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How to Fix a Leaky Shower Head

If your shower is leaky, the sound is agreeably quite annoying. But it’s not just irritating. Even a slow drip can waste hundreds or thousands of gallons of water over time, which will cost more than making a simple repair. Worn seals, corroded parts, and damaged rubber gaskets and O-rings are common reasons for a shower head to leak. The issue may originate from the valve stem or valve cartridge as well.

Fortunately, a leaky shower head can usually be fixed without a professional. We’ll list and explain the general steps to follow for having a leak-free shower.

Turn Off the Water Supply

Turn off the water supply to your shower or bathroom. If this isn’t possible, turn off the main water supply to your home. After the water supply valve is turned off, try to run the shower faucet to make sure no water is flowing. Place a towel or rag over the shower floor and drain for protection should tools or parts fall.

Many people begin by trying to tighten the handle to stop the water from dripping. However, cranking the handle too hard will over-tighten it, which will damage the valve and create a bigger problem. To avoid this, you’ll want to assess the issue and proceed depending on the type of shower faucet, valve, and cartridge you have.

Disassemble the Shower Handle

If there’s a cap in the center of the handle, use a flathead screwdriver to pry it off. Then you can remove the screw from the handle. A piece that hasn’t been serviced in a while may be stuck, but heating it with a hair dryer or using a handle puller can free the part.

Now you can remove the faceplate from the shower wall, either by unscrewing it or prying it off. You should then see a metal sleeve covering the shower valve. Unscrew the sleeve or pull it off. If you have a leaky shower faucet with two handles, remove the locking clip, cartridge, valve stem, and other parts if necessary and replace anything that’s defective. Most parts can be removed with a metal wrench, but some faucet brands require a specially designed cartridge puller tool.

Purchase the Right Replacement Parts

If you don’t know the parts you need, bring the cartridge, valve stem, or washers, O-rings, gaskets, and valve seats to a hardware store for help finding exact replacements. Make sure all appropriate replacement items are available before you reinstall any components.

Clean the Faucet

Remove grime and mineral deposits from the area around the faucet using an equal parts water and vinegar solution. Scrape away any deposits with an old toothbrush.

Re-Assemble the Faucet

To put your shower faucet back together, follow these simple steps:

  • Install a new rubber gasket, ensuring it fits snugly into the faucet.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installing the valve stem/cartridge.
  • Re-install the sleeve, baseplate, and handle, fastening the components with a wrench or pliers.

Now, you can turn the water supply back on. Let the shower run for at least 30 seconds and then turn it off. Check the area for any leaks or drips. If there’s no leakage, apply caulking around the baseplate; this will create a watertight seal with the wall.

If Necessary, Contact a Plumber

When a shower is leaky, it’s usually not difficult to fix. However, some types of faucets and certain problems are more challenging to repair than others. At Hays Cooling, Heating & Plumbing, we provide dependable repairs throughout the Phoenix area. Schedule service online or call 602-362-7917 for assistance.

About the Author

Chris Hays

Founder of Hays Cooling, Heating & Plumbing

Chris and Stacia Hays, are the founders of Hays Cooling, Heating & Plumbing; a family operated HVAC company in Phoenix founded in 2001 that services both commercial and residential customers. Chris leads a team of certified technicians who have over 45 years of combined experience and has earned and A+ rating with the BBB and a strong five star rating online. Hays Cooling, Heating & Plumbing focuses on providing support to their customers every step of the way, with exceptional service and competitive prices. If you are looking for top-notch air conditioning and heating service, contact Hays today.