Showerheads are designed to be easily installed and removed by simply screwing them on and off the shower pipe. Unfortunately, it's not always simple to take a showerhead off when you need to, as they sometimes become stuck due to calcification, mineral buildup or rust. The good news is that removing a stuck showerhead is fairly straightforward and does not require many tools.
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Preparing to Remove a Showerhead
Before you get started, lay a garbage bag or tarp down in the bathtub, situated beneath the showerhead. This will collect any falling metal and rust shavings.
Next, you should turn off the water supply to your shower. While this isn't strictly necessary for showerhead removal, it may be best to err on the side of caution if you're not used to working with plumbing.
Using a Wrench or Pliers
Start by trying to remove your showerhead by hand. If this has proven unsuccessful, there are other ways to go about your repair. Using a wrench — or pliers, if you'd prefer — ensures that you will maintain a tighter grip on the showerhead connector than you would with your hand. The handle of such tools also allows you to gain some leverage you didn't have before. Usually, using a wrench or pliers will do the trick.
First, apply plumber's tape around the teeth of your wrench or pliers. This will keep them from digging into or scratching the showerhead. Even if you plan on throwing away the old showerhead, the tape will prevent the wrench from biting off rust or metal shavings that could create a mess in your bathroom.
Tighten the wrench or pliers around the connection and turn counterclockwise to unscrew. Once you get the showerhead moving, finish unscrewing it by hand.
Use Vinegar If Needed
If you were unsuccessful in removing the showerhead with a wrench or pliers, it might be held on the pipe by rust, corrosion, calcification or other scale/mineral buildup. Fortunately, a vinegar bath can be very effective in dissolving many of these substances. A versatile household cleaner, white vinegar is highly acidic and will eat away at the rust or buildup.
For a showerhead connected to the wall, fill a plastic bag with vinegar and secure it over the stuck connector. If you're looking to remove a stuck hanging showerhead, simply place it in a bucket or bowl. Give the vinegar bath several hours or even leave it overnight.
After it has soaked, try twisting the showerhead off with a wrench or pliers. If it still won't come off, try spraying the connector with WD-40 or another kind of lubricant. When using chemicals such as these, always be careful to avoid contact with skin and eyes.
Clean the Shower Pipe
Once you've removed the stuck showerhead, clean the pipe threads to keep your new showerhead (or refurbished old one) from getting stuck again. Remove any plumber's tape and scrub the pipe threads with steel wool or another abrasive, making sure you get inside the grooves. Use vinegar to make sure the pipe is clean for the new showerhead.
Next, wrap a segment of plumber's tape onto the pipe threads to stop water from seeping into the gaps and install the new showerhead according to manufacturer instructions. If you turned the water supply off before beginning your project, turn it back on and ensure there are no leaks coming through the showerhead connection.