Leaking Shower Head: How To Determine the Cause and Fix It Like a Pro!

Sick of hearing that slow drip in the bathroom coming from your leaking shower head?

We can totally empathize with you. It's about as disturbing as scraping your nails down a blackboard. Oof!

That’s why we reached out to our resident experts to give us the best insight into how to fix a leaking shower head.

Before we jump into how to fix your dripping shower head, we need to first cover some of the basics of why a shower head may be leaking. 

2 Main Reasons For a Leaky Shower Head

You may not know this, but a leaky shower head is not always due to your shower head being old or defective. To know what you need to do to fix it, you need to look at the two types of symptoms:


1. Shower Head Dripping When Water Is OFF

If you’re experiencing this issue, then it is unrelated to the shower head. Your problem, in fact, is that your shower cartridge inside of your shower valve has gone bad.

The shower cartridge sits inside of the shower handle and controls the water volume, temperature and may balance pressure. When the cartridge goes bad water can pass through its seal when the valve is closed and potentially come out of your shower head or tub spout when you aren’t using the shower.

This type of repair will require you to shut off the water to your house and work on the rough plumbing. While you can repair the valve on your own, it’s always recommended to hire a licensed plumber if you’re not comfortable with bigger plumbing tasks.

These types of repairs do not come with a one size fits all solution mainly because there are many types of shower valves. You could have a Delta, Moen, Kohler or some old obsolete shower valve. Unfortunately, fixing a shower valve faucet is not as easy as fixing a leaking shower head. Every manufacturer has a different way of repairing their valves and come with different parts. So, you'll need to do your homework on what type of product you have before you move forward with any repairs.

Leaking Shower Head: How To Determine the Cause and Fix It Like a Pro! 

2. Shower Head Dripping When Water Is ON

Now, if you’re experiencing this, then you have some issues with a connection in your shower head. Depending on the type of shower head you have, there can be several areas that will spring a leak. Fortunately, these are typically low cost and easy fixes that you can do yourself.

The most common areas for a shower head to leak from are:

A. Fixed Shower Head Leaking At Swivel or Threads

Leaking Threads of Rain Shower Head

B. Hand Held Shower Head Leaking At Connector

Hand Held Shower Head Replacement 

C. Shower Hose Leaking At Connections


 Shower Hose for Hand Held Shower Heads

D. Shower Head Holder Leaking At Swivel or Threads

Shower Head Holder for Hand Held Shower Heads
Typically, you'll see that the shower head is squirting water from one of these areas, although the majority of water is still coming out of your main shower head.

Let’s move along and discuss how you can fix a leaking shower head, when it is in fact due to the shower head itself.


What You'll Need To Fix A Leaking Shower Head

No job can be done right without the necessary tools. Let's see what you'll need before getting into the step-by-step repair.

  • Wrench or Pliers
  • Flat Head Screwdriver or Paper Clip
  • Cloth
  • White Vinegar
  • Thread Seal Tape
  • Shower Washers
    Now that you're equipped for the job, let's fix this shower head!


    10 Steps To Fix A Leaky Shower Head 


    1.  Diagnose The Area Of The Leak 

    As we talked about above, it will be contingent on the type of shower head you have and where it's leaking from. 

    2. Shut Off Your Water At The Shower Valve 

    You don't want water to be pumping out during the repair! 

    3. Remove The Old Shower Head 

    While you can generally loosen the shower head with your hands, if it is really stuck on the shower arm, use a pair of pliers or a wrench. Just wrap the threads with a cloth to protect the threads from getting chewed up when using your tools. Remember: lefty loosey, righty tighty!

    4. Inspect The Shower Head For Damage

    If the threads or any area of the shower head, hose, or holder is cracked, split or generally compromised, you'll need to buy a new replacement shower head or accessory. We cover your best options for this at the end of the article. 

    5. Clean The Shower Arm

    There will typically be a lot of old and worn thread seal tape wrapped around the shower arm and you'll want to remove it. Just peel it off the arm and wipe it down with a cloth and some warm soapy water. If the shower arm is damaged or corroded, you'll want to replace it. It literally only takes a few minutes to change a shower arm and flange and it will really upgrade the aesthetic of your shower. 

