How to Change a Showerhead

There are many schools of thought on how often to change your showerhead. Some people NEVER do, some do with near-obsessive regularity! However, when you consider that researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder conducted a study in which they analyzed showerheads from 9 different U. S. cities and discovered that almost 50% had high levels of mycobacterium avium, you might want to think about changing yours more often!

This nasty little group of bacteria can cause lung infections when inhaled or swallowed and is especially dangerous for those with compromised immune systems. Black mold and calcium deposits also build up in showerheads. Nobody wants a facefull of funk when they shower, and more studies show that cleaning the showerhead with bleach only makes the situation worse.

So, to be on the safe side, change your showerhead every 6–8 months, or at least once a year.

Now that you have decided to change your showerhead, how do you go about doing it?

  • First assemble everything that you'll need: new showerhead, Teflon® or plumber's tape (available at your local hardware store), adjustable wrench.
  • Next, turn off the water. You don't want to get drenched while working.
  • Now get ready to remove the old showerhead. Open your wrench wide enough to grip the notch and turn counter-clockwise a few times. (Remember the old saying: righty tighty, lefty-loosey?) Once it is loose enough, just finish unscrewing by hand.
  • If there is any dirt, old plumber's tape or rubber gaskets, remove it.
  • Next, wrap the threads of the pipe with a few layers of plumber's tape. It isn't super sticky, but it will adhere to the threads. Smooth out the tape with your fingers.
  • Install the replacement showerhead by hand, unless the instructions state otherwise. Turn clockwise and do not overtighten.
  • Check for leaks, and if there are none, you're finished! If there are, just tighten a little more.