Lately, you’ve noticed that your water bill is a bit higher than usual, but you haven’t been using more water.
If you’ve seen an uptick in your utility bills without a significant change in your lifestyle or habits, a leak is most likely to blame. In some cases, that leak might be coming from your shower.
Here’s how to fix a leaky shower head and get your water bills back under control.
How to Stop a Dripping Shower Head – Give it a Cleaning
In some cases, a shower head might drip or leak not because things are loosey-goosey, but because the shower head itself is a bit dirty.
If you’ve got hard water, mineral deposits in the water can cause build up to form on the inside of the shower head over time. That buildup can block the holes in the shower head, causing the water to flow back out of faceplate, according to Bob Vila.
As a result, you end up with reduced water pressure and messier shower experience. Here’s how to fix a leaky shower head that’s caused by hard water buildup.
What you’ll need:
- Distilled white vinegar
- Plastic sandwich bag
- Twist ties or a rubber band
- Toothbrush or other small scrub brush
What to do:
- Pour the vinegar into the sandwich bag. Yes, this sounds weird, we know.
- Slide the sandwich bag over the shower head. The vinegar should completely cover the shower head, including the holes on the faceplate.
- Secure the bag to the shower head’s arm with the twist tie or rubber band. The bag will sit up there for a few hours, so make sure the rubber band or twist tie is secure.
- Let the shower head soak in the vinegar for at least an hour, or overnight if possible.
- Remove the bag from the shower head, carefully pouring out the vinegar.
- Use the toothbrush to scrub away any lingering deposits.
- Turn the shower on. Ideally, it will run perfectly, without dripping down the back. If not — read on to learn how to stop a dripping shower.
How to Stop a Leaking Shower Head – Tighten It Up
Have you ever purchased and assembled IKEA furniture? When you buy it, the instructions include a warning that you’ll need to re-tighten the screws after a few weeks of use.
But most people don’t do that, then wonder why their inexpensive Swedish furniture is so rickety.
The same thing might be the case with your shower. It likely gets used daily, but when was the last time you took a few minutes to make sure it was firmly attached?
If a loose shower head is behind your leak, figuring out how to fix it usually pretty simple. Here’s how to fix a leaky shower head that’s loose.
- Turn the water off to the shower. Turn the shower and let any water in the pipes drain out.
- Remove the shower head from the stem or arm.
- Inspect the plumbing tape. Is it worn out? Probably.
- Replace the plumbing tape with new tape. Wrapping the tape around the threads of the shower head arm will help it grip the shower head and prevent leaks.
- Screw the shower head back into place. Make sure you tightly attach the shower head to the arm to prevent more leaking.
- Turn on the water. Turn the shower on and check for continued leaks.
How to Seal a Shower Properly
While you can hope that the cause of a leaky shower is something you can fix quickly, without a trip to the hardware store, that’s not always the case.
Shower heads, like any other item in your house, can get worn out and worn down. That’s especially the case if you use your shower a lot or if a lot of people live in your house and share the same shower.
In some instances, the O-ring or washer that lives inside the shower head and is designed to form a tight seal can get worn out. If that’s what’s happening to you, then you’re going to have to replace the washer or O-ring.
Here’s how to fix a leaky shower head caused by a worn-out O-ring or washer.
- Turn the water to the shower off. Turn the shower on to let any lingering water drain out of the pipes.
- Take the shower head off of the arm or stem. You can drape a towel over the shower head as you do this, to avoid damaging or scratching the shower head.
- Find the O-ring. This should be easy to do — it’s a little rubber ring that rests on top of the part that connects the shower head to the arm.
- Remove the O-ring. Don’t throw it out! You’ll need it for the next step.
- Head to your local hardware store. Bring the O-ring with you.
- Find a replacement O-ring that’s identical from the one you took out of the shower head. Buy the replacement ring.
- Put the replacement O-ring in the shower head (once you’re back at home).
- Re-attach the shower head to the arm. Wrap the threads with plumbing tape to form a tight seal.
- Turn the water back on. Turn the shower on to test for leaks. If the leak’s gone, you’re good to go.
How to Stop a Dripping Shower When the Faucet’s to Blame
In some cases, it’s not the shower head that’s responsible for the leak. It’s the faucet. This is often the case when you’ve got a shower/bath combo and have a diverter valve that redirects the flow of water to the shower head.
Additionally, if you have two separate faucets for hot and cold water, it’s common for a washer in one of the faucets to wear out, leading to a leak.
The first step is to figure out which faucet is causing the leak or if the diverter valve is to blame. An easy way to determine if the hot or cold-water faucet is leaking is to feel the water.
If it’s hot or warm, then you’ve got a leaky washer in the hot water faucet. If it’s cold, then the cold-water faucet’s sprung a leak.
If you do have a diverter valve and the water is apparently coming from there when you run the shower, there you go — mystery solved. Replacing the entire diverter valve assembly is the way to go.
Here’s how to replace the washer in a hot or cold faucet to stop the shower from leaking:
- Turn off the water to the shower. Turn the shower on and let the last of the water flow out.
- Remove the problem faucet. You might need a socket wrench, as there’s most likely going to be a nut on the top of the washer.
- Take the washer out. Head to the hardware store and find an identical washer to replace it.
- Install the new washer, then put the faucet back together again.
- Turn the water on again. Turn the shower on to check to see if the leak’s been fixed.
How to Fix Leaking Shower Drain
Sometimes, it’s not the faucet or the shower head that’s the cause of the leak — it’s the drain. A leaky shower drain might not increase your water bill, but it can cause significant damage to your pipes, flooring, and ceiling.
Here’s how to fix a leaky shower drain.
- Turn the water off. You won’t be using the faucets, but it’s a good idea to switch off the water just in case.
- Get access to the drain. You might be able to get to the drain easily, or you might need to cut a hole in the wall.
- Find the source of the leak. This can be easy to do, as there will usually be water and other signs of damage in the area.
- Use a drain repair kit to fix the leaky section. The good thing about a drain repair kit is that usually has detailed instructions explaining how to use it. You might not need all of the components of the kit, depending on how badly the drain is damaged.
- Reassemble the drain. Turn the water back on and run it to make sure the leak is fixed.
- Patch up the wall, if needed.
Final Thoughts on How to Fix a Leaky Shower Head
Fixing a leaky shower is one of those tasks that you hope you never had to deal with. It’s also one of those tasks that you need to tackle ASAP if you do spot a leak.
Knowing how to fix a leaky shower head and how to stop a shower from leaking means, you’ll get to enjoy reasonable water bills, less waste and less wear and tear on your home.