Leaking Shower Head: How to Determine the Cause

What You'll Need
Plumbers tape
Calcium and lime build up remover
Stiff nylon bristle brush

Leaking shower heads can be exceptionally irritating. Not only do they cause a constant dripping sound, they also increase your water bill if left without repair. There are only two main causes of a leaking shower head; a worn out o-ring or lime and calcium build up. With a few items from your local home improvement store, you will be able to track down the cause of the leak and fix it. 

Step 1—Remove the Shower Head

First, you will need to check to see if the shower head is attached tightly to the pipe that comes out of the wall. If it is not attached tightly, simply tightening the shower head may stop the leaking all together. If tightening the shower head doesn’t solve the problem you will have to remove the shower head for further investigation. You’ll want to cover the shower head in a thin towel and place the wrench around the head to remove it. The towel will stop the shower head from becoming damaged. 

Step 2—Check the O-Ring

Once the shower head has been removed, the first thing you need to do is check the o-ring. The o-ring is the washer that forms a seal on the inside of the shower head. Over time, the rubber can become stiff, hard, and torn. Once this happens, the water tight seal is compromised. This is the most common cause of a leaking shower head and very easy to fix. You simply need to purchase a rubber washer in the proper size from your local home improvement store. Remove the old washer and put the new washer in place.

Step 3—Check the Inside of the Shower Head

If the o-ring is not the reason for the leaking shower head, you will need to check the inside of the shower head itself. To do this you’ll need to use a screwdriver to remove the faceplate. Once inside, you will probably find hard, white buildup clogging the water holes. This buildup comes from lime and calcium and causes your shower head to malfunction.

There are a number of lime and calcium build up removers available at your local home improvement store. Follow the manufacturer’s directions and your shower head should work perfectly. If you’d like a more natural option, you can soak your shower head in white vinegar for about 8 hours. You’ll then need to scrub it with a nylon brush in hot water. This should remove all of the build up and allow the shower head to work properly.  

Step 4—Replace the Shower Head

Once you have determined the cause of the leak and fixed it, it is time to put the shower head back on.  You’ll need to wrap the threads of the pipe with plumber’s tape. You should use a three or four layers. Next, you will screw the shower head on until you can’t turn it any more. Cover the head with a thin towel and use your wrench to tighten a bit more.