    6. Clean The Face Of The Shower Head 

    While you have the shower head uninstalled, it's not a bad idea to get some of the scale and soap that may have built up on the surface and in the nozzles. We recommend cleaning your shower head often by submerging the shower head in a mixture of white vinegar and water for 30 minutes to an hour and then rinse with water. You can soak it longer if it's got heavier build-up. 

    7. Clean Inside Of The Shower Head Or Accessory

    Whether it's your shower head, hose or holder that's been leaking, you'll want to remove any of the shower head washers from inside the head or accessory. You can pop the shower head washers out using a small flat head screwdriver or a paper clip. Make sure you clean out any debris or loose thread seal tape.   

    8. Replace Your Shower Head Washers

    They can be purchased at any local hardware store for a couple of bucks and come in the standard shower head size to fit your showerhead, hose or holder bracket. 

    (Affiliate Link)

    9. Re-Apply Thread Seal Tape To The Shower Arm Threads

    Wrap the shower arm or threads of the hand held shower head holder 4-5 times going clockwise. Use your fingers to apply pressure to the thread seal tape, ensuring that it adheres well to the threads.
    (Affiliate Link)

    10. Reinstall Your Shower Head & Test For Leaks!

    Hopefully, you've found that these steps fixed your leaking shower head. If not, we got you covered. 


    What To Do If You Can't Repair A Leaking Shower Head

    If your leaky shower head repair doesn't go to plan, you still have some options of course.

    A. Upgrade to a New Replacement Shower Head.

    B. Contact the Manufacturer and see if you have any warranty coverage.


    A. Upgrade To A New Replacement Shower Head

    Sometimes the time and effort to fix a leaking Shower Head may be better spent in upgrading your shower head. Whether you're on a budget or want to really impress your significant other, here are our top recommendations: 

    Replacement Shower Head Accessories

    A new accessory is a low-cost way to repair only the part in need. Sometimes when you take things apart, you find that there are more issues than you expect. Replace that calcified shower arm, stiff shower hose or sagging shower holder.

    Shower Arm & Flange 72 Inch Shower Hose Metal Shower Head Holder
    72 Inch Extra Long Shower hose HammerHead 100% Metal Shower Holder Bracket for Hand Showers


    Replacement Rain Shower Heads

    Rainfall shower heads make for a perfect upgrade to any bathroom, giving you both an amazing rainfall shower experience and a high-end design touch.

    This may just be your sign to go for that luxurious new shower head that you've been eyeing and give your partner an awesome surprise to come home to after a long day of work!

    8 Inch Metal Rain Shower Head by HammerHead Showers

    8 Inch Metal Rain Shower Head by HammerHead Showers


    Replacement Hand Held Shower Heads

    Hand Held Shower Heads are a perfect upgrade for those looking for more flexibility in the shower. The detachable hand shower hose makes it a breeze to rinse shampoo, clean the shower or even wash your dog!

    All Metal Hand Held Shower Head Set by HammerHead Showers

    All Metal Hand Held Shower Head with Hose by HammerHead Showers

    B. Contact The Manufacturer!

    You may not know this, but almost all reputable shower head manufacturers carry a warranty. That means you could be eligible to get the part you need or an entire new shower head for next to nothing.

    That is, if the manufacturer has a warranty and you meet these basic criteria:

    You Are The Original Owner - This is the big one. Warranties generally only extend to the original purchaser, so just make sure you're clear on that. We know you may be thinking, but I don't have the receipt. Well, that may be an issue if you can't confirm where you bought the product from, but don't let it prevent you from reaching out.

    -The Issue Is Covered By The Warranty - Sometimes things like wear and tear aren't covered. But if it is a leak in the shower head, that should fall under the warranty.

    -The Product Hasn't Been Modified Or Tampered With -  If you tried removing the flow restrictor and broke the shower head, the manufacturer could void the warranty.

    -You Are Within The Warranty Time Frame - Most manufacturers have a lifetime warranty, while others have 10 years, 5 years or less.

    Whether you are unsure or not about the warranty and how it applies to you, it doesn't hurt to give a call to the respective manufacturer and ask if you are covered.

    We go into full detail on shower head warranty information in this article. 

    ***The Shower Head Store is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Amazon offers a small commission on products sold through their affiliate links. Each of your purchases via our Amazon affiliation links supports our cause at no additional cost to you. To learn more, you can read up on our Affiliate Disclosures Page.***


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