Leaking showerheads are a common bathroom problem and a big annoyance. The drip, drip, drip disrupts what should be one of the most tranquil rooms in your home. It’s also not ideal from the perspective of water conservation. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that showering accounts for 17% of water usage in the average home. With even a slow drip, you can waste 500 gallons a year. With a fast drip, you could lose several hundred gallons a month and have your water bill rise by $5 or more.

Grime Buildup

There are solids in your water that you can’t see as it flows. But they can accumulate in the showerhead over time and gunk it up. This buildup can cause leaks for a range of reasons. Perhaps the most common is that it creates additional pressure, which forces water out of the head.

This is why experts recommend soaking your showerheads and faucet aerators as regular maintenance. Use a mixture of one part white vinegar and two parts hot water. Let the showerhead soak overnight. Rinse with hot water in the morning. Reattach, and enjoy your shower. Most homeowners will only need to do this once every year or once every six months depending on their water quality.

Limescale Buildup

If you have hard water, then you may experience limescale accumulation in addition to grime. Depending on the hardness of the water, soaking in a vinegar solution may be enough to keep it at bay. Otherwise, you may need a chemical limescale remover. Use it for soaking and to clean the face of the showerhead on a more regular basis.

Note that if the limescale buildup is severe because you didn’t realize it was a problem, you likely need a plumber. Your plumber can remove dense buildup while ensuring the showerhead components aren’t damaged. The plumber can then inspect, tighten, and so forth.

Bad O-Ring or Washer

O-rings, washers and other seals that have worn out over time are the likeliest culprits when it comes to dripping showerheads. There is pressurized water in your system at all times. The seals are what prevent the water from coming through when the shower is off. As soon as those become just a little warped, they leave space for the water to seep through and drip.

It’s important that you choose hardware that is the right size and material. O-rings and washers that are too small obviously won’t work. But O-rings that are too big are just as problematic and will cause leaks, too. A plumber will match the hardware perfectly to your particular showerhead brand and model.

Worn Shower Cartridge

Many showers have a cartridge that ensures the optimal mix of water and air. These cartridges wear out over time. There are O-rings and washers inside that will eventually warp. There is also a mixer valve that can go bad with time. Generally, the cartridge is behind the handle. Despite that, it will typically cause a leak from the showerhead and not the handle or cover plate.

Replacing a shower cartridge is not a do-it-yourself job. You’re not just opening a showerhead and replacing an O-ring. The cartridge is part of the piping behind the shower. You need to hire an expert who has all the necessary equipment and experience.

Shower Arm Threading

Showerheads typically attach to a shower arm via threads. They allow you to tighten the showerhead onto the arm. A plumber will apply plumber’s tape, which is also called thread seal, to the thread. This protects the thread from wear. It also creates a seal that prevents water from seeping through.

Plumber’s tape does wear out over time and needs to be replaced. It will wear out quicker if you’re often removing the showerhead to clean it.

Worn Showerhead

Showerheads take a great deal of abuse over time, and there is the potential for corrosion. If your showerhead starts to corrode, there’s usually no fix. The problems are only going to worsen, so it’s best that you have a professional replace it as soon as possible.

Even without corrosion, there definitely comes a point where it’s easier to replace than clean and repair a showerhead. Some homeowners opt to replace proactively. We recommend having a plumber install a new head once the cleaning and repairs become frequent and inconvenient.

Faulty Valve

The four most common shower valves are thermostatic, pressure balancing, diverter and transfer. These may be part of the cartridge assembly mentioned earlier or separate. In many cases, your plumber will just need to replace the gaskets and grommets. Those will wear out over time. The valves themselves last a long time and take a lot of abuse. That said, they can fail as well. If the valve itself has failed, this repair will be a bit more expensive.

Shower Hose Leak

In some cases, a dripping showerhead is due to the hose and not the head. The first thing to rule out is the thread seal at both ends, if applicable. If that doesn’t fix the issue, inspect the hose, ideally with a magnifying glass. Look for small cracks, splits and other imperfections. If you find them, you have two choices. You can ask your plumber either to install a replacement hose in order to keep your head or to replace the entire assembly. That will cost more but may be easier than finding the right hose.

High Water Pressure

The sweet spot for water pressure in a home is 50 to 60 psi. Even up to 80 psi is generally considered safe. If the pressure is higher than that, it absolutely can cause drips and even serious leaks. If this is your problem, you’ll often experience the symptoms beyond just your showerhead. Also, if the showerhead is dripping, you may be able to turn on the faucet to stop it. Doing so releases the pressure from the system.

If high pressure is an occasional problem, then it may be due to the municipal water supply. Whether the high pressure is originating outside or inside your home, there are two prevalent fixes. You can have a plumber install either a pressure regulator or pressure reducing valve. Which upgrade is right for your home will depend on what is causing the high pressure.

Local Plumbing Repair Pros in Magic Valley

If you have a dripping showerhead and live in Magic Valley, ID or the surrounding areas, Magic Electric, Plumbing, Heating + Air is here to help. Our plumbers also clean drains and re-pipe water and gas lines. We install tank and tankless water heaters and water filtration and softening systems. Our team includes electricians who upgrade electrical panels and install lighting, surge protection, generators and EV chargers. We also have HVAC technicians who install, service and repair all heating and cooling technologies. That includes ducted, ductless, single-zone and multi-zone systems.

Call us today or contact us online to schedule a service appointment or an in-home consultation.

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