With a master's in sustainable development, Susette helps Southern California water agencies carry out their water conservation projects.
In at least 50% of the apartments I've lived in, there's been something less than desirable about the showerhead. Because I'm tallish, usually the problem was a showerhead that was too low. But I've also had one that was too close to the wall so that I couldn't use my hanging wire shelf for shampoo, etc. And now I have a handheld shower head with no holder––very frustrating!
If you are in that situation too, here are some ways you can perfect the location of your showerheads, no matter how many there are or how picky the person you're living with.
A showerhead has three main pieces: the head itself, a shower arm, and a round flange that hides the hole in the wall.
Shower Arm Riser or Extension
Is it possible to raise the showerhead higher? Yes it is, and it's easy. It's also easy to extend the showerhead out further if it's too close to the wall. The procedure is the same in both cases. Here are the reasons someone might want to raise a showerhead higher:
- You have to duck down to wash or rinse your hair every time.
- You want to install a chlorine filter above the showerhead, but that will lower it too much.
- You have a new boyfriend (or girlfriend) basketball star.
Here are reasons to extend your showerhead:
- You have a shampoo/soap shelf unit that hangs from the shower arm, but there's no room.
- You keep bumping into the wall or tripping over the faucet when you shower.
- Your bathtub is really long, but when you shower, you're scrunched up against one end of it.
The first step to raising or extending your showerhead is to identify the pieces, then buy what you need. At your nearest plumbing or hardware store look for the shower section or ask someone for help. Some new showerheads come with an arm and flange as well, but as long as your showerhead and flange are OK, you'll want to buy the shower arm only.
How to Replace a Shower Arm
Once you have your shower arm and are ready to replace it, do the following:
- Gather the materials you need: Shower arm, utility knife, crescent wrench, soft cloth, plumber's tape, joint compound.
- Loosen the shower arm flange: The flange is that round, shiny part right up against the wall that the shower arm goes through. It blocks the hole in the wall and is held on by an adhesive foam and/or caulk around the edge. Using the utility knife, cut around the edge of the flange to loosen it. Pull it away from the wall.
- Unscrew the existing shower arm: If you can't do it by hand, then use the wrench to turn the shower arm to the left (counterclockwise). It should unscrew just inside the wall.
- Insert the new shower arm: Wrap a couple of rounds of plumber's tape on the threads of the pipe on both ends. Take the flange off the old shower arm and slip it over the new one. Now screw the new shower arm into the same pipe the old one came out of.
- Move the showerhead to the new arm: Use the wrench to twist the shower head off the old arm. (Be sure to protect the chrome with the soft cloth.) Turn counterclockwise. To insert the showerhead onto the new shower arm, turn to the right (clockwise). Tighten up with the wrench.
- Test for leaks: With the flange still loose, turn the water on to make sure nothing leaks. Check the joint inside the wall and also the showerhead.
- Fasten the flange to the wall: Apply caulk to the edge of the wall around the hole. Push the flange up against it and hold it in place. With a wet cloth, clean anything that squishes out from behind it. After a moment you can let go.
- Clean and polish everything: Using a soft, wet cloth clean all the chrome. Be careful with the flange to make sure you don't dislodge it until it's dry. Let it dry for 24 hours before using the shower.
Now you can shower in comfort, having plenty of room to move. Note that if you live with someone short, who resists your raising the showerhead, you can install a diverter valve to give you two showerheads at different heights (see below).
Extension Arm for Rain Showerheads
If you want to install a rain showerhead, there is an adjustable extension arm that lets you place the showerhead directly over you facing down. (Most showerheads face out.) It's adjustable in two places: near the wall and next to the showerhead. You install it in the same way as described above.
Because the rain showerhead is positioned differently from regular showerheads, when you buy a new one it usually comes with the extension arm and flange included in the package. If you are replacing an old rain showerhead, be sure to pick a package without the other two items inside.
You can also add a chlorine filter to reduce the toxic gases that you breathe in during a shower. The filter would go between the adjustment knob and the showerhead (bottom photo). Because a filter lowers the showerhead, you will then want to adjust the right knob to raise all of it up higher (top photo).
Additional Shower Attachments You Can Try Out
|Item||What It Does||Where Does It Go|
Reduces water flow.
Fits above or in the showerhead, itself.
Allows for two showerheads on the same arm.
Screws onto the shower arm above the showerhead.
Mounts a hand held showerhead.
Fastens onto the wall.
Allows hand held showerhead to replace a regular one.
Screws onto the end of the shower arm.
Removes chlorine from the water.
Replaces the showerhead or screws onto the shower arm above it.
Installing a New Shower Arm & Showerhead
This excellent video shows the whole process of replacing a showerhead, in case you need a visual how-to. If this were me, I would be installing a longer shower arm than what he is using. I just don't like being backed up against the wall when I shower.
Caution: Make sure you're barefoot when you test for leaks.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2014 Susette Horspool