How to Replace a Showerhead Arm

What You'll Need
Replacement shower head arm
Vise grips
Adjustable pipe wrench
Plumbing tape
Plumber's compound
Waterproof caulking and caulk gun
Limescale remover
Large aluminum or steel bowl
Rubber gloves
Eye protection
WD-40(TM) lubricant

Replace the shower head arm in your bathroom when you upgrade the shower head, or replace just the arm because it no longer functions well. Follow these tips to replace your shower head arm, while avoiding common mistakes in the process.

Step 1 - Turn Off the Water Supply to the Shower Unit

Turn off the shower's water supply with its own valve, or shut off the water to the bathroom or the whole house.

Step 2 - Detach the Shower Head

It is much easier to remove the shower arm from the wall if you take off the showerhead first. You can reuse the shower head, or put on a complete new shower arm and head set. Use the vise grip to immobilize the shower arm while you turn the shower head ring nut with a pipe wrench. Immerse the shower head in an aluminum bowl filled with vinegar to loosen any scale around it, if stuck. Cover the gripper teeth of the pipe wrench with a rag or hand towel to avoid scratching the shower head ring nut.

Step 3 - Inspect the Showerhead Arm

Check the tile around the top of the old showerhead arm for cracks and leaks. Replace the tiles after you replace the shower arm. Clean any scale, mold or mildew from around the shower head arm to make it easier to turn.

Step 4 - Pull the Old Shower Arm From the Wall

Clamp your longest adjustable pipe wrench around the shower arm for best leverage. Turn the pipe wrench anti-clockwise to release the shower arm. Keep it just above the tiles so you do not crack or smash them as you turn the wrench. If the old shower arm is fast in the wall, soak it with WD-40 for 2 hours, then try again.

Step 5 - Compare the Old and New Shower Arm

Make sure you have a new shower tap arm in the correct size for your plumbing system. It will fit either a 0.5-inch pipe or a 0.75-inch pipe. Before inserting it, line the threaded end with a few layers of Teflon plumbing tape. If tape is not available, apply plumber's compound to make a waterproof seal for the shower arm. Insert the new shower arm's threaded end and turn it clockwise to install it tightly.

Step 6 - Attach the Old or New Showerhead

Cover the threads at the spigot end of the new shower arm with plumbing compound or plumber's tape. Insert the threaded end of the shower head and turn clockwise until snug, then make an additional half-turn.

Step 7 - Restore the Water and Test the New Arm

Turn the water supply back on for the shower. Turn on the bathtub taps or shower controller and activate the water diverter until water comes through the shower arm and head. Turn the showerhead and arm a little further clockwise to tighten them, if any leaks appear.