How to Fix a Leaky Shower Head – A Thorough Guide

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Even if your shower head leaks just a few drops of water, this is not something you would want to live with. Over time, even a minor leak can cause unnecessary deposits and buildups in the shower head, which could lead to even worse leaks.

Furthermore, if you keep your shower head mounted on the wall, the leaks will lead to the formation of mildew. And, if you live in an area with hard water and your house doesn’t have a proper water filtration system, continuous leaks can affect the integrity of your tiles. Not to mention the extra cash you’ll have to cough up on every bill.

Figuring out the Issue

Before you start applying the fixes laid out in this article, you should first figure out what the root of your problems is. Why is your shower head leaking? The why is always tied to the type of leak you have.

If your shower head leaks periodically, then the problem lies with your shower head. It could be clogged or some of its components may be faulty.

If your shower head drips water continuously, even though the faucet is shut off, then the problem may be in your faucet.

Once you’ve narrowed it down, you should turn off your bathroom water supply. Do this instead of turning off the main water supply. Why? Because, as you’re performing maintenance in your shower, you’ll need to turn the water back on and off a few times to test the fix.

Soak the Shower Head

One of the reasons why your shower head may be leaking is because parts of it are clogged. This could cause water to get trapped above the clogs and slowly leak into your shower or on your wall tiles.

Soaking the shower head is something you can and should do periodically to make sure it’s free of mineral deposits and gunk. Use a solution of white vinegar and coarse salt. Immerse the shower head in it for about eight hours.

This should give the vinegar enough time to dissolve most clogs and buildups. Whatever the vinegar can’t handle, you could try to get it out using a toothpick. Simply stick it through the holes in the shower head and scrape off all that’s left inside.

Replace the Diverter Valve

This is actually less scary than it sounds. If you have a knob- or lever-style diverter you’ll have to unscrew and remove the faucet handle. Then, you’ll have to disassemble the entire valve system. Most of the modern valve assemblies are easy to take apart without tools.

Look for the signs of wear and tear. If you spot any, don’t just change one piece. Instead, change the entire valve assembly.

If you have the diverter on the faucet, you may have to unscrew and remove the whole faucet. Look for a rubber washer after taking it apart. If it’s damaged, you should replace it.

Inspect Rubber Washers

Some faucets have the two-handle design. If that’s the case, then you’ll have to inspect both rubber washers inside it. Some people will tell you to check the water temperature to figure out what type of leak you have – cold or hot water. However, even when you’re experiencing a leak on the hot water line, with the faucet switched to off, the water that drips will be cold.

Replace the Cartridge Valve

Sometimes, if your shower head is leaking the problem may not be a faulty shower head but actually a faulty faucet. A calcified cartridge can easily cause leaking problems. If that’s the case, the solution is simple –replace the faulty cartridge valve.

In order to do this, you’ll have to remove the faucet handle first. Some can be pried loose but others will have to be unscrewed. Doing this exposes the cartridge stem. Depending on the model, you may have to unscrew the cartridge.

But, more often than not, you can just pry the cartridge loose. Twist the cartridge and pull it out with your hands or a pair of pliers. If it’s been seriously calcified, break it to pieces with your pliers or a screwdriver.

Look for an identical one to replace it. There’s no maintenance that you can do on cartridges to fix them.

Do It Yourself

Performing maintenance on a shower head or faucet is something that everyone can do. You don’t need special tools or expert knowledge to fix some of the most common issues. You’ll want to avoid calling in a professional for something as simple as a leaky shower head because the fees are often unjustifiably high.

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