Is Your Shower Head Leaking? Try These Easy Fixes

By: Fix-It Club & Yara Simón  | 
Close up image of water flowing from a shower head.
A faulty shower head can be annoying. Kseniya Ovchinnikova / Getty Images

Shower head leaking? That's definitely annoying but not the end of the world. Shower heads are subject to several problems when it comes to leaks. They can occur where the head connects to the shower arm or between the shower head body and the swivel ball.

Learn how to address a dripping shower head.


Remove Your Shower Head

Your first step is to remove the leaking shower head so you can correctly assess the situation. Sometimes problems happen because of grit or sediment lodged in the shower head or a buildup of scale or mineral deposits.

Remove the shower head at the swivel ball and clean. Some parts will need scraping; others, you'll have to soak in white vinegar. (You can also use cleaning vinegar, but keep an eye on the soak to make sure the more acetic liquid doesn't dissolve more than the grime.) This process will improve water flow and allow you to better gauge why you have a leak.


Check the Shower Arm

A shower arm is a pipe that connects the shower head to the water supply. Shower arms come in various lengths, styles and materials, such as brass or stainless steel to resist corrosion. Some shower arms are straight, while others have bends or curves to position the shower head in a specific way.

They are essential for delivering hot and cold water from the water supply to the shower head and play a role in determining the overall aesthetics and functionality of the shower setup. It only takes a few steps to fix a shower arm leak.


What You'll Need

Your local hardware store carries all the tools required for fixing a shower head leak at the arm connection:

  • Adjustable wrenches or strap wrenches
  • Plumbers' joint compound or tape

Fixing a Shower Arm Leak

Follow these steps if the shower head arm connection leaks.

  1. Unscrew the shower arm from the pipe with strap wrenches. If you use a different wrench, tape the pipe to avoid scratching it.
  2. Clean shower arm threads wrap and coat them with plumbers' joint compound or wrap plumbers' joint tape around them.
  3. Screw head back on and hand-tighten it. Remove any excess compound or tape.

If your issue lies with a leak at the swivel part of your shower head, check out the next section.


Check Rubber Washers

A washer is a small, flat and often round piece of rubber or other flexible material that serves as a sealing element. Rubber washers are necessary for plumbing connections.

In your shower, you will find washers in places where different components connect, such as between the shower arm and the shower head or between the shower am and the water supply pipe. A rubber washer helps create a watertight seal, preventing water from leaking out at these connection points.


Over time, washers may wear out or become damaged, leading to leaks. Replacing worn-out washers is a common and simple maintenance task that can resolve leaking issues in a shower. Take your worn-out washers to the store to ensure you buy the correct size.

Check the Shower Head Swivel

The swivel feature allows the user to adjust the angle and direction of the water spray, providing greater flexibility and customization during a shower. This feature is particularly useful for accommodating different user preferences and ensuring that one can direct the water where it's most comfortable.

You can typically find the swivel mechanism between the shower head and the shower arm, allowing for horizontal rotation. Some shower heads also have a vertical swivel, providing additional flexibility in adjusting the height and angle of the water spray. The degree of swivel capability can vary among different shower head models.


You can easily address swivel leaks.

What You'll Need

Here are the tools for fixing a shower head leak at the swivel:

  • Adjustable wrenches
  • Replacement O-ring or other seal

Fixing Leak at the Swivel

Follow these basic instructions if the culprit of your leaky shower head is the swivel.

  1. Unscrew shower head from swivel-ball ring.
  2. Find O-ring (a ring that prevents water from oozing out) or similar seal inside. Replace it, and screw shower head back into place.


Get a New Shower Head

Sometimes the solution is even simpler: You need a new shower head. Appliances experience wear and tear, and you will likely have to replace them at one point or another.


Other Bathroom Leaks

You may have other leaks in your shower. For example, the leak could come from your shower faucet. Problems with the faucet washer, shower valve or your shower cartridge can affect your tub spout.

This article was updated in conjunction with AI technology, then fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.