A shower head is usually screwed on the shower arm either by hand or using a wrench, but removing it is quite easy. With time however, mineral deposits or rust may attack the shower head-arm connection making it stuck and unable to come off.
If you find that you cannot unscrew your shower head, it is stuck. This is caused by rust or mineral deposits, especially calcium. Soaking the shower head connection with vinegar or spraying it with a penetrating oil will help loosen it making it easy to unscrew.
There are several methods you can use to remove a stuck shower head but the risk is that if you turn it too aggressively you may as well loosen the shower arm from the water supply pipe. When that happens, you will have water leaking inside your bathroom wall.
The best way to remove a stuck shower head is to sock it in a plastic bag full of vinegar or douche it with a penetrating oil. Attempt to remove the shower head after 2 or more hours hours. If this does not work, remove both the shower arm and the shower head.
A great way way to remove a shower head without using a wrench is by first soaking it in a plastic bag full of vinegar or spraying the connection with a penetrating oil. After about 2 hours, grab the shower head with your hand and turn it counterclockwise.
If you live in area with hard water, it is highly likely that your shower head will be stuck on the shower arm. The finish on the shower head and arm will also start to peel off with time, and as result rust will form on the connection and hence a stuck shower head.
While glue is not usually used to install shower heads, if you suspect your shower head is glued on the shower arm, disconnect the shower arm from the wall and replace both. A shower head and arm are both cheap and easy to replace.
How to Remove a Stuck Shower Head
While installing a shower head, Teflon tape is applied on the shower arm’s threads to make the connection watertight. While you don’t need to make the connection crazy tight, such is unavoidable especially when repairs are done by inexperienced homeowners.
The 3 main causes why your shower head is stuck is due to overtightening, rust or build up of mineral deposits. In very rare cases the shower head will be glued on the shower arm.
The following are the 4 ways of removing a stuck shower head.
1. Use a Long Pipe Wrench
In most cases, you should be able to just twist and unscrew a shower head from a shower arm. If the connection is however too tight, a pair of pliers will do the trick.
Just grab the shower head connector with the pliers and turn it counterclockwise. If however the shower head is stuck, this will not work. You will need leverage. That will come in the form of a long pipe wrench.
The problem with using a pipe wrench in disconnecting a shower head is that you risk loosening the shower arm from the water supply pipe on the wall as well. When that happens, you will have a leak in your bathroom wall.
To prevent this from happening, you will need 2 pipe wrenches and probably an extra pair of hands. As you try to loosen the shower head connector with one wrench, use the other one to back off on the shower arm to make sure it does not move.
In most of the time this procedure will work perfectly well. To avoid burring the shower head connector and shower arm, I suggest you wrap electrical tape (duct tape or a piece or rag/emery cloth will also work) on the shower head connector and arm.
2. Soak the Shower Head in Vinegar
For a shower head-arm connection that is corroded or with mineral deposits built-in, white vinegar is a fantastic product for dissolving the minerals and rust.
- Fill a plastic bag with white vinegar up to the ½ full level.
- Introduce the shower head inside the vinegar.
- Secure the bad with a rubber band on the shower arm
- Make sure that the shower head-arm connection is fully submerged in the vinegar.
- Wait for about 2 hours or preferably longer if you have the time.
- Use a wrench to disconnect the shower head.
If you have a hand-held shower head just pour the vinegar in a large bowl and insert the shower head inside.
This is the method you should also use when you have low water pressure in your shower. The vinegar cleans the shower head by dissolving the minerals deposits blocking the nozzles.
3. Spray the Shower Head Connection with Penetrating Oil
Another great way to loosen a stuck shower head is by douching it with a penetrating oil or a lubricant like WD-40. As its name suggests, the penetrating oil penetrates through the connection breaking up the rust and mineral buildup making it easy to remove the shower head.
Grab a can of penetrating oil and generously spray around the shower head-arm connection. You will need to do it a couple of times and give it time before attempting to loosen the shower head.
After spraying the oil a couple of times, grab a wrench or a pair of pliers and attempt to unscrew the shower head again.
If the 3 methods outlined above do not work or you suspect your shower head is glued on the shower arm, there is still one more thing you can do. And you may end up liking it a lot.
4. Remove the Shower Arm and Head
The shower arm is the piece of pipe connecting the shower head to the water supply line on the wall. There are different types of shower arms as I outlined in this post but removing them is the same.
There is a pipe inside the wall which delivers water to your shower head and where the shower arm is threaded on. Before attempting to remove the shower arm, make sure that the shower faucet is turned off.
If you initially wanted to replace your old shower head, this method gives you the opportunity to replace both the shower head and the shower arm. Both are really cheap in any way.
Here is how to remove a shower arm:
- Start by freeing the shower arm flange. The flange will either be caulked on the wall or secured on the arm using a screw. Cut through the caulk using a putty knife or remove the screw with a screwdriver.
- Grab the shower arm with a wrench and turn it counterclockwise to loosen it. Once loose grab the shower head and use it as leverage to unscrew it.
- With the shower arm and head out, you can decide to replace both of them or clean the shower head with vinegar and install them back.
I have written a detailed guide on how to install a shower head and a shower arm. Read it here.