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How to Install a New Shower Fixture

by Lucinda Gunnin

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New chrome shower head

Things You Need:

  • Shower head
  • Vice grips
  • Plumbing pipe dope

One of the quickest ways to spruce up your bathroom is to replace a worn-out shower head with a new bathroom fixture. Replacement showerheads can be used to remedy a problem, such as a leaky shower head that has been blocked with lime and hard water deposits. A replacement shower head is an easy way to add value to a bathroom remodeling project. Best of all, this is one home-improvement project that doesn't require a lot of specialty tools.

Installing a Shower Fixture:

  1. Turning off the water. This is not an absolute necessity, since you are not doing major plumbing work. Most showers do not have individual shut-off valves like your sink or toilet. To turn off the water to your shower faucet, you will need to locate the main water shut-off valve to your home. If you are simply changing a showerhead, you probably don't need to turn off your water.

  2. Remove the old shower head Most shower heads simply screw into the water supply line coming out of the wall. Unless the old shower head is an older model, you should be able to unscrew it without any additional tools. In older homes, the shower head might have a screw holding it in place. If you have this type of shower head, use a pair of vice grips to remove the screw. The shower head will likely fall off in your hand after the screw is removed.

    • If the shower head is stuck, grip the water supply line with a pair of vice grips while twisting the shower head loose. To prevent scuffing or scratching your plumbing or new shower fixture, cover the ends of the vice grips with duct tape or place a cloth over the pipe before gripping the supply line. The tape or cloth will prevent the tool from leaving a mark while still allowing you to hold the supply line still while attaching the showerhead.

  3. Prepare the pipe threads. Coat the threads of the water supply line with plumbing pipe dope or other waterproof sealant available in the plumbing section of most hardware stores. The sealant helps to create a watertight bond between the water supply line and the new shower head, preventing leaks and prolonging the life of your new shower fixture.

  4. Attach the new shower head. Line up the threads on the new shower head with those on the water supply line. Twist the shower head gently into the supply line until it is finger tight. Once the new shower fixture is in place, shine with an appropriate bathroom cleanser.

  5. Test the new shower head. If you've shut the water off, turn it on now and test the shower. Watch for leaks around the base of the shower head. If there are any leaks, remove the shower head and reapply the pipe dope or plumber's tape to the supply line and test it again.

Shower Fixture Tip:

  1. After you turn the water back on, flush your toilet or run an outdoor faucet to help release air or dirt that has settled in your water lines. Dirt and other debris can damage bathroom fixtures and shower heads.

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