It’s time to make upgrades to your bathroom. You’re ready to have better water pressure while washing your hair, bathing or enjoying a more therapeutic shower. And the only thing you need is a new showerhead. But learning how to install a handheld showerhead may be the first thing you need to learn to do before buying one, specifically if you’re not into do-it-yourself (DIY) projects.
The good news is more often than not, you will not need to spend hundreds of dollars on plumber installation. If you’re lucky, you can just unscrew your old showerhead by hand counterclockwise and screw in the new one clockwise.
But assuming that it is a bit more involved than loosening and tightening a shower head the way you would a screw-top wine bottle, here’s what you need to know about types of showerheads, what tools you’ll need, and how to install a more-involved handheld showerhead.
How to Install a Handheld Showerhead – Complete Guide
Types of showerheads
There are 11 shower heads to choose from:
- Ceiling shower heads
- Dual showerheads
- Filtered shower heads
- Handheld showerheads
- High-pressure showerheads
- Light-emitting diode (LED) showerheads
- Low-pressure showerheads
- Rainfall/rain shower heads
- Recreational vehicle (RV) showerheads
- Shower panels
- Wall mount showerheads
Troubleshooting showerhead problems
If you’re replacing your shower head for aesthetics, then you probably won’t have to deal with any kind of plumbing complications. However, if you’re not sure whether you even need one and like the pressure of your old one, make sure that you don’t have a clogged shower head.
How do you know if it’s that? Try unscrewing it, and then testing the water. If it shoots out without any problems but trickles with the showerhead on, your showerhead needs to be cleaned. Use mineral deposit remover or vinegar to clean it out. You may need to soak it if there is more buildup.
Main water pipes can also be the culprit. Depending on the plumber, some feel very strongly about galvanized steel versus copper, the latter of which is currently believed to be a better option for water pressure. If the water pressure is poor altogether, buying a new shower head won’t fix the issue. Handle pipe repairs first. If the water is great as is, enjoy your shower head shopping and find whatever works best for you and your family’s needs.
What you need to know about showerheads
If you buy a shower head (or faucet) that is an energy saver option, do not expect to have the same kind of full-blast water pressure. The goal of these products is to conserve water. It will get the job done, but this may not feel like the waterfall you (possibly) were used to. Know this before you transition from a traditional showerhead to a green version.
Aerating showerheads mix air with water to create more of a mist. Laminar-flow showerheads have individual streams of water but not a blast. Having a water flow restrictor and multiple shower pressure options will give you the option of choosing when you want to have more of a “full blast” option versus a low-pressure water option.
What you’ll need
If a simple twist of your old showerhead doesn’t work, without excess force, you may need slip-joint pliers, electrical tape and/or a towel for a more extensive job. Keep an adjustable wrench nearby to take off the original shower head, too. (You would have needed these to test the original shower head for clogs anyway. Follow the same process for repairs, too.)
How to Install a Handheld Showerhead
Use the pliers to grip the shower arm, and then turn slowly with a towel to protect the finish. Then use an adjustable wrench to loosen the older showerhead. Once the old showerhead comes off, you may have to clean off any old Teflon tape (also called plumbers tape) or sealant if it was used on the threads. If you’ve never had any prior problems with your shower head, it may be a clean twist. Just make sure to wipe off any rust or mineral deposits, which is common.
If need be, use more tape to wrap two to three times around the threads, and then screw on your new shower head. If you’re lucky, this will be the end of the job. Turn on the water to make sure there are no leaks, and you’re ready to test out your new shower head in action.
Installing this new showerhead may be one of your easiest DIY jobs. If the pressure works properly and all the settings operate as needed, you should be able to use your new shower head for a while. Interestingly, some sites recommend changing the showerhead every six to eight months. However, it’s common for shower head warranties to be at least five years.
So, which one should you believe? Black mold, sediment buildup and black mold are common reasons to change it. The good news is soaking your shower head in vinegar or peroxide may be able to make your shower head last longer. As with any other product, maintenance is usually half the battle of longevity. The other is personal preference.