Riverside Plumbing

Plumbing Riverside Illinois

Fix a Leaking Showerhead

A leaking shower head can bring on many problems. Whether you’re dripping shower head occurs while you’re taking a shower (it’s not part of the spray) or worse, when you’ve turned the faucet off, it’s definitely time to make a repair. Fortunately, this type of problem is something that homeowners can handle, with a little coaching and patience.  You can fix a leaking showerhead.

The biggest issue with this kind of problem is water waste. Most of us know that water is scarce, and one of the first things we can do to conserve is stop unwanted leaks.

There are two schools of leaking shower faucets. 1) You notice water dribbling out of the shower head, down the handle and along the hose until it falls into the tub. 2) You turn the water off tightly (valves are closed), and you see and hear drip-drip-drip as water comes out of the shower head. In particular this seems to get louder at 2:00 am in the morning!

If your problem is the first one, that is water is dripping out of the shower head as you shower, this is a fairly easy repair. The most likely problem is that the washer inside the shower head tightening nut needs replacing. It’s either worn out (e.g. cracked, broken apart) or has become compromised with mineral build-up from hard water. Follow this process to remove and replace the washers.

1.    You first need to loosen and remove what’s called a knurled tightening nut. This nut is the one you see that holds the shower head to the arm or shower hose. Knurled describes the type of nut. It means it is not hexagonal shaped like a regular nut. Instead, it is rounded, but grooved. Supposedly this allows you to simply grip and hand tighten it. The problem is, you usually have to use tools to REMOVE it as over time, and they can get fairly rigid and stuck. Use two wrenches; one on the arm and one on the nut. If you have a flexible shower arm, then hold that part with your hand. Just put a rag under your wrench so you don’t damage any surfaces.
2.    After you’ve twisted off the nut, you should immediately see the rubber washer inside. Pry it out. Unless you have a specialized shower head, you can use a universal replacement washer from a shower head/hose repair kit. Find these kits and individual washers at your hardware store.
3.    When the washer is in place, you can put everything back and tighten the knurled nut back up. Don’t forget to use plumber’s putty or teflon tape on the threading to ensure a good seal.

If you run into a problem, where you discover a lot of corrosion or other damage (perhaps it was very difficult to remove the shower head!), then it may be time to just replace the leaky shower head altogether. Take the unit to your home improvement or hardware store for their advice. They can outfit you with an inexpensive replacement.

If water is dripping from the shower head when it is turned off, you need to fix this problem because it can waste hundreds or thousands of gallons and really increase your monthly water bill. The challenge is that this problem is a little more complicated to fix then the other type of shower head leak.

The fix for this issue goes beyond the scope of this article. This is because it involves replacing the valve in your shower faucet. There are several different types and brands of valves, and yours could be any one of them. Also, the process will be different, depending on if you have a one or two-handled faucet. If you can tell the temperature of the water dripping from your shower head, it will make things easier for which valve you need to work on, hot or cold.

In any case you’ll need to turn off the water supply to fix this kind of leaking shower head problem. Your process will involve removing your valve to determine what you have. Then, referring to the brand if possible, buy a replacement valve. For standard types, you can usually do this at your local home center. For more specialty varieties, contact the manufacturer to get a replacement kit. Instructions in the kits will help you as needed.

When you’re done, make note of how you did things. Record the type of kit you purchased and parts you needed in case your leaky shower head problem returns!  In that event we suggest you call in your expert plumber to assist you.