Picture of a Waterpik hand shower after installation, and working properly.

How to Install Hand Held Shower Head

We installed our new hand held massaging shower head, in less than fifteen minutes.  In this piece we cover the instructions on how to install hand held shower head.

How to Install Hand Held Shower Head

No tools or supplies were required, except for when removing the old shower head.  For that, we used a Crescent adjustable wrench.  Here’s how it was done.

Remove Old Fixed Mount Shower Head

Probably the hardest task in installing a new hand held massaging shower head, is removing the old fixed mount shower head; especially if it’s at least several years or decades old, is made of metal that has corroded, or

Removing our old fixed mount shower head using only a 10-inch Crescent adjustable wrench.
Removing our old fixed mount shower head using only a 10-inch Crescent wrench. How to install hand held shower head.

Clean Threads of Water Pipe

Note the debris hanging off the water pipe threads in the next picture.  Good idea to clean off any old plumbers tape and putty sealants, to help ensure washer seal integrity when you screw on the new shower head holder.

Picture of the threaded water supply pipe in our shower stall, after shower head removed.
Threaded Water Supply Pipe After Shower Head uninstalled. How to install hand held shower head.

Peel Off Any Old Plumbers Tape

If your careful, the old Teflon tape can be unraveled from the threads, just as you would let out some sewing thread from a spool.

Wipe Off  Old Plumbers Putty

Use a dry old rag to remove excess remaining joint compound from pipe threads.  For stubborn areas, deep within the threads, use a small screwdriver to pick it out. Don’t worry if you can’t get the threads completely clean.  A little old sealing compound is harmless, especially if it’s still pliable.  It will become a contributing part of the new seal once you tighten the fitting onto it.

Install Hand Shower Holder Bracket

Thread the ball joint part (gray in photo below) of the holding bracket onto the source water pipe.

Avoid Over Tightening the Shower Head Holder

This bracket also carries water from the pipe to the shower hose, and is typically made of plastic, even though it appears to be chrome metal in this case.  Over tightening a plastic fixture onto a metal pipe can result in cracking and leaking of the fixture.  Finger tightening should seal well.  No pipe wrenches needed, and are in fact, discouraged on plastic attachments.

Plumbers Putty and Teflon Tape Usually Not Required, but Nice

Today’s sealing washers, which typically come with new shower heads, form strong and resilient water tight seals with the source pipe.  They effectively stop all leakage even when you just hand tighten the fixture.

Apply Plumbers Tape Only If Needed

However, if the threaded joints leak after hand tightening, or simple for added protection and peace of mind against potential leaks, apply the Teflon tape (our first choice), by wrapping it in a clockwise direction several times around the source pipe threads.

Apply Plumbers Putty as a Last Resort

If neither finger tightening nor Teflon plumbers tape stops the leaks, then try  applying lots of plumbers paste to all pipe threads.  Thread sealants typically provide the best leak stoppage, but can be messy, as they often ooze and drip as you tighten the fixture over them.  Wipe off any excess putty after installation.  Trim away any excess tape sealer too.

Picture of a holder for a hand held shower head, about to be screwed onto the supply pipe.
A holder for a hand held shower head, about to be screwed onto the supply pipe. New shower head bracket and spigot. How to install hand held shower head.

Position the Silver Holder

On this Waterpik shower head that we installed, there’s a large nut at the back of the silver holder that’s used to lock the holder in place once you’ve positioned it as desired.  Position and lock the head in the desired spot as follows:

Loosen Shower Holder Lock Nut

In order to twist the holder around, unscrew the gray lock nut just enough to unlock the holder from the ball joint.  Do not completely loosen this nut, as the assembly might come apart and drop internal parts out.

Position the Hand Held Shower Holder

With the holder unlocked, position it as desired.  For most general shower head installations, the holder should be oriented so that the shower head and hose are plum (perfectly vertical) when seated in the holder.  This helps guarantee that the shower head won’t fall out when not being used, and assures that the hose will not kink while hanging.  In our installation, the shower head ended up quite close to the ceiling.  So we had to bend the holder forward a bit for adequate clearance.  This introduced some light bending at both ends of the hose, but not enough to worry over.

Finger Tighten the Shower Holder Lock Nut

Once you’ve positioned the holder on the ball joint, lock this joint in place by hand tightening the gray locking nut.  If you do not plan on repositioning this joint ever, you can tighten an extra quarter turn with an adjustable wrench, being careful not to mar the finished surfaces of the holder.  However, do this only if absolutely necessary.  Again, over tightening these plastic joints can permanently damage them.  Just a little force goes a very long way with plastic threads.

Connect Source End of Hand Shower Hose to Holder Bracket

Picture of a Installed Holder for Hand Held Shower.
Installed Holder for hand held shower sprayer.  How to install hand held shower head.

Observe Shower Hose Polarity, If Any

Some shower hoses require that a specific hose end be attached to the shower head, and that the other be attached to the source pipe.  In these cases, the ends are so labeled.

Only Hand Tighten all Shower Joints !

Since the hose end as well as the holder threads and the ball joint are likely made of a softer plastic, avoid using wrenches or pliers to tighten this joint.  The plastic is delicate and will easily break.  Should leakage still occur here after hand tightening, try the sealing tape or pipe joint compound to stop if.  However, if none of these works, then the holder piece is likely defective.  So return the shower head to the store for replacement.

Attach Hand Held Shower Head to Hose

Picture of a Waterpik massaging shower with hose threaded onto it.
Waterpik hand shower with hose threaded onto it. How to install hand held shower head.

Avoid Scratching Hose Finishes

Chrome-finished plastic scratches and mars with very little force.  So use only your hands to secure these connections to prolong finish life. However, if you feel that an adjustable wrench or vice grips is warranted, be sure to first wrap the tightening ring with an old dish cloth or rag, and then set the wrench jaws around that.  This minimizes chances of scratching.

Tighten All Joints Just Enough to Seal

Sometimes even hefty elbow grease can break these joints, and they typically seal well with far less tightening torque than that.

Test Shower Head Installation 

Below is our Waterpik massaging shower head after installation, and appears to be functioning properly.  No leaks found.  But don’t rush to conclude that the installation is done.  Run the shower through a few paces as follows, to make sure leaks do not show up.

Picture of a Waterpik hand shower after installation, and working properly.
Waterpik hand shower after installation, and working properly. How to install hand held shower head.

Test All Spray Settings

Our Waterpik has eight different spray settings.  Adjust to each of these, while water is turned fully on to make sure the settings lever moves easily. Also, different sprays introduce differing amount of water back pressure to the hose and fittings.  Particularly for the most constrictive settings, verify no leaking is occurring.

Quickly Turn Water On and Off Several Times

This not only stresses the joints and hose, but also helps to seat the rubber sealing washers into their final positions.

Run Both All-Hot and All-Cold Water Through Shower

Run with all hot water first for a minute or so.  Look for leaks.  Then, run at cold for a minute or so.  Again, watch for leaks.

Watch for Leaks, for Several Days

As you shower each day, for the first week or so, keep an eye out for leaks at any of the joints.  Chances are that if they do not leak in the first week, then they’ll probably never leak for the entire life of the shower.


You’re done with this shower installation project.  Enjoy, and by all means, stay clean.

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Revision History

  • 2019-02-08: Added key phrase targeting.
  • 2015-12-14: Added more appropriate tags.
  • 2015-09-27: Added appropriate tags.
  • 2015-01-11: Originally published this piece.