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Practical Steps on Removing Shower Head When It’s Stuck

Sometimes, you rush in for a bath, turn the shower on, and not a drop of water hits you. You run to the sink and find water is flowing; in the kitchen, all is fine, so you rush back to the shower, and still, it is bone dry. If you live in an area with hard water like Indianapolis, you will undoubtedly have to consider cleaning the shower head as it is probably clogged.

Moreover, if you look up to your shower and notice some dark spots forming around the perforations, you should also clean the showerhead. However, as fate will have it, the day you decide to get around to cleaning it is when you find the showerhead is completely stuck!

remove shower head when it's stuck


Steps on Removing a Stuck Shower Head

If you find the showerhead stuck, then do not get up and say it needs a professional plumber to deal with it or try wrestling it off. Arm yourself with the steps I will show you, and you will deal with this issue in no time.

Step 1. Prepare to remove

a) Cause of sticking

Before you embark on your showerhead removal, always determine the root cause of your shower head sticking.

Your showerhead can stick due to a myriad of factors. Therefore, always look for:

  • Look for rust signs – if you notice a copper or orange ring around the point the shower head connects to the shower arm, then you have a case of rusting as the main culprit.
  • Look for mineral build-up signs – if you notice a white ring around the point the shower head connects to the shower arm, then you have a case of mineral build-up as your main culprit.
  • If you look at the shower head’s point connected to the shower arm, and you see neither of the earlier two, you have a tightly attached shower head.


b) Water supply stoppage

Usually, before you remove your stuck shower head, it is appropriate that you turn the water supply off to avoid any potential problems. The cliché of the comedian wrenching a pipe and getting drenched in water explains what not turning the water supply off will do to you.

To cut the water supply, locate the water valve in the below areas:

  • In the basement, directly under the tab’s location.
  • In the bathroom, under the bathroom sink.


c) Workspace preparations

Use a thick blanket to cover your tub and floor to prevent damage from the tools and chemicals you will use in the process.

Moreover, always plug the drain to avoid losing your screws.


Step 2. Remove the stuck shower head

remove stuck shower head

With all the preparations attended to as above, now you get down to business.

a) Utilize a wrench or pliers

If you did not notice rust or mineral build-up at the point, the shower head connects to the shower arm, then use either pliers or wrenches to loosen the showerhead, then unscrew it using your bare hands.

While using these tools, do not use your pliers or wrench directly. Instead:

  • Protect the shower head’s metal by covering the plumbing nut or the fixtures connector using a cloth.
  • Use the wrench or pliers to grip the nut or connector.
  • Turn the pliers or wrench clockwise to loosen any debris that may have attached to it.
  • Turn the wrench or pliers anticlockwise to loosen and remove your stuck shower head.


b) Apply a calcium, lime, and rust remover to the stuck shower head

If you notice rust or mineral build-up on the point, the shower head connects to the shower arm; use the appropriate removers to loosen the nut or connector.

While using these products:

  • Apply the chemicals as instructed, and always ensure you read the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Once you have applied the chemicals, let them sit for the required duration.
  • Using a wire brush, scrub the chemicals off to remove the lime, calcium, and rust.
  • Clean the shower arm and head.


c) Utilization of penetrating lubricants

If the earlier two options fail, utilize penetrating lubricants such as WD-40. These lubricants will loosen the nut or connector, making it easier to remove.

  • Apply the first coat of your preferred penetrating lubricant and let it sit for about two hours.
  • Apply the second coat of your preferred penetrating lubricant and let it sit for about two hours.
  • Use a cloth to cover the nut or connector.
  • Use pliers or wrenches to attempt loosening the showerhead.


Step 3. Clean

With your shower head removed, looking at it might at times make your skin crawl, especially if you find it has slimy residues on it. However, to clean it:

a) Soaking the showerhead overnight in vinegar

clean stuck shower head

Before you start, rinse the showerhead then:

  • Put the showerhead in an appropriately sized basin.
  • Pour distilled vinegar into the basin till it covers the shower head’s surface.
  • Let the showerhead soak overnight.
  • Remove the showerhead from the basin and rinse it using cold tap water.


b) Removal of mineral build-up and rust remainders

After you have completed the earlier steps, take your shower head and inspect it for rust and mineral build-ups. If you find any, apply a calcium, rust, and lime remover to the showerhead and let it sit for the specified time.

Once the allotted time expires, scrub the product off using a wire brush.


c) Cleaning the shower arm’s tread of old tape, mineral build-up, and rust

Once your shower head is clean, it will be quite unjust to fit it back to a dirty shower arm. As such, before reinstalling it, always:

  • Using an Exacto-knife or a wire brush, peel off the old plumber’s tape on the shower arm’s treads.
  • If you notice the tell-tale signs of rust and mineral-build up, apply calcium, rust, and lime remover to the showerhead.
  • Let the product sit for the specified time.
  • Scrub off the calcium, rust, and lime using a wire brush.
  • Clean the shower arm using an old rag.


Step 4. Reattach or replace your shower head

After you have cleaned both your shower head and the shower arm, all you have to do is reattach the two and go back to worry-free showers.

To reattach your showerhead:

a) Use plumber’s tape to cover the threads on the shower arm

Reattach or replace your shower head

Plumber’s tape is what makes the shower arm leakproof. Failure to successfully apply it will result in a leaky shower with drastic effects on your water bills. Therefore, while using plumber’s tape:

In a clockwise manner, wrap the plumber’s tape over the shower arm’s threads in two to three layers.
Press the plumber’s tape between the threads.


b) Reattachment or replacement of the showerhead

After applying the plumber’s tape to the shower arm, you need to attach the showerhead. If you correctly cleaned your old showerhead, reattach it.

