Here’s what you need:
- Your new shower fixture
- Plumber’s tape
- Groove-joint pliers
- Adjustable wrench
- Wire brush
- Penetrating oil (like WD-40 or Mouse Milk)
- Some clean rags
- Make sure the faucets are turned off
1. Remove your old showerhead.
Always be careful when using tools on your existing plumbing. If you aren’t careful, you could bend, scratch or crush important fixtures and pipes.
To get your old showerhead of the pipe-stem coming out of the wall safely, use the rags with your tools so they don’t come in direct contact with the fixtures. Place your jointed pliers securely on the shower spout (that’s the pipe sticking out of the wall). Then take your adjustable wrench and finger-tighten it around the base of the showerhead, carefully rotating it counter-clockwise.
Old showerheads can be stuck on pretty good sometimes, so you may have to apply some pressure. Just try not to bend or crush the pipe in the process. Once you’ve loosened it, you can probably ditch the tools and remove it by hand the rest of the way.
Note: If the pipe threads on the showerhead spout are really rusty or otherwise stuck, just spray WD-40 or other penetrating oil around onto the exposed threads. Wait a few minutes and see whether it doesn’t loosen up.
2. Inspect and clean the pipe.
Setting aside the old fixture, you’ll want to prepare the spout for the new showerhead. Use one of your rags to wipe clean both the pipe and the threads on the end.
If they have a lot of rust or other corrosion on them, a couple of strokes from the wire brush should clean those threads up. If the pipe is really corroded, though, and the showerhead leaks excessively after you install it, you might need to replace the spout.
3. Apply plumber’s tape to the threads.
Plumber’s tape (or Teflon tape) is used to help fill gaps between the threads on your pipe and those in your showerhead fixture to prevent drips and leaks. You don’t need a lot, just a few inches, to wrap tightly over the threads on the spout.
Attach any extension or diverter (which diverts water to a hose-fed attachment on some fixtures) to the spout if your fixture has one. If you’re using a shower head like this, you may need to apply plumber’s tape to the threads on the opposite end of the diverter which connects to the actual showerhead itself.
Screw on the showerhead, hand-tightening it the best you can. You probably don’t need to tighten it with the tools; it should be water-tight without that. If you do use tools, don’t over-tighten; it just needs to be secure.
4. Test the new fixture.
Turn on the water and watch for any drips or leaks around the base of the showerhead. If you see or feel any water, you might need to tighten the head more or take it off and apply more tape to the threads. Otherwise, your new showerhead is installed and ready to use!
When she isn’t showing off her DIY knowledge to help friends out, Amanda Peters is working on projects around her house and writing on topics ranging from home style and décor to do-it-yourself repairs and plumbing advice.