How to Change a Fixed Shower Head to Handheld

A shower head is an essential part of your bathroom and you can have the design that is to your liking, taste, and meets your bathroom needs.

There are many models of both fixed and handheld shower heads meeting different needs for various individuals. You can acquire one with low water pressure or a high one depending on how you like to have your showers.

However, if you do not fancy a fixed shower head and it is the one you have in your bathroom, it can be easily converted to a handheld one.

Fixed Shower Head

A fixed shower head is also known as a wall-mounted shower head. It is attached to the shower arm that emerges from the wall.

The type is easy to use and quite reliable since you are able to shower while both of your hands are free from holding the shower head.

The shower head can be exchanged by unscrewing the old or defective one and screwing a new one in its place. Hold on to the shower arm during the process to prevent it from breaking.

Fixed shower heads come with different varieties of features such as rain, massage, and water-saving features.

Handheld Shower Head

A handheld shower head is a smart idea when you need to use the shower head at a close range such as teaching your child to use the shower head without assistance or showering your dog.

The handheld shower head connects to a long hose and when being used it sits in a cradle in the hand.

A handheld shower head can be utilized as a fixed shower head, but when it is taken off the cradle its usage will be more diversified such as cleaning the tub, washing children, and bathing pets.

The shower heads exist in various hose lengths but those that meet ADA compliance are at least 84 inches long.

How to Convert Fixed Shower Head to Handheld

Preparation and getting started: for you to convert your fixed shower head into a handheld one successfully, you have to ensure that the handheld version is compatible with the holder bracket installed in your bathroom wall.

After sorting out the compatibility issues gather the tools needed for the job such as adjustable pliers, adjustable wrench, and plumber’s tape.

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The Procedure

Take off the old shower head: when changing the old shower head it is essential that the chrome is protected. Take a piece of tape and have it wrapped around the teeth of your pliers so that the metal is protected.

That will ensure that you have the pressure required while the pliers’ edges remain smooth.

Use the protected pliers to remove your old shower head. Turn it counterclockwise until the shower head comes off.

Alternatively, you can use an adjustable wrench but you have to wrap a piece of cloth around it to protect the chrome from any damage.

Clean the shower threads and remove limescale: thoroughly clean the non-changing components of rust and dust.

Make use of vinegar in removing limescale from the arm of the shower to prevent any spreads to the newly set shower head and hose.

Whine the limescale spreads to the new installations it will limit the performance of the shower head. It will also cause water to spill in all directions from the shower head whenever the water is turned on.

Set up the bracket: take the compatible handheld shower mounting bracket and then connect it to the arm of the shower. You will notice that the bracket has a shorter side with the outlet on the side with a shower holder.

Ensure that the mount is placed correctly such that the side with the outlet faces down and the side of the holder up. Screw it on the mount and then tighten it using an adjustable wrench.

Since the bracket has an in-built rubber washer, no tape is needed. Hand tighten the new installation as much as possible.

Connect the hose: at this stage, you will notice that your hose has two endings that are different. The short end should be attached to the bracket’s appropriate side which is the shorter side that is facing downward.

The long end will be attached to the shower head.

Your hose should have in-built washers on both ends to enable you to tighten the endings of the hose to the bracket using your hands. Stretch the hose set up a little bit immediately after installing it.

Install the shower head: connect the shower head to the end of the hose that is remaining. After this, the shower head should fit perfectly on the upward side of the bracket’s holder.

If the new shower head is not standing stable in the holder there is the possibility that the bracket is not tight enough. Therefore check it in the finishing phase of the installation process.

Do a thorough check after the installation procedure: check if everything has been tightened up enough to prevent leaks. Then hang the new shower head in the new bracket.


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How often should you change your shower head?

Ideally, a shower head should be replaced after every six to eight months. The bathroom tends to have a warm and wet environment which makes it a good spot for germs.

In particular, shower heads can build up sediments from bacteria, tap water, and mold.

Shower heads are bacterial breeding grounds that can lead to respiratory illnesses. Regular cleaning can extend a shower heads life but those with a lower immunity system should be watchful.

Potentially harmful bacteria such as Ecoli and Streptococcus can lurk in every part of the shower head.

Depending on the frequent use of the shower head in your home the shower head can last longer with a monthly deep clean.

Take a sandwich bag and fill it with white vinegar and then submerge the shower head in it for an hour and rinse.

How do I know if my shower head is bad?

There are various warning signs that indicate that your shower head is bad. The first is a change in water pressure such that the water pressure has gotten weak or it wildly fluctuates.

At times the water pressure change can be attributed to the head getting lose. That can be fixed by tightening it. In other instances, the head has just simply worn out due to usage affecting how it controls water pressure.

The second is constant dripping but you need to verify that the leak is coming from the shower head. At times the dripping may be caused by washer rings that have been worn out or supply valves.

Ensure that the two are not responsible for the leak before replacing your shower head.

The third is sediment build-up that is caused by additives and chemicals that are filtered out by the shower heads.

Inside the shower heads there are screens responsible for the filtration and over time they can get dirty causing sediment build up around and in the shower head.

The fourth is black mold caused by hard water staining. Check the shower head to see if black spots have formed on its head.

Those spots are black mold which is toxic and has the capability of causing damaging effects to your health.

Why does my new shower head drip after I turn it off?

When you turn on the shower water and the shower diverter level up, the water will be directed and forced up the standpipe of the shower, then to the shower arm, and then to the shower head.

Once the shower is turned off the diverter level of the shower will be pushed down and the excess water remaining in the vertical standpipe will fall backward.

That will cause most of the water to drain to the tub and an airlock will develop in the pipe trapping water in the shower arm’s horizontal portion and in the shower head.

The air that usually helps in completely flushing out the water once the diverter level is pushed down, may the restricted by a flow restrictor in the shower head. Therefore, water will drip from the shower head when it is turned off.

The problem can be remedied by manually draining the system to stop the dripping. The procedure could be a nuisance but it only takes less than a minute.

Are all shower heads Universal?

Almost all shower heads in the United States have the same connections as the standard is half-inch NPT. That means you can place any shower head on your shower arm plumbing, whether it’s on the ceiling or the wall.

However, there are exceptions to the rule, as various threads are used in different places around the world.

Secondly, you may find showers with unconventional shower heads that you should avoid unless you plan to make substantial changes in your plumbing at home.

Examples include a rainfall shower with a ceiling installation that is too wide to hold a wall-mounted shower arm, which is common in most people’s homes.

The differences show that every shower head is not universal, even if it has some common characteristics.

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