Ball head joints in the showerhead allow it to move and swivel to adjust the water direction. Over time, these joints could rust and see damage from the water's mineral deposits, which is why many showerheads today are made with the ball joint hidden inside, protected from the water flow. Whether the ball head joint needs a cleaning or total replacement, it can be easily removed as long as it is located on the outside of the showerhead.
Removable Ball Head Joints
To remove a ball head joint, you will need adjustable pliers or a wrench, as well as a small towel or plumber's tape. If tape is available, wrap it around the teeth of the pliers or wrench so that the teeth won't dig in and damage the metal of your showerhead. If you don't have tape, holding a towel over the showerhead will also work.
A removable ball head joint is affixed to the shower arm by a nut. Adjust the pliers or wrench and secure them over the nut. Turn counterclockwise until the ball head loosens; then twist it off the shower arm's pipe threads by hand.
Removing Fixed Ball Joints
On older showerhead models, the ball head joint is on the outside attached to either the showerhead or arm, accessible for removal if needed. Sometimes the ball head joint is removable, while other times it is fixed to the shower arm. In these cases, the shower arm would have to be removed entirely to allow for ball joint removal.
Check to see if the ball head joint is secured by a nut. If it is not, it is most likely fixed to the shower arm. In this case, the entire arm will have to be removed to gain better access to the ball joint.
Tape your pliers or wrench as described above. If tape is unavailable, wet a small towel and wrap it around the shower arm to better grip and protect the metal from the tool's teeth. Adjust the pliers or wrench and secure them around the shower arm. Turn counterclockwise until the arm loosens; then remove it the rest of the way by hand.
Stuck Ball Head Joints
When the ball head joint is outside the shower fixture, it is susceptible to rust and damage from water and mineral deposits. If not maintained, the ball head joint or shower arm can get stuck.
If you've tried removing the ball head joint or shower arm with a wrench or pliers to no avail, try vinegar. White vinegar eats through rust, loosening the joint from the pipe. Fill a plastic bag with vinegar and secure it over the ball head joint or shower arm. Let it sit in the bath for several hours or overnight if needed.
Then, try removing the ball head joint again with pliers or a wrench. If the joint is still stuck, you can try another vinegar bath. Alternatively, you can try a plumbing lubricant. The ball head joint or shower arm should then be much simpler to twist right off.
Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She holds a Master of Science in Publishing from Pace University. She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing, and she enjoys writing home and DIY articles and blogs for clients in a variety of related industries. She also runs her own lifestyle blog, Sweet Frivolity.