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Selecting And Replacing Showerheads

by Gabby Hyman
Repair-Home Columnist

Maybe it's time to replace your old, inefficient showerhead. If the task seems daunting to you, there are plumbing contractors in your area that can do the job in a snap. The bottom line is that the new generation showerheads simply look terrific, and they save you money on water bills as they soothe and cleanse your body.

Home water use in this country taps nearly 50 percent of all the water supplied by utility companies. That's why federal legislation was passed in 1992 limiting showerhead water distribution to 2.5 gallons per minute or less. Using smart showerheads can reduce your water use by as much as a third and carve a $20-$45 chunk out of your current water heating bill.

New reduced flow showerheads vary widely in price--from as little as $15 to as much as $175--depending on materials, workmanship, and goodies. Styles and models include "S"-style shower arms, elephant showerheads, watering-can showerheads, massage showerheads, dual stream models, telephone-style handheld showerheads, downpour rain heads, self-pressurizing showerheads, and spa-style models.

Installing a New Showerhead

You'll need an adjustable or crescent wrench and Teflon tape (or pipe dope) to do the job right. If you're lucky, you have a showerhead that simply unscrews (although you may have to remove set screws below the fitting if there are any). Go easy. You can damage the water line where it emerges from your wall by twisting too hard. If the old showerhead is stuck in place by corrosion or hard water deposits, dab it with warm white vinegar and give it another whirl.

Before installing the new showerhead, be sure to clean the fitting and the supply pipe of any residual deposits. You can also buy chemicals at a home improvement store that will safely melt away any left-over residue.

You install the new showerhead simply by screwing it into place. But before you attach it, line the threads inside the fitting with the Teflon tape. Another option is to apply pipe dope on the threads of the water line where it screws into the showerhead.

Hand-tighten the new showerhead carefully, making sure not to twist or apply excessive pressure on the water line. If you have to use your wrench to seat the head, be sure to wrap the fitting with a protective cloth to prevent scarring the new hardware.

About the Author
Gabby Hyman has created online strategies and written content for Fortune 500 companies including eToys, GoTo.com, Siebel Systems, Microsoft Encarta, Avaya, and Nissan UK.