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How To Install a New Shower Head Properly

Quick Step-by-Step Guide

Let’s face it – taking on a home reno, big or small, usually always takes longer than expected and leads to unwanted work. However, when done properly, installing a new shower head in your bath or shower is a task anyone can take on, can be done quickly and easily, and makes a huge difference to both your experience in the shower and the aesthetic of your bathroom. 

Before going over how to install a new shower head, it’s important to be prepared and have all the tools you need for the job. Don’t skip out on any of these because like I said, if done properly, installing a shower head can be very easy. But without the proper tools and equipment, it’ll quickly become a hassle. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

Step One 

Before you get too excited and grab that pipe wrench, take a quick look at your existing showerhead and shower arm – this is the angled pipe that comes out of the wall and attaches to the shower head. Does it have any corrosion or mildew around it? Is it beginning to rust or looked aged and out-of-date? Does it match with the new shower head you plan on installing? All of these questions are important to think about before installing the new shower head

Some new shower heads come with a shower arm, but it yours doesn’t, then you’ll want to make sure you want to keep your existing shower arm before installing the head. If you do want to keep it, great! You can move on to the next step. If you don’t want to keep it and your newly purchased shower head didn’t come with an arm, then you’ll need to buy one before moving on. Don’t worry though – shower arms are pretty easy to find. We’ve listed a few option below to make things easier for you:

Step Two*

*If you’ve decided to keep your existing shower arm, then you can skip this step!

If you’ve decided you need to replace your existing shower arm, then that’s the first thing we’ll need to do before moving on to the shower head. To remove the current shower arm, simply take your pipe wrench and unscrew the back of the shower arm from the wall. Depending on the age of your shower arm, sometimes they can become rusted or gather mildew, which makes them difficult to uninstall.

If this is the case, a quick trick to make this easier is rub some white vinegar onto the arm which should help remove the mildew or rust. Or if you have it, CLR is always a good alternative. 

Once you’ve removed the old shower arm and the old shower head, you can install your new one. To install your new shower arm, start by taking your teflon tape and wrapping its threads, two to three times over, with your thread seal tape. Make sure to tightly wrap the thread seal (and stretch if needed) as you apply it. Then, carefully turn the pipe into the wall fitting, and seal the wall opening with plumber’s putty. Slide the shower flange over the arm and press it into the putty. If there’s any excess putty, wipe it away and clean up the surface so it’s neatly installed. 

Step Three

Now that you’ve installed your shower arm, it’s time to put in your shiny new shower head. Installing any shower head is fairly simple, however the installation process will vary depending on the type and brand of shower head you’ve purchased. Below we’ll go over each type and how to properly install it. 

Attaches directly to the arm

If your shower head is the type that attaches directly to the arm, then first use the teflon tape to wrap the threads on the base of the shower arm. Then turn the shower head in a clockwise direction (remember: righty tighty!) until it’s in position, making sure to not tighten it too much. Over-tightening can lead to damage. Feel free to use your wrench when performing this step, but be sure to not squeeze too hard in order to protect the finish on the fitting. You can use a piece of cloth or tape to avoid this. 

Handheld shower head

If you’ve purchase a handheld shower head, then chances are you won’t need any thread seal tape added to the base of the shower arm. However, just to be safe, check the manual or instructions with your shower head. To install a handheld shower head, simply thread the handheld head onto your shower arm. Again, make sure to not over-tighten. Once you’re done, just attach the shower hose and you should be good to go!

As a final step, run your shower faucet for a few minutes to ensure there are no leaks and the water pressure is adequate.

Quick Tips For Purchasing & Installing Shower Heads

  • When considering purchasing a shower head, remember that a handheld showerhead is more practical than a fixed showerhead. They’re easier to use and a lot more convenient when cleaning yourself up. 
  • If you’re an environmentally-friendly person (which we all should be!), then consider a low flow shower head to save both energy and water. A lot of new shower heads come with a low flow option, so when and if you do need that extra pressure, you can still get it!
  • A lot of brands these days are developing plastic shower heads in order to reduce costs for the consumer. However, be cautious when purchasing plastic heads, as they can break easily. Look for chrome or brass finishes for best and long-lasting results. 
  • Don’t just spring for the first one you see! Check your local stores and online for multiple options – a shower head won’t be the biggest purchase you make for your home, but it is an important one. You and your housemates use the shower everyday (or at least I hope you do), so make sure to get something that is suited to your needs and fits your budget. You can find some a list of our top waterfall shower heads here!
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