How to Stop a Leaky Shower Head

Written by darcy logan | 13/05/2017
How to Stop a Leaky Shower Head
Leaky shower heads can be a headache until you fix them. (Lee Jordan)

A leaky shower head is not only annoying, but it can lead to higher water bills. Fixing the problem involves doing a little detective work to figure out the cause and then replacing any parts that might be worn out. If you've never done any plumbing, repairing your shower head is a great place to start. Plus, it will give you the skills you need to replace the shower head in case you are unable to fix it.

Remove the shower head with your wrench. You can protect your shower head by covering the jaws of your pliers with masking or duct tape. If you're having trouble removing your shower head, see "Additional Resources," below, for more information.

Soak your shower head in vinegar to remove mineral deposits. Although this is probably not the cause of the leak, mineral deposits can affect the flow of your shower. Since it is removed anyway, you might as well get it clean (unless you plan on replacing it).

Inspect the gasket (sometimes referred to as an O-ring) in your shower head. The gasket is a black rubber ring that sits between your shower head and the shower arm. Replace the O-ring if it is brittle, cracked or oozing black goo. Take the ring with you to your local hardware store to ensure you get the right size (but wait until you complete Step 4).

Remove the swivel-ball ring from the shower head. You may need to use a wrench to do this. Inspect the O-ring, a metal ring or similar object. If it appears damaged or if you know water has been leaking from the swivel ball, replace it. Take the ring with you to your local hardware store to ensure you get the right size.

Rinse off your shower head with water. Remove any remaining mineral deposits using a brush and additional vinegar. Use a straight pin to remove any deposits in the holes in the shower head.

Clean the threads on the pipe where the shower head connects. Remove any bits of tape that might be remaining as well as any hard water or lime deposits.

Wrap the pipe threads with plumber's tape or Teflon tape in the same direction as the threads run (usually clockwise). Tape should cover the threads completely, but still allow you to see them.

Reattach your shower head to the pipe.

Test your shower. If it is still leaking, try tightening it with your wrench. Do not over-tighten.

Test your shower again. If it is still leaking, remove the shower head and apply another layer of plumber's tape or Teflon tape and reattach.

Test again. If your shower head is still leaking, you need to replace the shower head or call a plumber.

Things you need

  • Masking tape or duct tape
  • Adjustable end (crescent) wrench or vice grips
  • Plumbers or Teflon tape
  • Gasket
  • O-ring
  • Vinegar
  • Straight pin
  • Scrub brush

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