A showerhead should be as high as is necessary to accommodate the tallest member of your family. No minimum showerhead height is mandated by plumbing codes. However, a showerhead height of about 80 inches will suffice for most people. To change the height of an existing showerhead, install a shower arm extension.
Average Height of Showerheads
International plumbing codes specify the measurements of many aspects of a shower but not the height of a showerhead. It is completely up to the homeowner to determine the most comfortable height for the family. However, most showerheads sit 80 to 84 inches above the floor of the shower. Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the average American man is 69 inches tall (6 inches taller than the average American woman), this showerhead height provides about 1 foot of clearance.
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Other factors affecting the height of the showerhead include where the shower pipe emerges from the wall and the design of the shower arm. Most showerheads come with their own shower arm, which often angles downward. This means the height of the shower pipe isn't necessarily the final height of the showerhead.
Special Considerations for Showerhead Heights
The height of a showerhead also depends on its style. For example, handheld showerheads may need to be installed a little lower than other showerheads so that they remain accessible to everyone in the family. The same logic applies to adjustable showerheads; ideally, everyone in the family should be able to reach the showerhead to adjust the water flow as needed.
On the other hand, a rain showerhead produces a greater "rainfall" effect if it's located as high as possible. Consider the height of massaging showerheads or body sprays so that the water will land on the user's shoulders and lower back sufficiently.
Changing the Height of a Showerhead
Is your showerhead an uncomfortable height? Fortunately, you don't need to open up your shower wall or even call a plumber to change it. Instead, replace the current shower arm (the short pipe connecting the showerhead to the water pipe in the wall) with a model that fits your needs.
Some shower arm extensions are adjustable, allowing family members with different heights or preferences to customize their shower experience. Others are S-shaped to permanently raise the height of the showerhead. You can also find straight extensions for more subtle changes to the existing shower arm.
Installing a New Shower Arm
To install a new shower arm, unscrew the showerhead and set it aside. Slide the escutcheon off the shower arm. Use a wrench (if needed) to twist the shower arm counterclockwise to loosen and remove it.
Wrap plumber's tape around the pipe threads and then screw the new shower arm to the pipe protruding from the wall. Slide the escutcheon over the shower arm until it's snug against the wall. Then, screw the showerhead to the arm.
Some shower arms are designed to attach to your existing shower arm. Simply unscrew the showerhead, screw on the shower arm extension and attach the showerhead to the extension.