A builder's guide for the home renovator

A Guide to Replacing a Shower Head to Improve Water Pressure

Whether you’re dealing with poor water pressure in your shower or simply updating the appearance of your bathroom, changing the shower head is a task that you can confidently take on. I’ll guide you through and explain some reasons for low water pressure in showers.

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I'm showing how the shower head should be screwed clockwise by hand
Don't screw the shower head on too tightly - you don't want to damage the washer

Troubleshooting

Why does a shower have low water pressure?

Mineral build up due to hard water and washers needing to be replaced are 2 common causes.

  • Mineral deposits like calcium build up inside the showerhead and restrict the flow of water. This is a common issue in areas with hard* water.
  • Rubber washers deteriorate and lose elasticity. There are rubber washers on both ends of the hose. One connects to the shower head, and the other connects to the outlet on the wall.

By changing the showerhead and hose you can get better flow and you’ll be amazed how much more water you’ll have to enjoy when you’re under the shower.

What's hard water'?

The definition of ‘hard water’ is water that has a high dissolved mineral content, typically calcium and magnesium.

 

When water ‘percolates’, (or flows through), deposits of limestone, chalk or gypsum which are to a large extent calcium and magnesium carbonates, bicarbonates and sulfates, levels of dissolved mineral content is left behind.

 

This mineral content is measured in grains per gallon (gpg). 1 grain = .002 ounces of calcium carbonate dissolved in 1 gallon of water. Water is considered soft if it measures below 3 gpg; moderately hard 3-7 gpg; hard 7-10, and greater than 10 gpg is very hard water.

 

Over time limescale builds up which you’ll notice in household appliances like kettles and coffee machines and inside plumbing and showers.

 

Hard water reduces water pressure and flow in showers.

How much does it cost to replace a shower head?

Upwards of AUD $99 – $120 for a tradesman call-out fee + an hourly labor charge + whatever the plumber charges you to buy a shower head. The cost will vary depending on where you live. (Prices are based on quotes at time of writing.)

 

The costs add up for a simple job and provide plenty of incentive to DIY. You can save hundreds of dollars doing this job yourself.

How To Replace a Shower Head

Step 1

Remove the old shower head.

Unscrew the shower hose where it meets the wall. You should be able to do this by hand. Unscrew in an anti-clockwise direction.

 

It should be possible to unscrew with your hands, but if it’s been some time you may need to use an adjustable shifting spanner.

 

Step 2

Source a new shower head.

Trade Tip

When choosing a new shower head, ensure it aligns with the threaded outlet in the tiles where it will be installed. Whether you’re shopping at a local hardware store or online, I recommend that you take your existing shower head and hose, (or have a photo of it), to guarantee a compatible replacement that fits seamlessly.

Step 3

Take the new showerhead and hose and screw the hose on to the showerhead then on to the outlet on the wall in a clockwise direction. Secure it firmly, by hand.

 

There’s no need to go overboard with tightening. You shouldn’t have to use a shifting spanner.

Important

The shower head has a rubber washer inside that seals and stops the water from leaking out. It should only be screwed on by hand. Don’t use a shifting spanner. Screwing it on too tightly could damage the washer. 

 

Simple changes like replacing the shower head can add a touch of sparkle when you’re refreshing a ‘tired’ bathroom on a tight budget.

Resources for further reading

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