A leaky shower head can create one of the most annoying bathroom sounds you can experience.
But, while the constant “drip, drip, dripping” is a nuisance for your ears, it can also be a bit of a pain on your wallet too.
For example – Did you know that a shower head that drips 10 times a minute can waste nearly 4-and-a-half litres of water per day?
That equates to over 1,600 litres per year!
Thankfully, a leak in your shower head can usually be very simple to fix.
And, in this guide we’ll show you how to do it.
But first, let’s explore what the leak in your shower head is and why it is leaking.
Why is my shower head leaking?
There are a range of causes for your shower head to leak.
It may be that your shower head requires a good clean because dirt and limescale build up is affecting the flow of water.
This can sometimes lead to blockages that can result in annoying shower head leaks.
But, usually, a dripping shower head is caused by worn out or damaged inner seals and washers.
These rubber seals (known as O-rings) in your shower head act as the barrier between your shower hose or ceiling arm, and prevent water from leaking out when your shower is in use.
Just like most things that are in regular use, these O-rings can wear down and degrade over time and will eventually cause your shower head to leak if not replaced.
What is a leaky shower head and why is it leaking?
A leak from the shower can be identified in two ways; a constant drip you can either see or hear coming from the shower head or arm.
A leaky shower head can be a nuisance for many reasons.
The first is the irritating drip drip drip on loop. The second is how much water is wasted. Those drips that are sending you close to insanity is your money going down the drain.
So, what causes a leaky shower head? If the water is dripping from the shower faceplate, I am happy to say that there are a few (fixable) reasons why it could be leaking, and that can be resolved without a plumber – hooray!
It’s a process of elimination, so the first thing you should check is, ‘Is my shower head blocked?’ in our easy-to-read step-by-step guide.
Fixing A Blocked Showerhead
Step One – Turn off the water
Before doing anything, you should shut off the water to avoid any unwanted squirts.
Turn off the water supply to stop any unwanted leaks and squirts.
The inside stop tap is usually found under the kitchen sink or can be found in the airing cupboard.
Turn off the water by turning the valve clockwise.
Step Two – Clean shower head
Give your shower faucet a thorough clean to ensure there isn’t a build-up of dirt and debris clogging the shower nozzles.
Step Three – Deep Clean
For more of a deep clean, remove the shower head from the hose. Keep nuts and bolts you have loosened safe, including the rubber washer.
Now soak your shower head in white vinegar for at least an hour to maximum clean.
Rinse with warm water and finish off with a toothbrush to get into the nook and crannies of the shower nozzles.
Avoid using any strong chemicals as they can damage your shower head.
Once clean, test the shower and see if it has resolved the dripping issue.
If not, don’t worry, your cleaning efforts haven’t gone to waste – it’s recommended to give your shower head a good clean every couple of months to keep it in the best working order.
Fix a leaking shower by replacing the rubber washer
Moving on to the next reason, shower head leaks are commonly caused by damaged inner seals. The rubbed washers/ O-rings in your shower act as a seal between your shower head and hose, stopping water leaks. However, over time they can wear down and water can seep through causing a leak.
Your rubber washer is a component in your shower that prevents leaks between the hose and shower head.
To stop the leak the washer needs to be replaced and here’s how you can do it.
Step One – Remove the rubber washer
Start off by taking the shower head apart. It’s a good idea to have a towel handy when you start to dismantle the shower in case of trapped water might seep. Each shower head will be slightly different depending on the brand but there should be a collar or hex nut that you need to unscrew.
Protect the fixture with a rag and using a wrench, loosen the collar nut. Once completely loose, this should have separated the shower head from the arm. Removing the handle, look beneath the shower heads and find a metal ball fixture that is attached directly to the shower head, which enables the shower to move around.
Step Two – Replace the rubber washer
Once you have found the old rubber washer pull it off and replace it. To ensure the new washer works properly we would recommend taking the old one to your local hardware store to ensure you bring home an exact match.
If you’ve followed the steps above and your shower is still leaking, it’s time to turn your attention to your shower valves.
How to fix a leaky shower head valve?
Step One – Turn your water supply back on
Step Two – identify which valve is leaking
If you have two separate valves for hot and cold water, you will need to figure out which tap is leaking. You can do this by feeling the temperature of the dripping water. Now that you know which valve is leaking turn your water supply back off to stop the water flow.
Step Three – Replace the valve rubber washer
Carefully unscrew and remove the faucet handle and you should find the washer/ O-ring. If the rubber washer looks old, worn, or damaged, replace it with an exact match. Put everything back together, ensure the hex nut is sealed back tight (if there is one), and turn on your water supply.
If none of these steps have worked and resolved the leak issue, we’re afraid it’s time to call in a plumber.
Professional Plumber Tips
When something isn’t working as it should we tend to panic and call our plumber. To avoid you having to pay for your plumber’s time we have noted down the most asked questions when it comes to leaky shower heads.
Is it normal for my shower to drip after use?
Your plumber will tell you that it is normal and no cause for concern if your shower head drips for a few minutes straight after being used.
This happens because even though you have turned off your shower from the valve, there is still a build-up of water that needs to get out and therefore will drip for a short period after use.
What is the most common cause of a leaking shower head?
The most common cause of a leaking shower head is a damaged or worn water-rubbed washer/ o- ring. This is an easy fix, and the work can be carried out by homeowners as it requires no skill to change one.
Can my leaky shower head be fixed, or will I have to buy a new one?
More often than not you should be able to resolve the issue of a dripping showerhead by either soaking the head in white vinegar for a deep clean or by changing the washer.
If neither work, it could be time to call your local plumber to ensure the leak isn’t coming from elsewhere and may require a skilled eye to solve the issue.
Buying a new showerhead should be your last resort and trying less cost-effective ways to tackle the problem should be carried out first.
We hope this easy-to-read article has helped and answered your ‘how to fix a leaky shower head’ query.
Rikki has a passion for interior design and an even bigger passion for writing about it. When she isn’t writing about gorgeous bathroom interiors, you’ll find her discovering all of the latest trends.