DIY Showerhead & Bathtub Faucet Installation Tips

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Upgrading the showerhead and tub faucet is a way to quickly turn a home shower into a more exciting spa shower experience. There are a lot of options today for new showerheads in the home. Some of the more interesting options include: multi-function spray showerheads, 5-inch to 10-inch rain showerheads, showerheads with up to 54 spray nozzles, and an 8-spray showerhead with a replaceable filter available to remove chlorine, dirt, and odors from the water.

With about an hour of labor, the home shower can be turned into your own in-home spa experience.

Showerhead Installation Instructions

Replacing an old showerhead is as simple as removing the old showerhead and attaching the new one to the shower arm. This article will guide you through installing a new fixed-mount, fixed-mount with hand-held, or hand-held only showerhead.

Tools Needed To Install A Showerhead:

  • Adjustable pipe wrench
  • Crescent wrench or pliers
  • Teflon tape or liquid pipe thread sealant

How To Install A Fixed Mount Showerhead

  1. Begin by unscrewing the old showerhead. Be careful not to apply so much torque to the showerhead pipe that it damages the plumbing inside the shower wall. If the showerhead nut does not come loose easily, use a pipe wrench on the shower arm, and a second wrench on the showerhead nut. Protect the finish on the shower arm by wrapping the jaws of wrenches and pliers with electrical tape or duct tape. Keep plumber’s tape from showing on the shower arm by wrapping the tape no higher than the threads. Make certain to read and take any actions recommended in the installation instructions included with the new showerhead.
  2. Rotate the showerhead or attachment nut by hand counterclockwise to remove it. If you can remove it by hand, proceed to next step. If it cannot be removed by hand, follow the steps below.
  3. Wrap the jaws of pipe wrenches or pliers with tape to protect the finish of the shower arm. Loosen the showerhead nut by rotating the nut counter clockwise. Remove the old showerhead. Clean off the shower arm threads and remove any Teflon tape or pipe sealant.
  4. Apply new Teflon tape or pipe sealant. Wrap the tape 2 or 3 times around the pipe in a clockwise direction and attach the new showerhead by rotating the showerhead or nut in a clockwise direction.
  5. Turn on the water and check for leaks. If the showerhead leaks, tighten the showerhead until there are no leaks. If leaks persist, remove the showerhead and reapply the Teflon tape or pipe sealant.

showerhead faucet installation instructions

How To Install A Hand Held Showerhead

  1. Remove the old showerhead and clean the shower arm as instructed above.
  2. Attach the hand held shower mount to the shower arm and hand-tighten. Next, connect the flexible shower hose to the mount and to the hand-held showerhead. Place the hand-held showerhead in the mount.
  3. Turn the water on and check for leaks. If a leak occurs, gently tighten the connections until the leak stops. If this is unsuccessful, remove the head and the mount, add additional Teflon tape and reassemble.

How To Install A Fixed Mount Showerhead With A Handheld

  1. Remove the old showerhead and clean the shower arm as instructed above.
  2. Attach the diverter valve that routs water to the showerhead to the shower arm and hand-tighten.
  3. Screw the fixed-mount showerhead to the end of the diverter valve in a clockwise direction and hand tighten. Next, attach the hand-held unit mount to the shower by following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Connect the flexible shower hose to the diverter valve and to the hand-held showerhead. Place the hand-held shower into the mount.
  5. Turn the water on and check for leaks. If a leak occurs, gently tighten the connections until the leak stops. If this is unsuccessful, remove the head and the mount, add additional Teflon tape and reassemble.

Bathtub Faucet Installation Instructions

Replacing a tub faucet is slightly more complicated than replacing the showerhead. It’s a good idea to get tools organized and in place before starting this part of the project.

Tools Needed To Install A Bathtub Faucet:

  • Caulk gun
  • 4-in-1 screwdriver (and hex wrench if needed)
  • Internal pipe wrench
  • Tuber cutter
  • Teflon tape or pipe sealant
  • Silicone caulk
  • Flashlight

Turning Off The Water Supply

The water supply to the tub faucet is controlled by the water valves left and right of the tub faucet. Even so, it’s a good idea to know where the main shut off valve is for the bathroom or house in case of an unexpected emergency.

How To Remove The Old Bathtub Faucet

There are 3 basic types of tub faucets. Slip-on faucet spouts, screw-on faucet spouts, and screw-on faucet spouts with threads at the back end. Of the three, the most common is the slip-on faucet spout.

Most tub faucets are held in place by a setscrew located in the underside of the faucet. Look under the faucet to locate the setscrew. Loosen the setscrew which will be a hex screw, a flat screw, or Phillips screw. Pull the faucet off the wall by gently twisting as it is pulled. Be gentle, to avoid loosening the pipe connection inside the wall. If the faucet spout doesn’t have a set screw, it is a screw-on type faucet. Twist the faucet counterclockwise to remove it.

How To Measure The Pipe To Ensure A Good Fit

Measure the pipe coming out of the wall. Make note of the size and type of pipe, copper, or galvanized steel. Some spouts slide over a ½-inch copper pipe, some are universal versions that have threads inside to screw into threaded pipe. Screw-on spouts usually have threads at the back end and come with bushings to fit either ½-inch or ¾-inch pipes. Once you’ve identified what will fit the old faucet, it’s time to purchase the new one.

How To Install A Bathtub Faucet

  1. Use emery cloth to remove any burs and sharp edges from the end of the pipe.
  2. Polish the pipe surface to a smooth, bright finish. If the new faucet comes with an adapter, slide it onto the stub-out nipple with the threads toward the wall.
  3. Lubricate the stub-out nipple tubing for about 1-inch with silicone grease.
  4. Slide the O-ring onto the stub-out nipple at least ½-inch from the end of the nipple. Next, slide the extension nipple onto the stub-out nipple and thread it onto the adapter.
  5. Align the hole in the extension nipple with the slot in the adapter. Turn clockwise and tighten the extension nipple onto the adapter until the slot in the adapter aligns with the hole in the extension nipple.
  6. Attach the retainer ring and tighten until it is secure onto the stub-out nipple. Apply 2 to 3 turns of Teflon tape in a clockwise direction and attach the new faucet spout. Tighten and check for leaks.

Always remember to consult a professional if you don’t feel comfortable installing the faucet or showerhead yourself, or if something should go wrong during the installation.

Last Updated: June 7, 2012
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About Bill Washburn William "Bill" Washburn has a BA in advertising from the Art Center College of Design and has taught at the University of Southern California and Northrup University. Writing from a well-connected studio in the rural foothills of the west coast, he is a frequent speaker at local art associations and has published numerous articles discussing periods of art history and the fundamentals of drawing and painting. William is a master gardener who grows his own culinary herbs, organic heirloom vegetables and a variety of fruits. He writes frequently about his gardening experiences on his website Pioneer Dad. He is an accomplished advertising writer, fine art painter, and art director with more than 20 years' experience. 

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