However, if it proved troublesome or broke during the process, something that has happened quite often, especially for beginners, replace the showerhead.

Suppose you have a fixed-mount shower head. Place it on the shower arm’s threads, and turn it clockwise to tighten it. A fixed-mount shower head is the one used in non-handheld showers.

If you have a hand-held showerhead:

  • Place your shower head on the shower arm and tighten it using your bare hands.
  • Attach the hose’s end to the showerhead and the other to the shower mount, then tighten the connectors again by hand.
  • Put the showerhead in its place in the shower mount.


c) Testing for leaks and functionality

Having put everything back in place, turn the water supply

  • on using the bulb in the basement directly under the tab’s location
  • or below the bathroom sink.

Check for leaks as you gradually increase the water pressure. If you do find leaks tighten the shower head’s connectors, and if the need arises, add more plumbers’ tape. However, if the shower fails to work, you probably have a clog in the pipes.



1. What should I use if the showerhead is stuck?

If you try removing your shower head and find your shower head is stuck, do not panic as it is quite normal. The sticking occurs due to rust and mineral build-up, both of which are solvable using:

a) Vinegar

Soak the showerhead using vinegar. Since vinegar is acidic, it will do light work of the rust and mineral build-up, and by morning your showerhead should quickly come off.

b) Lime Rust and Calcium remover

In place of vinegar, the above product will also work marvelously. However, ensure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

c) WD-40

A lubricant such as WD-40 will also work. Spray it to your shower head connectors and wiggle it off using a wrench, pliers, or your bare hands if you fancy yourself that tough.


2. What to do if the hex screw will not turn?

Sometimes you try turning the hex screw and find that it refuses to barge or turns endlessly in its mount. In such a scenario, apply as much pressure as possible, and if the insert loosens, superglue it quickly back into position.

If the above fails, rest the tip of a soldering iron on the screw to heat it. Do not overheat it, then wait till it cools and try unscrewing it.

If all these fail, gear up as it is down to Dremel country.


3. Can I change the shower arm?

Yes, the shower arm is changeable. To accomplish this, you require:

  • Vise grips
  • Step stool
  • Adjustable pipe wrench
  • Metal lubricant
  • Plumbing tape
  • Rubber gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Vinegar
  • Large bowl
  • Calcium and limescale remover


 Step1.  Cut the water supply.

Turn off the water supply by closing the valve, usually located in the basement directly under the tab’s location or below the bathroom sink.

 Step2.  Detach the showerhead

Before tackling the shower arm, ensure you remove the showerhead to ease operations. Use a wrench or pliers to remove them. If the connectors have rust or mineral build-up, use rust, lime, and calcium remover to loosen them as stated in the manufacturer’s guide, then proceed to detach them; if they are dirty clean them as per this article.

 Step3.  Clean the shower arm

Before removing the shower arm, get rid of the mold, mildew, and scales that may be in it using vinegar.

 Step4.  Unscrewing the shower arm

Use the adjustable wrench to loosen the shower arm in an anticlockwise manner gently. If this fails, apply the metal lubricant when the shower arm and wall meet and leave it to sit for two hours, then come and unscrew it using your wrench.

 Step5.  Installation of the new shower arm

Before installing the new shower arm, use the plumber’s tape to waterproof the connection, then turn clockwise and ensure the shower arm snugly fits into the contact.

 Step6.  Showerhead reattachment

As earlier in the shower arm, use plumbing tape to coat the shower head – shower arm connection then fit the showerhead in place using a clockwise motion.

 Step7.  Testing for leaks and functionality

Having put everything back in place, turn the water supply on from the valve located in the basement directly under the tabs’ location or below the bathroom sink

Check for leaks as you gradually increase the water pressure. If you do find leaks tighten the shower’s connectors, and if the need arises, add more plumbers’ tape. However, if the shower fails to work, you probably have a clog in the pipes.


4. How to remove the plumber’s tape?

Plumber’s tape is useful in preventing leakages in your connectors. Though applying it tends to be very easy, removing it is a bit trickier.


  • Piece of cloth
  • Wire brush
  • Old toothbrush


 Step1.  Scrub using a wire brush

Gently remove the plumber’s tape upper layer using the wire brush while taking care not to damage the pipe below.

 Step2.  Remove plumber’s tape residue from the pipe.

Dip your piece of cloth in warm water and cover the surface of the pipe where you removed your tape. Twist the rag to rub the pipe from right to left till all the residue comes off, then dry the pipe.

 Step3.  Employing a toothbrush

If the cloth piece does not remove the entire residue, use an old brush to complete the job.

 Step4.  Cleaning the pipe surface

With the residue removed, clean the surface of the pipe with warm water, then dry it.


5. What to do to avoid my shower head getting stuck?

  • Regularly clean the showerhead to prevent the accumulation of rust and mineral build-up.
  • If the shower arm shows widespread rusting signs, replace it to prevent the shower head from sticking to it.
  • If you live in a region with hard water, ensure you treat the water to prevent mineral build-up that will result in a stuck shower head.
  • Do not use adhesive products such as glue around showerheads. Hand-held shower heads are the most prone to this type of abuse.



We all take time to ensure our bodies are clean, whether we are going to the market, places of worship, or work. However, it is quite ironic that as we are doing the task of cleaning up, the dirtier the showerheads get. In this case, you should always ensure you dedicate some time cleaning them to avoid them getting stuck and if you find them stuck, please follow the above steps to detach, clean, and reattach them.

Posted in Shower Heads Tips

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