A leaking showerhead can be a nuisance, but the good news is that it’s usually an easy fix. With a few simple tools and steps, you can have your showerhead working like new again in no time.

What Causes a Showerhead to Leak?

There are a few common reasons why showerheads start to drip or spray water when the shower is off:

  • Mineral buildup – Hard water contains minerals like calcium and magnesium that can leave behind mineral deposits over time. These deposits can clog the showerhead holes or fittings, causing drips and leaks.
  • Worn washers/gaskets – Most showerheads rely on rubber washers or gaskets to form a watertight seal. Over time, these can get worn out or cracked, allowing water to leak through.
  • Corrosion – Chemicals in water can corrode metal showerhead parts like brass fixtures. Corrosion wears down the metal over time, leading to small holes and leaks.
  • Loose connections – If the showerhead is not tightened properly, water pressure can push it loose resulting in drips and leaks around the fittings.

How to Fix a Leaking Showerhead

Fixing a leaking showerhead is usually a quick, easy, and inexpensive repair. Here are the steps:

Step 1: Turn Off Water Supply

The first thing you’ll want to do is turn off the water supply to the shower. Every home is a little different, but you’ll usually find the shutoff valves under the sink or behind an access panel in the bath/shower wall.

Turning the water off at the main valve is the easiest way to ensure the shower is completely shut down. Just remember to turn it back on when the repair is complete!

Step 2: Unscrew Showerhead

With the water off, unscrew the showerhead from the shower arm or pipe. In most cases you can do this by hand – just grasp the showerhead firmly and twist counterclockwise.

If it’s stuck on too tightly to unscrew by hand, wrap the connecting fittings with a cloth or rag to protect the finish, then use pliers or a wrench to loosen the connection.

Step 3: Inspect Washers and Seals

Once removed, inspect the rubber washers or seals inside the showerhead and shower arm fittings. Look for any wear, cracks, mineral deposits, or corrosion that could be allowing water to leak through.

Often, simply replacing old, worn out washers is all it takes to fix a leaky showerhead. Bring the worn washers to the hardware store to find replacement gaskets that match.

Step 4: Clean Showerhead Holes and Jets

While you have the showerhead apart, take the opportunity to give it a thorough cleaning. Use a toothpick or stiff brush to gently clear any mineral deposits or debris that may be clogging the nozzle holes and spray jets.

You can also soak just the showerhead (not attached fittings) in a mild vinegar solution for 15-30 minutes to dissolve hard water deposits before scrubbing clean.

Step 5: Reassemble Showerhead

Once the washers have been replaced and the showerhead holes are clear, reassemble the unit. Make sure all the parts are aligned and seated properly, then hand tighten the showerhead onto the pipe fitting.

Don’t overtighten – you just need it snug enough to compress the washers to form a seal. Then turn on the water supply and test for leaks!

Tips for Preventing Leaks

To help prevent annoying drips and leaks from recurring, here are a few maintenance tips:

  • Every few months, unscrew and inspect washers and seals for wear. Replace promptly when needed.
  • Give showerheads a thorough cleaning every 3-6 months to prevent mineral buildup.
  • Consider installing a water softener system if you have hard water. This can reduce mineral deposits and corrosion over time.
  • Avoid tightening the showerhead too much when reattaching. Just hand tight is sufficient in most cases.
  • Choose a quality showerhead made of durable materials like metal instead of cheap plastic models. Higher quality heads tend to last longer.
  • Lubricate all seals and washers periodically with plumber’s grease or petroleum jelly to help maintain a watertight seal.

When to Call a Plumber

If you’ve tried the troubleshooting steps and are still experiencing leaks, it may be time to call in a professional. A plumber can inspect for issues like pipe damage hidden behind walls, diagnose causes of persistent drips, and replace faucet cartridges or valves if needed.

It’s a good idea to get help if you have difficulty turning off the main water supply, can’t remove shower parts that are corroded in place, notice leaks within the wall, or have other signs of more extensive plumbing issues beyond just the showerhead.


With a few basic tools and a little DIY spirit, fixing a leaky showerhead is usually a quick and easy home repair. Inspecting and replacing worn washers, clearing clogs, and cleaning mineral deposits will often stop annoying drips and spurts. Paying attention to periodic maintenance and leakage warning signs can help avoid problems down the road. But if you try the typical troubleshooting steps and the leaks persist, be sure to call on a professional plumber to remedy any larger issues.

Frequently Asked Questions About Fixing a Leaking Showerhead

What are some quick fixes for a leaking showerhead?

Some quick fixes include cleaning any mineral deposits clogging the showerhead holes, replacing old washers and gaskets, tightening connections, or wrapping plumber’s tape around threaded fittings. These easy steps can often stop minor drips.

How do I unscrew a stuck showerhead?

To loosen a stuck showerhead, first wrap the fittings with a rag to prevent scratches. Then use pliers or a wrench to loosen the connection – turn counterclockwise. Apply penetrating oil or rust remover and let it soak if corrosion is very stubborn.

What should I use to clean showerhead holes?

Gently clear clogged showerhead holes using a toothpick, stiff brush, or pipe cleaner. You can also soak just the head in white vinegar and water to dissolve mineral deposits before scrubbing clean.

How often should I replace showerhead washers?

Inspect washers every 3-6 months and replace promptly when cracked or worn. Silicone or rubber washers may last 1-2 years, while plastic washers need replacing more often. Buy a multi-pack so you have spares ready when needed.

Why does my showerhead still drip after replacing the washers?

If drips persist after replacing washers, inspect for obstruction in the shower arm, damage to the pipe threads, or issues with water pressure. A plumber can diagnose and repair hidden causes of persistent leakage.

Is it hard to replace a shower cartridge or valve?

Replacing internal cartridges or valves is more complex than just swapping washers. Unless you have plumbing experience, it’s best to call a professional to avoid damaging components or getting in over your head.

Can I prevent my showerhead from leaking?

To prevent leaks, inspect and replace washers regularly, avoid overtightening, clean mineral deposits before they clog holes, use a water softener if you have hard water, and choose quality metal showerheads.

When should I call a plumber for a leaking showerhead?

Call a plumber if you can’t isolate the leak source, shut off water or remove shower parts, notice leaks inside walls, have persistent drips after repairs, or have other signs of extensive plumbing issues.