Ed the Plumber: How to replace your old showerhead.

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I was recently watching one of the major network morning shows, and they did a story on old, crusty showerheads and how it may be a good idea to replace a dirty showerhead with a new, high-quality showerhead. I’m not a doctor so I won’t go into any health aspects of this story, but from a plumber’s point of view, I can tell you that installing a new showerhead is always a good idea and a fairly easy process. With that in mind, I’d like to share with you my showerhead-changing tips from my book “Ed Del Grande’s House Call”:

Replacing a Showerhead

Along with a new showerhead, you’ll need an adjustable wrench, two pairs of slip joint pliers, Teflon tape and electrical tape.

How to remove the old showerhead. Wrap a small amount of electrical tape around the teeth of the slip joint pliers to help prevent scratching of the chrome shower-arm pipe coming out of the wall. Keep the chrome shower-arm pipe from spinning by supporting it with the slip joint pliers. This is a trick plumbers call “backing off,” and it should prevent the pipe from moving. You’ll be removing the showerhead from the chrome shower-arm pipe by turning it counterclockwise with the adjustable wrench. Size and place the adjustable wrench in the flat slot of the showerhead threaded fitting. If there is no slot on your present showerhead fitting, use the second pair of slip joint pliers to remove the showerhead threaded fitting. With a good, strong grip on both wrenches, slowly turn the old showerhead counterclockwise while holding the chrome shower-arm pipe firmly in place. Keep turning the showerhead fitting by resetting the wrench when necessary. Once the showerhead is loose enough to turn by hand, set the tools aside and finish the removal by hand.

Installing the new showerhead is even easier. Make sure the chrome shower-arm threads are clean and apply a few turns of Teflon tape to the threads of the arm, following the direction of the threads; this should be clockwise. Now prep your new showerhead according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This may include inserting washers or filter screens needed for installation. With a good hold on the showerhead, start turning the head’s threaded fitting, clockwise as well, onto the chrome shower-arm threads by hand. Once snug, place the “back off”pliers back on to the shower-arm pipe to hold it in place. Now continue to tighten the new showerhead fitting with the adjustable wrench. Once the head fitting is tightened up on the shower arm, remove any excess strands of Teflon tape and polish the chrome arm and head with a rag.

Ed’s pro tip: Remember, it’s best not to over-tighten the threaded fitting at this stage, as you can always snug up the fitting later on, if you see any drips. Also, if you visit www.savewateramerica.com (click on “water-saving ideas”), you can actually view me installing a showerhead step by step.

If you don’t feel confident doing it yourself, or if your chrome shower-arm pipe coming out of the wall looks old and rusted, it’s usually just a quick service call for a plumber to come in for this job. I do recommend that you go to the plumbing supply house to pick out your own showerhead. Take along family members for their suggestions; this way you can shower them with a gift that everyone will enjoy!

Master Contractor/Plumber Ed Del Grande is known as the author of the book “Ed Del Grande’s House Call” and for hosting TV shows on Scripps Networks and HGTVPro.com. For information visit eddelgrande.com or write eddelgrande@hgtvpro.com. Always consult local contractors and codes.