When I moved into my house just over a year ago, I was very unhappy with the showerhead in my upstairs shower. My mom thought it was great, because it has a few different settings, but since it’s plastic, I just thought of it as grody (that’s my favorite word lately for things that I think are gross). I had a feeling changing out the showerhead would be an easy project, once I got around to doing it, and Bob Vila agreed, rating this as a “beginner” project on his website. So now that I’m feeling a little better (I had the bronchitis) and was actually home on a weekend, I decided to include this in my to do list for the weekend.
First, I picked up the materials that I would need. Before you head out to your local store, double check how your current showerhead is attached. If it’s a square neck, you can use an adjustable wrench, but if it’s a round neck, you’ll need a strap wrench. Mine was a square neck, so I put an adjustable wrench on my list. I also needed a showerhead, of course, and was overwhelmed by the choices when I got there. It’s definitely an individual choice, so after some back and forth, I finally decided on a Moen with three settings. Another important thing you’ll need is plumbers tape – this is to wrap the threads of the shower stem to keep any water from coming out. Some showerheads will come with what the guy at Lowe’s called a “baby roll” of plumbers tape (which mine did), but make sure to check before you leave the store.
Bob Vila also suggests that you take this as an opportunity to replace your shower stem and collar (the handy little metal disk that sits up against the wall) if they’re pitted or corroded. I didn’t do that this time, but I might in the near future.
When I was ready to start my project, I set out everything I would need and got started. I’m pretty tall, but I still needed to stand on the sides of the tub to get a good view of the showerhead in order to remove it. You might want to think about putting a step stool in the tub for more stability.
Here's the old showerhead
The first step is to remove the old showerhead (remembering the old rule “righty tighty, lefty loosey” if you’re like me and always tightening things instead loosening them. In this case, “lefty” is also counterclockwise). Once you’ve removed the showerhead, it’s important to remove any traces of plumbers tape or sealant left behind on the threads. I was able to do this with my fingernails, but I think a good stiff toothbrush would also do the trick if you’re having trouble. If you are planning to replace the shower stem, check out Bob Vila’s step by step guide here. He does suggest turning off your water before starting this project, but I didn’t do that, and it wasn’t any trouble.
Once you’ve cleaned off the tape and/or sealant, you’re ready to install the new showerhead.
My shower stem, all cleaned off. You can see it's starting to corrode, so next on my list is replacing the stem
The next step is to wrap the plumbers tape around the exposed threads. The tape should be wrapped clockwise, twice around the threads.
The tape should be wrapped clockwise around the threads
The tape is not too thick, but I used a pair of scissors to cut it. You’ll want to have those handy to make it easier!
Finally, it was time to put the new showerhead on!
New showerhead - yay!
Although this part might seem the easiest, it’s also a spot where mistakes can happen. You want to be sure not to cross-thread the showerhead and shower stem, so carefully align the showerhead and hand-tighten it on to start. Then, you can tighten it further using your wrench (I again needed the adjustable wrench to tighten this showerhead).
It's all installed!
Finally, you do want to turn the water on at this point to check for any leaks. Then your new showerhead is ready to use!