We installed our new hand held massaging shower head, in less than fifteen minutes. 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
Clean Threads of Water Pipe
Note the debris hanging off the water pipe threads in the next picture. Good idea to clean this off, to help ensure washer seal integrity when you screw on the new head holder.
- Peel off any old sealing 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 any old joint sealing compound. 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.
- A little leftover doesn’t matter. 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. 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 usually results in cracking and subsequent leaking of the fixture. Finger tightening should be plenty adequate. 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 are typically included with new shower heads, form strong and resilient water tight seals with the source pipe, stopping all leakage even when the fixture is simply hand tightened.
- Apply sealing tape 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 sealing compound as a last resort. If neither finger tightening nor sealing tape stops the leaks, then you can try liberally applying plumbers joint compound to the source pipe threads. Thread sealants typically provide the best leak stoppage, but can be messy, as they can ooze and drip as you tighten the fixture over them. Wipe off any excess sealer after installation.
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 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 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 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
- Observe 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. Since the hose end as well as the holder threads 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 shower head to hose
- Avoid scratching hose end 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 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 after installation, and appears to be functioning properly. No leaks detected. However, don’t immediately conclude that the installation is complete. Run the shower through a few paces as follows, to make sure leaks do not develop.
- 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.
- Rapidly turn water to shower 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 at temperature extremes. 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.
- Check 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 y all means, stay clean.
- 2015-12-14: Added more appropriate tags.
- 2015-09-27: Added appropriate tags.
- 2015-01-11: Originally published this piece.