DIY How to Fix a Shower

Updated February 21, 2017

Leaky faucets, leaky shower heads and clogged drains are common shower problems that develop over time. These are usually caused by a single worn piece; replacing these worn pieces saves you from replacing the entire shower and prevents further damage. In addition to wasting and discolouring water, leaky showers and clogged shower drains may damage bathroom walls and floors, which further adds to the repair cost. Shower repair parts and repair kits can be purchased at most home improvement and plumbing supply stores. Homeowners with plumbing knowledge may choose to do the repairs themselves.

Remove the access panel behind the shower faucet wall and shut off the water supply to the shower.

Remove the handle screw and slide the handle off the stem. Unscrew the chrome cover plate and slide it off the stem collar.

Unscrew the stem collar by hand or remove stubborn collars with a pair of slip-grooved pliers. Unscrew the stem with an adjustable wrench; recessed stems must be removed with plumber's sockets.

Pull the old O-rings off the stem, unscrew the stem washer screw and remove the old washer. Put a new washer in its place, put the washer screw back into the stem with a screwdriver and then slide a new O-ring onto the stem.

Screw the stem into the faucet and tighten with an adjustable wrench or plumber's socket. Screw the stem collar onto the stem and hand tighten; screw the cover plate back onto the stem.

Slide the faucet handle onto the stem and drive the handle screw into the stem with a screwdriver. Snap the screw cover piece back into the handle.

Turn on the water supply and check for leaks.

Unscrew the shower head from the shower arm with slip-groove pliers. Unscrew the shower arm from the recessed shower riser fitting; wrap a rag over the arm to protect it from slip-groove pliers scratches.

Soak the shower arm in a cleaner that removes calcium, lime and rust to remove the build-up on the shower head; refer to the cleaner manufacturer's soaking times. Replace the shower head if the cleaner fails to restore the shower head's performance.

Wrap Teflon tape on the threads of the shower arm. Wrap the tape counterclockwise to prevent the tape from backing off the shower arm.

Screw the shower arm into the recessed shower riser fitting and tighten with a strap wrench, or wrap a rag over the arm and tighten with slip-groove pliers.

Screw the shower head onto the shower arm and tighten with slip-groove pliers. Turn the shower faucet on and check for leaks.

Remove the shower drain cover screws with a screwdriver and pull the shower drain cover off. Remove any visible hair or debris at the opening of the drain.

Insert a hand-crank drain snake into the shower drain. Crank the drain snake clockwise to feed the cable through the drainpipe. Repeat this method until any blockage is cleared.

Pull the drain snake backward by hand to remove it from the drain opening, feeding the snake into the cable tumbler.

Pour water into the drain to ensure the blockage is cleared.

Place the shower drain cover back over the drain and drive the drain cover screws into place with a screwdriver.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Rag
  • Slip-groove pliers
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Plumber's sockets
  • Calcium-removing, lime-removing and rust-removing cleaner
  • Teflon tape
  • Strap wrench
  • 1/4-inch cable drain snake
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About the Author

A former cake decorator and competitive horticulturist, Amelia Allonsy is most at home in the kitchen or with her hands in the dirt. She received her Bachelor's degree from West Virginia University. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and on other websites.