Shower Head Installation

DEAR MIKE: My shower head no longer showers. You might even say it trickles or dribbles. I mean, I'm all for saving water but I do expect to get wet when I shower. What can I do? -- Jill K.

DEAR JILL: Ever heard of a bath? After all, who wants to spend the five minutes it takes replace a showerhead, right?

It's likely that the showerhead is corroded to the point where the volume of water can't spray out. The other possibility is that there is a problem with the shower valve.

If you remove the showerhead and turn the water on, you should have a strong stream of water blowing out of the shower arm. If you don't have plenty of water squirting out, the showerhead is not the problem. That said, the problem is probably the showerhead.

When you remove the showerhead, make sure you don't disturb the shower arm. Hold onto the arm as you unscrew the showerhead. The arm is screwed into a fitting in the wall and you don't want to cause a drip at that connection.

Showerheads are pretty cheap, but if you don't want to buy a new one, you can clean out the old one.

When you remove the showerhead, check the back of it for debris or buildup. In the back of the showerhead is a disc with some inlet holes. Use a paper clip and poke through the inlet holes to clear them. Follow the same procedure and clean out the spray outlets at the front of the showerhead.

Now pucker up and blow into the back of the showerhead. If the air moves freely through, you are done. If it still doesn't flow well, you might try soaking it in a mixture of vinegar and warm water.

When you are ready to replace the showerhead on the arm, wrap the threads on the arm three times with Teflon tape and screw it back on.

You might decide to upgrade your showerhead to a massaging head, handheld head or even a rain showerhead. They are all very easy to install.

All nonhandheld showerheads go on the same way. Handheld showerheads have a fitting that attaches between the shower arm and head. This fitting has a support piece that holds the handheld unit when not in use. This support piece elbows downward where you attach the hose for the handheld unit. Again use Teflon tape at all connections.

Some handheld showerheads connect directly to the shower arm and then you mount the support piece to the shower wall using a peel-off adhesive pad. Avoid this type like the plague because it never seems to stay attached to the wall for long.

A rain shower unit is pretty slick. It has an extension arm that moves the water to a spray head about the size of a teacup saucer. The spray head rises above you and lets the water fall down upon you, so you can imagine yourself taking a shower under a waterfall in some faraway jungle paradise. These showerheads are expensive, but they install exactly like the $3 cheapies.

You can also buy a double rain showerhead so that two people can shower at the same time without one person being left shivering in the corner of the shower. Just screw it on and adjust the heads. After all, you never know when you will be showering with a water hog. 

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