply And Remove The Shower Head
You do not need to turn off the water supply to the entire house to fix most plumbing-related issues, however, showers usually don’t have their own accessible shut-off valves.
So, for those who don’t have an easily accessible shower shutoff, head to the main water supply shutoff. It is generally on the lowest floor of your house, mainly in a basement on the wall where the water meter is placed.
After that, head to a sink on the lowest level of your home and turn on the taps, so the water in the pipes above can easily drain out.
So, after ensuring that the water is turned off in the shower, you need to cover the drain hole in the shower to prevent any pieces that you will be removing from falling into that hole.
Then, you just need to remove the shower head by loosening the nut which secures it to the shower arm. However, for older showers, this step may become much harder than you are thinking.
When the shower head is stuck, then just cover the shower head with a soft cloth and use pliers to remove it. Because, without the cloth, the force of the pliers could easily damage the finish on the shower head.
3. Soak The Shower Head In Vinegar And Check For A Worn Seal
When the shower head is removed, it would be easier to find what is causing the issues. Gradually, hard water deposits can build up in the holes of the shower head.
It can restrict the spray of water and force the backed-up water out from the junction of the shower head and shower arm.
To break up or soften the hard water mineral deposits, soak the shower head overnight in white vinegar. And, then scrub away any remaining residue with a used toothbrush.
However, if you have noticed that the shower handle is leaking water, then the problem may lie in the seal between the shower arm and the shower head.
Washers and O-rings generally form watertight seals between the connections on a shower head. But, they can harden or split over time, which will allow water to leak out from the shower head.
So, if there is a worn seal, then you should remove and disassemble the shower head to replace the washer or O-ring.
4. Replace The Faucet Washer If The Leaking Persists
If you have noticed that your shower faucet is leaking, then the problem can be a worn washer assembly within the faucet. Compression faucets generally have two handles- one hot and the other cold.
The washer in a compression-style faucet can become worn over time, which can cause leaks if not replaced.
So, first, you need to determine which handle (hot or cold) is causing the leak by feeling the temperature of the dripping water. Then, just remove the faulty faucet handle, which is held in place with a screw located below the handle.
After that, slip off the cover trim to gain access to the faucet stem secured with a hex nut. You can use a deep socket wrench to remove the nut and then you should find a rubber washer. Now, you need to replace it with a new rubber washer and reassemble the faucet.
However, sometimes, the small curved area behind the washer can become so damaged that even a new washer won’t seal tightly enough to prevent the leaking of water from the shower head.
In that case, you will probably need the help of a plumber to replace the entire assembly.
5. Replace The Worn Shower Cartridge
In most new showers, you will find that a single handle regulates the flow of both hot and cold water. In the wall behind the handle, there is actually a valve body containing a cylindrical cartridge which is made of hard plastic.
If the cartridge becomes worn, water can leak even when the handle is in the “off” position. So, if you want to replace the worn cartridge, you will need to turn off the water supply to the shower.
Then, you can access the shower cartridge by removing the shower handle and taking off the shower valve trim and the cap that covers the valve body stem.
After that, just slip off the stem cover to reveal the end of the plastic cartridge. Most cartridges are generally secured with a twist-on nut or a clip.
Now, you should first remove the nut or the clip and use a pair of pliers to grasp the stem of the cartridge, and then pull the cartridge out.
You need to take the worn cartridge to the hardware store to get an exact match. Then, just install the new cartridge and reassemble the faucet.
However, if replacing the worn cartridge does not solve your issues, then probably the valve body is damaged and you will need the help of a plumber to replace a valve body.
6. Wrap New Plumber’s Tape Around The Shower Arm
The Teflon plumber’s tape which is wrapped around the shower arm can deteriorate over time. So, it can also cause the water to leak.
However, even if you have not noticed a leak in the shower arm, it is definitely a good idea to replace the tape when the shower head is disassembled.
So, you should first remove the existing Teflon tape from the pipe stem. Usually, it is easier to slowly peel it away and it will still have some sticky residue on the surface.
If there is any residue left behind on the surface, you can use an old toothbrush to remove it. Finally, slowly wrap the new plumber’s tape around the threaded tip of the pipe stem.
This will help to form a protective seal and also prevent any threads from seizing. If you are facing any kind of problem in this step, you can take the help of professionals.
7. Replace The Old Shower Head With A New One
If your leaky shower head can’t be fixed by any of these steps described above, then you might want to replace the old shower head with a new one.
Replacing a shower head is a project that most homeowners can successfully accomplish and if the new shower head matches the current pipe, then the job becomes even easier.
However, if there is an issue with the shower arm and it doesn’t match the finish of the new shower head, then you may first need to replace the shower arm.
So, first, you should unscrew the old shower arm and then wrap the threads of the new shower arm a few times with the plumber’s tape.
Now, you need to screw the new shower arm into the wall fitting and seal the opening with the plumber’s putty. Then, just slide the matching shower flange over the arm and into the putty to seal it.
After that, you should use the plumber’s tape to wrap the shower arm’s base threads and then attach the new shower head to the shower arm. Finally, turn until it is tight, but don’t overtighten it.
Wrap Up On How To Fix A Leaky Shower Head
All shower plumbing generally works in a similar manner, however, faucets, shower heads, and valve body assemblies vary in the ways they connect.
And when you need to purchase a new plumbing seal, you should take the old one with you to the hardware store to make sure that you bring home an exact match.
However, you may be interested in carrying out this work yourself, but it can often be more complicated than you think if you have limited experience.
That is why, if you are not completely confident of your own abilities, we would recommend you hire a professional to avoid any risks.
I hope you found our detailed guide informative and helpful. And when you are in doubt about any of these steps, you can follow the manufacturers’ manuals which are found on their websites.
Also, if you have any questions related to this topic, please let us know in the comments below.
FAQ: How To Fix A Leaky Shower Head
As many people around the world are facing this issue, they have lots of questions regarding this topic in their minds. Here I have given answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.
Q1. Is It Bad If The Shower Head Leaks?
Ans: It is really important not to ignore a leaky shower head, because even if the leak is small, over time it can build up and you will waste a lot of water as well as money. And the drips can also leave stains in the shower base in your bathroom.
Q2. How Much Does It Cost To Fix A Leaky Shower Head?
Ans: Shower heads may get damaged, clogged with mineral buildups, and also start to leak. Homeowners generally pay between $50 and $150 for professional shower head repairs to fix leaky shower heads.
Q3. What Is The Most Common Problem With Shower Heads?
Ans: The most common problem is a build-up of calcium or lime scale. These mineral deposits build up gradually and accumulate on shower heads. This often blocks the water coming from the shower head and causes lower water pressure or even an entire stoppage of water altogether.