When replacing or upgrading an old shower head, it’s essential to properly attach the pipe. Doing so ensures a tight seal and prevents leaks.
To do this, you’ll need to remove the shower arm and apply thread-sealing tape. Make sure you wrap it clockwise around each thread at least four times.
Unscrew the Old Shower Head
If your shower head won’t budge, rust or calcification (scale/mineral buildup) on its connector where it attaches to your pipe is likely at fault. Try taking a vinegar bath first to dissolve any rust and scale buildup, then apply penetrating lubricants such as WD-40 or Liquid Wrench to loosen fixture’s connector or nut so you can take it off by hand or with tools.
If the rust and scale were not removed by this step, you may need to soak the fixture in a vinegar bath overnight to completely clean it. Fill a plastic bag with white vinegar, secure it over the fixture’s connector or plumbing nut, then leave it overnight.
Once it’s soaked, turn on your water and give the fixture a thorough rinse. If it’s an attached showerhead to the wall, let the vinegar seep through all components of its connector.
After soaking for several hours, you should find it much easier to take your shower head apart. If not, wrap plumber’s tape around the teeth of your wrench or pliers so that no rust, mineral, or metal shavings fall onto your bathroom floor while trying to take apart the fixture.
If after several attempts at getting the shower head out by hand, it still won’t come off easily, you may need to use a rag and an adjustable wrench for extra leverage. The rag protects the nut from scratches while providing more leverage so it comes off easily.
Once you’ve successfully taken out your shower head, be sure to replace its nut. Doing this is an effective way to prevent future rust or mineral deposits from accumulating inside its nut.
You can also secure the pip with tamper-proof Torx screws with a recessed end that fits over it. These are readily available from Lowe’s and Harbor Freight for less than $2 each set.
When replacing an old shower head, be sure to wrap all threads with two to three layers of plumber’s tape to prevent leaks. Furthermore, test the shower head to confirm it doesn’t leak at any other connections; if so, add more plumber’s tape around these threads for extra security.
Apply Thread Sealant
If you want to replace or install a new shower head, be sure to secure the threads on the pipe that attaches it. Failure to do so could result in an extensive leak that could cost thousands of dollars to fix.
The initial step in cleaning your shower head is to take out the old one and thoroughly clean out its threads. Doing this can be especially tedious if there is gunk or residue present from previous use. A rag or toothbrush works best for this task.
Once the threads are clean, wrap a strip of plumber’s tape – commonly known as “Thread Sealant” – around them for watertight protection on most threaded connections. This type of teflon tape helps create an airtight seal around most threaded connections.
Thread sealant is easy to apply: place one end of the tape on the pipe and secure it with your thumb or finger; then begin wrapping around clockwise around all threads in the pipe threads. Complete four to six wraps for a tight seal.
Before applying thread sealant, be sure to test the shower head pipe for leaks. Doing this gives you a better indication of how much pipe sealant needs to be used; too much thread sealant could result in inadequate coverage and allow your pipe to leak.
Additionally, use a thread sealant designed specifically for metal pipe fittings. Metal pipes tend to have a softer exterior than plastic pipes and can become cracked or warped from excessive wrench pressure when tightened.
Hercules(r) Pro Dope(r) is an all-inclusive thread sealant paste that’s free from lead and nontoxic. Its easy-to-use formula won’t drip or clog, while preventing rust and corrosion by creating a protective coating on threaded fittings.
Loctite(r) 565 Thread Sealant is an industrial-strength thread sealant that cures quickly to 10,000 psi, making it the ideal choice for metal tapered pipe thread fittings. As an alternative to pipe dopes and Teflon tape, Loctite 565 provides superior strength thread sealing performance.
Wrap Thread-Sealing Tape
Plumber’s tape or Teflon thread seal tape is a lightweight but highly effective tool that helps ensure your pipes are watertight. Available in different colours like white and yellow, you can pick the one best suited to the task at hand.
It comes in various thicknesses, up to 3.5 millimetres, and can be used for threaded connections for many different applications. As it’s chemically inert and won’t react with chemicals, gases or acids – making it perfect for sealing pipe connections before installation.
This product is ideal for sealing pipes, especially those with high-pressure lines, since it can withstand considerable force. Additionally, it serves as an invaluable tool when shaping or cutting pipes precisely as it helps you work more quickly and efficiently.
Thread sealing tape is made from polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a durable film used in many applications. It can lubricate and seal pipe threads while also preventing them from seizing when unscrewed.
Tape should be wrapped multiple times around a pipe’s threads before it is tightened into place to lubricate it and prevent leaks. Furthermore, tape helps keep threads from seizing up or slipping when taking out and replacing the pipe.
To use the tape, begin at the end of the shower arm and wrap it around threads clockwise. This will create a watertight seal that guarantees your shower head won’t leak when installed.
Before you begin, ensure the threads on your shower arm are free from debris and clean. If not, use a wire brush or scouring pad to get them squeaky-clean.
Once you’ve finished, hand tighten the shower arm into its fitting, making sure it is secure and no threads cross-threaded. Be mindful not to overtighten as this could result in a leak that requires professional repair.
Install the New Shower Head
Installing a new shower head is an affordable and practical way to make a major upgrade in your bathroom. Not only will it reduce your water bill, but it also adds some modern touches like spa-like spray modes and water saving technology to the space.
To replace a shower head, you’ll need an old toothbrush or small scrubbing brush, two washcloths, an adjustable wrench, groove-joint pliers, pipe thread or teflon tape and the new shower head. You can find replacement shower heads at most hardware stores; some come with an install kit including the rubber washer.
First, unscrew the old shower head from its wall using a strap wrench or pliers. Be mindful not to damage your wall’s finish as if you do, it may be difficult to take out again.
Next, clean the shower arm threads to eliminate any remaining plumber’s tape or mineral deposits. You can do this by using a wire brush, an old toothbrush, or damp paper towels to wipe away the threads and dry them thoroughly.
Once the shower arm is free from existing tape and dirt, wrap it with plumbing tape for a tight seal on its threads. Doing this will prevent leaks when attaching your new shower head.
Once your new shower head is attached, screw it into the arm with over-tape threads. This should be a straightforward process; however, before doing so, test out both hot and cold faucets to ensure everything functions as expected.
Once you’ve attached the new shower head, hand-tighten it onto the pipe by turning clockwise (to the right). Continue tightening until it feels snug.
If you’re not confident installing your shower head yourself, hiring a plumber to do it for you is always an option. They usually do it correctly and ensure the connection is secure, so hiring them may be beneficial in the long run.
Before leaving the house, check your new shower head for leaks to prevent water damage in the plumbing system. Hopefully there won’t be any, but if there are, call in a plumber to take a look.